The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 15 Story and Poems by Harry Martin Polis
                Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis
The Dog

 Jayne used to have a dog many years ago.  Her name was Rochael, or Rookie, depending on how we felt that day.  We had to give her away because she would jump all over everybody when they came in and tear things apart when we were away.  Although Jaynee didn’t care, frankly I couldn’t deal with a very frisky dog.  Lately, Jaynee has wanted to have another dog.  She swims with a woman who trains animals.  The trainer has been working with a family who decided to give away their Golden Retriever.  The husband had died and the dog is big and heavy.  The mom couldn’t control the dog.  Jaynee went to see the dog and spoke with the eight-year-old son.  The little boy presented the dog as totally wild and the dog did snitch all the boy’s leftover breakfast.  However, the dog also leaned against Jaynee’s leg and let her brush him for as long as she felt like it.  The son gave his consent to giving the dog away with the mom’s promising to buy him a smaller dog.  When he was supposed to come see our house, he and our son Brian got sick.  Everything had to be postponed a week.  That means I get a week’s reprieve.
 Last week, the lady brought the dog to meet me.  He was a beautiful Golden Retriever who was actually auburn.  Sammy, the dog, was really a pretty dog, and well fed.  The dog seems nice but he needs training.  The dog trainer has promised to help us train him in return for a portrait of her dog.  Sammy seemed to take to me—the dog-lover that I am.  I need a dog that has a good disposition and who will not bother me in my daily pursuits.  Although the dog is nice, he is not like Honey’s dog Tree.  I am used to Tree.  Sammy is a quieter breed.  I guess the jury is still out on Sammy.  Can he be alone without tearing things apart?  Will he let us leave the house and let others in?  Will he be okay with the mailman?  Will he learn not to run like a maniac when he spies another dog?  We need to see and understand his nature and abilities.  Adopting a dog is too much like adopting another member of the family.  This weekend we were supposed to have him visit so we could judge his behavior in a longer space of time.  We will have to wait for another weekend, especially since the eight-year-old is now screaming and doesn’t want to let go of his dog.  Jaynee had to promise that she would take the dog, but now he may not come for weeks, or months, or never.  Time will tell, and then I’ll tell you.  Wish me luck and patience.
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.




This week, Jaynee writes about our Golden Retriever.
 Six months ago, we adopted Big Sammy, our auburn Golden Retriever.  We are his third owners and he spent time in a veterinarian’s dark basement cages.  He stuck to Harry or me like glue, was afraid of teenage boys, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and anyone leaving.  Left alone, regardless of how many toys, or bones left out for him, he freaked out.  He chewed on rugs, broke the screen door, ate the seat belt and harness in the car, and shredded clothes.  He permanently scarred his beautiful snout by scraping it on the crate trying to open the door.  His behavior is known as Separation Anxiety.  When I took him for walks, he pulled me down the steps and across the street.  If he saw another dog, he jumped around and barked trying to get to the other canine. He weighed 90 pounds with lots of muscle so Harry and I were pulling muscles at the rate of once a week. 
 Lane Finkel is a dog trainer with a big heart.  She was training Big Sammy at his previous house and the woman just couldn’t keep him.  She was not able to be forceful enough, and perhaps did not have the energy.  Although Lane was afraid of Sammy because at that house, he was very angry and growled a lot, Lane believed under that aggression, there was a sweet Golden Retriever.  She asked us if we would take him, and although Harry did not want a dog, something made us adopt him.  I had an intuitive feeling he was meant for us. 
 Harry and I worked with Sammy every day, “healing/heeling” and loving him.  He acted out and destroyed our New Orleans tote bag, my shirt, and some expensive stuff.  It is now six months later, and Big Sammy is a different dog.  From the minute we got him, he was happy to be here.  Somehow he knew we would be strict, but he would always get what he needed and lots of love.  He stopped being angry immediately; never bit anyone, just giving kisses. 
 Now, Big Sammy is our baby doggie.  He’s three years old, doesn’t pull on the leash, is comfortable with motorcycles and teenage boys, and can be left home alone.  We are still working on this.  He still gets nervous, wondering if we will come back.  He loves to ride, but we are still afraid to leave him in the car alone.  It turned out that Golden Retrievers are funny.  They do cute half-jumps when they get excited.  They eat everything.  He’s down to about 83 pounds, but that’s a struggle.  He begs for Brussels sprouts and eats them on the fly.   He cries for anything we eat, including salad.  Bleu Cheese dressing makes his day.  He lays on us and tries to sit on our laps.  Best of all, he smiles and grins.  When he grins, he bares his teeth with the little bottom teeth showing.  It isn’t like any other expression and you know he’s grinning when you see it. 
 I believe we were meant to have Sammy.  I promised our daughter Honey no matter what happened, we wouldn’t give Big Sammy away.  This vow was important when times were rough.  Now, we’re glad we persevered.   He is a joy.
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.




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