Sam the Pound Dog Chews a Swath Through Writer’s Life

Sam the dog, shown on a couch he shredded, had a chewing problem after Carol McGraw adopted him. McGraw keeps plenty of stuffed animals on...



Sam the dog, shown on a couch he shredded, had a chewing problem after Carol McGraw adopted him. McGraw keeps plenty of stuffed animals on hand.

Thanks Sherrie Escue for barking in about this oh too true article about a rescue dog! It’s a three-parter from out of Colorado Springs, CO. The other two parts are set to run there later this week. I know I’ll be looking for the rest of the article.

This article really reminds me of Annie, especially the part about escaping. Fortunately I always keep a collar on my dogs with their names and my phone number. I can’t tell you how many really nice neighbors I met who called me to say that Annie had decided to visit them!

Pt.1: Oh, Sam! You bad dog!

Sam the dog, shown on a couch he shredded, had a chewing problem after Carol McGraw adopted him. McGraw keeps plenty of stuffed animals on hand.


TO OUR READERS: This is the first of a three-part story about Sam, a dog that features writer Carol McGraw picked up at the pound. See Mondays and Tuesdays Life sections for the rest of the story.

Dec. 17: Went shopping for a Christmas present for Chaco, my five-year-old Australian shepherd. Im not sure he needs a canine companion, but I am sure of my guilt at leaving him alone so much.

The Pikes Peak Humane Society is packed with Christmas shoppers. I want a pooch that is cute and well-behaved. My sister Sydney from New York and I see one that looks promising but his adoption date doesnt start until tomorrow. The sign says he is part cattle dog. We cant see his face because he is sleeping curled in a little knot. He has beautiful red merle fur. Only a tiny alarm goes off in my brain about getting another herding dog who needs a job” to be happy.

Dec. 18: We get to the shelter 45 minutes early and are first in line.

Finally inside, we choose a second dog to look at just in case the audition doesnt go well with the cattle dog.

In comes the cattle-dog mix. Even Simon of American Idol” would like this mutt. He sits and shakes hands politely. He lays his head on our knees and gazes at us with big brown eyes rimmed with eyelinerlike markings that streak back toward his floppy ears like Cleopatra. I eventually realize that gaze is the best weapon in his arsenal when he needs to ask for forgiveness.

Dec. 27: We name him Sam. Ive noticed that his back legs are a bit weak, probably because the previous owners kept him on a chain in the backyard. The vet says to keep an eye on his legs.

My sister, a cat person, is smitten. Chaco loves Sam, too, and falls asleep exhausted each night after days filled with tug of war, chase and ball. Sams adoption sheet said that he hates” cats. But he sleeps curled up with my 18-year-old feline, Sasha.

Jan. 10: Too busy to write. Ive been stripping the family room of all but the heaviest furniture. Sam, who has access to this room along with the yard, has been busy, too, tearing it to pieces. I no longer can use the guest bedroom because that is the refugee camp for all the knick-knacks from the family room that I have hidden. I even took the pictures off the walls before Sam could. The casualty list so far: one large couch pillow, two throw pillows, one picture frame, two books, one window shade (old), 5 inches of area-rug fringe, bits and pieces of a denim couch.

I would be more upset if the couch werent 15 years old and if Sam were not the sweetest dog when I am around. He has a great sense of humor, too, and seems to laugh at his own jokes. And he is very smart, learning new commands quickly.

But why, I wonder, even though he has hundreds of dollars worth of toys, including those indestructible” ones that now lay limply in death throes, does he prefer a denim-couch dust ruffle? (I have swathed the couch in old blankets in hopes that Sam will forget what is under them.)

Jan. 12: I go to a thrift store and buy a big sack of stuffed toys for $5.

Jan. 15: I now spend much time outside like a field hand picking up white fluffy cotton tufts the polyester innards of Elmo, a pink cat, a frog and three dogs.

Jan. 20: Not content to kill every toy, Sam has become an escape artist, which he accomplished by chewing off the bottom of several fence boards and squeezing under them.

I barricaded that, but he apparently goes over the fence using his sturdy little feet as crampons. (So much for the weak hind legs that he had when I first got him.)

When I come home he is always waiting on the front steps, overjoyed. I try not to yell or to greet him. Chaco ever the vigilant herd dog has evidently been sick with worry that Sam, his sheep,” has gotten away. When I put Sam back in the yard, Chaco chases Sam, barking and biting at his heels. Sam yelps and gives his best hangdog expression.

Jan. 25: At his checkup last month, the vet said Sam needed to gain a quarter of his weight because he was so malnourished before coming to our home. Sam has gained five pounds, and his protruding ribs have disappeared under a healthy layer of fat. Denim-couch covers must have lots of calories.

Jan. 26: Im reading a book called The Latchkey Dog.” Of course in this age of pet worship and busy lives there would be the need of such.

I also look at dozens of articles on the Web. Sam has all the symptoms of separation anxiety.” These dogs don’t want you out of their sight. It is particularly common among shelter dogs and others who have had a tough life. One author says these dogs tear up your stuff because they smell your scent on things and think they will find you amongst the pillow fluff. I wish I could be and yell, Stop that!”

Jan. 27: Sams separation anxiety matches my own mental failings. I question my sanity who makes half her house unusable because she has to dog proof” it? Maybe you should take him back to the shelter,” my mother suggests.

Jan. 28: Sam can multitask. Not only can he chew couches and scale fences with a single bound, but he also is an excavator of gardens.

Jan. 29: Yippee. Sam stayed in the yard. Maybe he has learned his lesson from Chacos dressings down.

Jan. 30: I ask my friend Deb how she keeps her two big dogs from digging in her garden, and she sends me this in an e-mail: One trick that does seem to work is to put dog poop into the holes that they are working on and put a little dirt on top so they smell that something isnt right. I think this is also a great metaphor for life one day youre working along thinking everything is OK and the next thing you know the whole thing has turned to (poop).

P.S. More exercise may do the trick. Our dogs get crazy and do all sorts of weird things if they dont get out for a hike. It would probably be fun for you, too.”

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