Grampop and Sandy

There Is Nothing Like a Dog!

I remember when I was around 8 or 9.  Ma got me all dressed up because Daddy was taking me to a live production of the musical, South Pacific, the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit musical.  At the time, of course, I didn’t “get” all the meanings of the songs, but I was hanging out with my Dad, so it was all good.  

I really did enjoy the music and the performances (over the years, Daddy and I enjoyed many a musical together), and it was always fun riding home “singing” the tunes with Daddy. Daddy played drums for a living, so a lot of what we did was music-related.

These days, though, when I think of that night, I catch myself smiling as I paraphrase the lyrics of one song to “there is nothing like a dog.”  I guess I should be ashamed of myself, but . . . I’m not.

Almost all of my childhood was spent with a dog.  And there are so, so many memories throughout my life that include a dog – my own or someone else’s.  I just love them!  

Buster

When I was 3 or 4, we lived in Washington, D.C., and I had a white Spitz named Buster.  That was a hundred years ago, but I still remember his bright, white fur, his presence and his name.  More recently (as a young woman), I remember thinking Ma was crazy because she always referred to Buster as an “Eskimo Spitz.”  Since I’ve gotten into “researching dogs,” I have seen that reference.  Sorry, Ma!

Sandy

Years later, and on the other side of the country, from about the second grade through high school my best friend was a beautiful brown-eyed Cocker Spaniel/Dachshund mix named Sandy.  Well, that was her nickname.  Her real name was Madame Sandifur, but my brother gave her the nickname that lasted the rest of her life.

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Sandy Look-A-Like

Sandy’s coat was kinda golden brown/honey blonde with really light – almost white – streaks.  (I’m sure it would cost a fortune to get a hair stylist to create those colors for someone today!)  She had the brightest, most expressive brown eyes and long lashes, and her face was the perfect combination of the Cocker Spaniel and Dachshund.  She was low to the ground like a Dachshund, her body hair was short, except the long, wavy hair of the Cocker on her ears and uncut tail.  And she was sooo smart.  Just looking at those brown eyes, you knew that she understood every word spoken!  

There really is nothing like a dog!  

When you’re happy, she’s happy.  When your spirits are not up to standard, your dog will either commiserate with you or lie down next to you until whatever it is has passed or lick your face until you laugh and feel better.

Grampop

I was a jumping up and down happy second- or third-grader when Grampop came from D.C. to live with us. God, I loved that old man!  But the longer he stayed, the more roly-poly Sandy got. Grampop was feeding her two or three times a day!  

Now, Ma wasn’t the World’s Greatest Dog Lover, but she loved Sandy and she loved me.  And she saw to it that we had a lot of things that I loved. One incident between her and her father taught me that it’s our job to protect our best friends – no matter what.

She looked like a little golden blimp on the floor.  When she “walked,” she literally rocked forward, from one side to the other, to the next spot where she could lie down.  She looked like one of those balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Her fat belly was the only part of her body that touched the floor!  Even the child that I was could see she was miserable.

I overheard Ma having a conversation with Grampop about it.

“Poppa, you’re killing Sandy.  Please stop feeding her so much!”

“Killin’ her?  Hunph.  It’s a good thing I got here when I did – to save the little creature from starvation!”

“She wasn’t starving. She was right where she should be.”

“That’s all youknow.  She was starving!  Every time I touched my mouth, the dog was beggin’ for some of whatever I had!  Even when I didn’t have food.”

“Sandy is a dog, Poppa! They always want what we have, but we can’t always give it to ‘em!  Please just stop feeding her so much stuff.”

“I only feed her twice a day – and a couple of snacks in-between.”  

“Good God!  It’s not healthy for her to be fat like this.  She can’t even run and play with Sarah!  You think that makes herhappy?”  

“Maybe the dog don’t always want to run and play.  Ever hear of resting?  Hunph.”

“You think it makes Sarah happy that she can’t play with her friend?  When Sandy can’t run with her when she’s riding her bike?”

“You know, I did kinda notice the dog wasn’t goin’ out so much, anymore – ” 

“Right!  She can hardly get down the porch steps – ”  

“ – Figured she was just tired.  Hunph.” 

“ – and back up, again!”

“Hunph.”

“Yes, Poppa, that’s right. She is too tired because she’s too full. She’s too full to even walk around the house, much less runaround the neighborhood!”

“She never stops eating. I put the food down and she laps it right up!”

Poppa, Sandy is a dog!  She is never going to say, ‘Thanks, Grampop, but I’ve had enough.’ She will eat what you give her!”  

It seemed like a couple of minutes.  No one said anything, and no one left the table.  Then Ma started talking.

“O.K.  Just stop feeding Sandy.  Don’t give her any food of any kind – no meals, and, for God’s sake, don’t give her any snacks.  I don’t care if she begs.  Do you understand?  I will feed her or Sarah will feed her.  YOU WILL NOT!”

“All right, then!  It’s your dog.  If it dies from starvation, it’s on YOUR head, not mine.  Hunph.  I wash my hands of it all!”

How Grampop Probably Felt
How Grampop Probably Felt

I think Grampop might have stopped actually feeding Sandy, but he still slipped her some snacks when he thought no one was looking.  It took about a year, but, little by little, step by rolly step, Sandy got her figure and her joie de vivre back.

About a year after he arrived, Grampop went back to Washington, D.C., commenting that “This L.A. is too much for me.”  He never came to visit us again.

There is nothing like a dog!  

Almost every memory in my life contains an experience with a dog.  

There really is nothing like a dog!  

I want to share with the world how wonderful dogs are, by offering my experiences, anecdotes and other stories and information I find in my “research,” and anything else I discover that proves There Is Nothing Like A Dog.

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