(This column appeared last month in the Devils Lake Journal in Devils Lake, N.D.)
I have written about my kit cat Jenni a number of times in this column, must recently when I returned to Devils Lake to retrieve the rest of my things from my parent’s basement. I haven’t written much about my dog Sammi, probably because she has been gone for a number of years now. I got Sammi shortly after I bought my first house in
Highlands Ranch, Colorado, just after 9/11. I thought since I had a house with a yard I needed a dog. I went to the Dumb Friends League shelter in Denver to adopt a dog accompanied by my friend Laura. I remember there were lots of young, big dogs there, something I didn’t want although I didn’t have a particular breed in mind. I saw Sammi cowering in one of the kennels looking scared to death and shaking ever so slightly. When I asked to see her she looked much bigger standing up in the shelter’s meet and greet room. Although the shelter was uncertain of her breed mix she had the face of a terrier and the body of a hound. Laura named her Sammi on the spot at the shelter (later, for inexplicable reasons, my Dad Fast Eddie would call her Sammy Josephine.) After adopting Sammi, we walked out to the parking lot to my car, and when I opened the door she hopped right in as if she had been doing it for years.
Sammi made a number of road trips with me to Devils Lake where she was lavished with love and affection by my nieces. One 4th of July Sammi had had maybe a little too much love and fireworks and she leaped into my Mom’s car and wouldn’t budge for hours until she was coaxed out with some turkey. Although Sammi has been gone for awhile now various things will happen to make me think of her. That happened at this year’s Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Fun Run/Walk in Denver. The event is held TDay morning in Washington Park, one of Denver’s largest and oldest parks set in the middle of a neighborhood of exquisite older homes and streets lined with large trees.
I walked the Turkey Trot with my friend Lori, her son Wesley and their dog, a cocker spaniel named Baxter. Lori was actually with me years back at the vet when I had to put Sammi, who became severely incapacitated with arthritis, to sleep. As all you pet lovers know this is an incredibly difficult and emotional time. Lori and I reflected on that day while we were waiting to start turkey trotting, remembering how we went out for root beer floats afterward trying to console our sadness with something sweet.
Also as we waited to start walking numerous people came by to gush over Baxter, often because he looked like a their own dog or a dog they used to have or just because they loved cocker spaniels, with many commenting that you don’t often see chocolate colored spaniels. Sammi used to get her fair share of attention when I walked her but not like this. But then again there were about 10,000 turkey trotters at the event. A fair number of other people also had brought their dogs, some of them dressed in some sort of turkey or pilgrim attire as were some of the trotters. In the past, Turkey Trot organizers told participants not to bring their dogs to the event but to no avail. They finally decided to embrace the pooches but asked those with dogs to bring up the rear of the race so as not to trip up the other trotters.
The number of dogs at the Turkey Trot is testament to how much we humans love out pets and consider them part of the family. Around Halloween this year I saw a story about the millions of dollars that would be spent this year on pet costumes. I don’t recall the exact dollar amount but is was astounding. I wish Sammi was still with me. She would have enjoyed the Turkey Trot. When my nephew Levi passed away our family waited for the funeral to start upstairs in the church. The kids in the family including my nieces drew pictures while we waited. One of my nieces drew a picture of everyone Levi was meeting in heaven. Among them was my Sammi.