Girl's Best Friend

November 30, 2008
By
It would be impressive to say that my most influential person was Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I could write a horrific, yet striking essay about Adolf Hitler’s leadership skills. I could tell you that my life was changed by the words of Dickinson, Shakespeare, or Thoreau. It might be moving to hear of a quaint recollection from my childhood in which my mother or grandfather or elementary school teacher taught me some extravagant life lesson that I have kept with me all of the while. But if I were to write any essay suggested above, I would not quite be telling you the truth. If I am to be honest, I would have to tell you that the person who has impacted me most during my eighteen years on this planet was not even a person at all. He was my dog, Sammy.

Like most of my peers, I only faintly remember anything prior to my fourth or fifth birthday. However, I do recall the day I met Sammy. I was about three years old and it was around Christmastime. (I only remember this because I had been wearing a pair of my favorite footed pajamas.) I can picture this new mutt running around my kitchen with my dad and my older brother, and I remember that all I wanted to do was to hop on and ride him around. (Which I later found out was not an option.) And though my memories of this day are few and scattered, I will never forget them.

As the years passed, Sammy built a very close bond with my dad and my brother. He loved to run outside while they played catch together. He loved it when they would take him on walks. He was so excited each day as they would return home from work and school. And I was jealous. Because Sammy was wild and energetic, and remembered all those times that I tried to ride him around, he was never too enthused to come snuggle up with me. I did not think it was fair that my dog associated my naïve actions as a toddler with my actions as a ten or eleven-year-old. All I wanted, though it sounds (and was) selfish, was for Sammy to love me the most.

Eventually, I did get my wish. Unfortunately it was under sad circumstances. As Sammy grew older, the abuse that he had experienced from his previous owner began to catch up to him. His legs, covered in tumors, grew weak and he could barely stand. He had little energy or strength to run around and play fetch. It was at this time that he loved to cuddle up next to me; I would pet him until he fell asleep, his head rested upon my knees.

Sammy passed away when I was in the eighth grade, and I miss him every day. I will never forget his extreme fear of water, the circular path he dug around our play fort in the backyard, or the time he ate my Oatmeal Pie and made me cry. Sammy opened my eyes to just how much I love animals. His curiosity (especially about the neighbor’s guinea pigs) always made me laugh and inspired me to explore the world around me. He taught me how to be more patient and how to pay close attention to the details surrounding me. And though he may not have realized he was teaching me these lessons, I do believe he could tell that something special had been shared between us.

Sammy was who I went to when I could not handle the rest of the world. He always listened while I read to him or told him crazy stories about animals, or witches, or my friends at school. Sammy understood when I should be left alone and when I needed nothing more than a shoulder to cry on. He always seemed to know just what he could do to make me smile. I loved that mutt so much; he truly was a man’s, or in our case a girl’s, best friend.





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