Life With Sammy | Meeting Sammy

Sammy came to be with us on Sunday, February 26, 2012.
He is a two and a half year old registered Vizsla that decided he wanted nothing to do with being a bird dog… he just wanted to love someone.

And he found me.

I went 2 Sundays ago to meet him. I had this delusion in my head that they were going to let him out of his crate, the music would start and he would run straight to me, knocking me over and licking my face, all while wagging his tail ferociously.

Not so.

He wanted nothing to do with me. He ran everywhere but towards me, pulled away whenever I attempted to pet him, and generally had his tail tucked between his legs.

But he was beautiful. Sleek and agile, he was obviously in good health. He showed tremendous affection for the handler that had been working with him for the past while – and I had a feeling that if given the correct circumstances, I could develop that same bond with him… after all, they’re not called “Velcro Dogs” for no reason right?

Hubby and I had been back and forth between adult “started” dog, or puppy.
I wanted a puppy because I wanted to know it’s history, be responsible for it’s socialization, plus puppies, by nature, are much more instantly accepting of children than adult dogs.
I wanted a started dog because, if you find the right dog, you can skip housetraining, crate training, and socialization altogether! What more could you ask for!?

I have to be honest; I was nervous when I first thought about bringing Sammy – “Soul Man” was his name at the time – into our home. I didn’t want to have a dog around that was nervous of children, given that there will be a minimum of 3 around at any given time. I’ve heard nightmare stories of people adopting pets that they absolutely fall in love with, but they never warm up to their children, and as a result, they have to return them to the shelter/breeder/wherever they got them from. I didn’t want that sort of heartbreak.

I spent 2 hours with him that day. Monster came with me (so I could see his reaction to a little person) and by the end of our visit, he was letting Monster pet him, and was allowing me to walk with him. Given the fact that he is not leash trained formally, this was a huge step. They showed me how wonderfully crate trained he was – every time we walked by it, he would go in and sit down.

I decided that while he would definitely be more work than I was looking for, he would be happy with us. Plus, puppies always sell… an adult dog isn’t usually something that people go looking for.

I’m going to try to chronicle my journey as I attempt to train this newest boy in my house.
What was I thinking? I should have gotten a female. I’m completely outnumbered here.

We’ve already had some major breakthroughs. It’s only been 7 days and already Sam is walking calmly on a leash – not choking himself at the end of it anymore – and sitting on command, which he didn’t know at all when he came to us.

Look Mom! I can sit!


He’s an absolute treasure, and he’s warming up to everyone very well… but he’s still a Mama’s boy… which is just fine with me 🙂

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man’s woman’s best friend

When I was a baby, my parents got a black labrador retriever that they named Duke. Duke was a feisty little boy, with an ever-moving tail and boundless energy – at least that’s what I’ve been told. I obviously don’t remember.

What I do remember is long walks in the fields surrounding my parent’s house. We were surrounded by farmland, overlooking a quiet bay. Duke and I would spend hours out in the yard, throwing the ball, hunting snakes, swimming and enjoying life.
Having been raised alongside an infant, he was a gentle boy… never growling or biting anyone, greeting the tourists as they rode by on their bikes, offering his ball to them so they could throw it. Everyone enjoyed his diving tricks; throw a small stone in to the water and he’d come out with one so big he could barely lift it.
He was my Dad’s hunting buddy – he trained him for duck hunting, and he was skilled in the art of ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, ‘back’ and ‘release’. My father always said he had a gentle mouth, and would never leave a mark on anything that he retrieved.
His coat was so black, it almost looked blue. I brushed him all. the. time. so it shined like it was wet. He probably would have won conformation classes, as he was the exact dog that you will find on the cover of any Black Labrador book. Not a fleck of white on him, and no kink in his tail. A perfect head and strong bones.

Duke lived unusually long for a Lab – he was 13 when he was attacked by another dog and died from his injuries.

My whole family was at a wedding when we got a phone call that something had happened to Duke. We raced home to find him hiding in the barn, unable to breathe, and knowing there was nothing we could do, we said our goodbyes and he slipped away.

It was the first time I had ever seen my father cry.

The first time I had experienced death close enough to personally affect me.

We buried him in the back yard under a cedar sapling. Every time I see a fine-boned silky-smooth black lab, I think of Duke.

The boys have been bugging us for a dog since we moved here. There are dogs everywhere in our neighbourhood, and an off-leash part just down the road. Because Peanut and Monster have a dog at their father’s, and Speedy has one at his mother’s, they thought it was only fair to have one here.

The consensus was originally ‘absolutely not’ – too much work. We want to travel, we love to golf, we are never home. We don’t have a fenced yard, and I don’t want a dog in the house.

Until we realized that we are ALWAYS home. Yes we love to golf, but we don’t really travel, other than overnight sometimes. A fence isn’t that expensive, and the house is empty when the boys aren’t here… why not bring a furry friend in to love?

And so, the search began. First, it was finding a breed that fit with us. It had to be active, but not crazy; trainable, but not conniving, lovable and affectionate, with an even temperament. Then the debate: puppy or dog? Breeder or shelter?
While I love the thought of “rescuing” a dog, the unknown history would leave me feeling less than confident about having my less than calm children around it.

After much research, emails, phone calls, and a visit – we would like to introduce you to the latest member of the family:

Soul Man a.k.a. "Sam"

More to come, but have a look at this – Monster had known him for 10 minutes:

Best friends already