Monday, September 21, 2009

Woman's Best Friend by Sandy Semerad

Joseph Campbell was known for saying, “Follow your bliss.”

P-Nut, my shih tzu, does this instinctively. She sniffs a wild flower like she’s reading a masterpiece.

Eckhart Tolle would be proud. She came into the world knowing how to live in the moment and give unconditional love and I suppose that’s why it’s difficult for me to believe that some human beings—I use the word loosely--train their dogs to fight and kill for amusement. The pit bull terrier is the breed they usually pick.

It saddens me. My daughter once had a Pit Bull named Sonja who could lick you to death, maybe, but never displayed a vicious streak, unlike some pit bulls that have maimed, killed people and animals whenever they were allowed to run free.

I once heard about a feisty pit bull named Major who roamed the farms around Hartford, Alabama, the town adjacent to where I grew up. “Major could tear your butt for a new one,” it was said.

Major was particularly unpopular with farmers because he killed hogs. One day Major made a terrible error. He killed Cody Ryles’ prize pig.

Cody grabbed his shotgun and sent Major to the great pit bull heaven in the sky.

Was Major bred for fighting and for the amusement of humans? I wondered, but no one seemed to know. I can’t believe he inherited his meanness.

I’ve read that pit bulls are a relative of the English bulldog. I’ve never owned an English bulldog, but I once heard about one named Bozo.

Bozo was trained to hunt wild hogs. He would bay the hogs and grab them by their ears until the capture was complete, the story goes. He was alternately tough and gentle. Tough, because he developed an immunity to rattlesnake bites.

Once when Bozo tried to catch a rattlesnake, the snake bit him and filled Bozo with venom. Bozo swelled up and almost died.

When he recovered, Bozo would grab every rattlesnake he saw by the neck and shake the dickens out of it. If the snake bit Bozo, he didn’t care, because the venom didn’t affect him one way or the other.

I have never had a dog like Bozo. My dogs have always been my confidants and guardians. As a child, I had a collie that followed me around and told on me if I did anything he thought was inappropriate.

I was a preschooler when he told on me for trying to burn down a few bushes in my back yard.

Yes, I’m sad to say, I was playing with matches. I must have thought burning the bushes would be a fun thing to do. Fortunately, Jack, our collie, barked his disapproval and told my mother before I started what could have been a major forest fire.

My late Mother used to talk about how Jack protected our family. I have to agree he was beyond wonderful, but then, most of my dogs have been wonderful, and I’m thinking even pit bulls can be wonderful too, when given half a chance.

I have read they are a cross between an English terrier and an English bulldog. I suppose most dogs are in the mixture category, far removed from what is called a pure breed.

When I lived in Atlanta, we had a dog named Sam who was said to be a mix of English terrier and German shepherd. One might say this combination would bring violence, but Sam was a sweet dog, although mischievous.

He loved to roam about and bring me contraband. One time he brought me my neighbor’s old house slippers, something I had no need for, but Sam acted excited. You would have thought he was giving me a diamond. He scratched on the screen door, and when I came to see what he wanted, he had the old torn slippers in his mouth.

I scolded him with “No, no.”

He cocked his head from side to side, not understanding obviously.

Another time, he snatched an old flannel, cherry-decorated nightgown from my neighbor’s clothesline. He had to jump our backyard fence in order to get it. The gown was ripped in the process. I’m ashamed to say I was too embarrassed to return it.

Ultimately, the torn gown ended up in my washing machine and then in the dryer. I was looking for something to frump around in one morning and lacking anything else, I put on the infamous gown.

As luck would have it, my neighbor—the rightful owner of the gown--came over to borrow a cup of sugar that morning. I had completely forgotten the gown’s origin until I saw my neighbor’s distressed expression at the sight of her flannel gown on my body.

Despite my embarrassment, Sam continued his antics until he met his maker one day. The pond behind our Stone Mountain home froze. Sam fell through the ice while he was chasing the ducks. He froze to death before we could rescue him.

In an attempt to recover from Sam’s death, we adopted a Brittany spaniel named Prince. His desires were simple. He wanted love, to be loved, to eat, chase squirrels, bark at falling leaves, run and play with the ducks.

I think Prince thought he was a duck, because he spent so much time playing with them. When we moved away from the pond, Prince suffered from depression. The lady who purchased our pond home heard about Prince’s agony and asked if he could return to his old homestead.

It was tough to give Prince up. But I wanted Prince to be happy, because I believed we should treat our pets with consideration and love.

In turn, they teach us how to love unconditionally, “follow our bliss” and live in the moment.
I’m still trying to learn that from P-Nut.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and please share your doggy stories.

  2. I remember one day when Sam was running down the road toward your house with another neighbors big bag of dog food being pulled along. As for Prince he did live out the rest of his life at the lake home.

  3. Sam was such a forager. I don't remember that, but I'm glad you do. Who are you? Your response just says "Anonymous" but you obviously know me. In any case, thanks for responding.

  4. Sandy - It is Monica. I asked Andrea did she forget to feed the dog and she said no why and I pointed to Sam running down the street dragging a bag of dog food bigger than he was.

  5. Hi Monica, great to hear from you. I hope you're doing well. Thank you for reading the column. I didn't know about Sam taking the dog food. Did you know Sam swiped your mother's bedroom slippers and tried to give them to me? Hugs, Sandy

  6. I am not surprised about the slippers, mom probably thought one of us kids walked off in them and left them somewhere. Andrea said he would bring home any thing that was left down. I think he got the dog food from the yellow house and Andrea and I did not like the girl living there at the time anyway. lol He was a funny dog. I love your stories. I am definitely going to have to buy your books since I love a good mystery.
    It is good to see you doing well.

  7. Sam was a funny dog and we missed him so much. Thanks for reading my stories. I hope to post more soon. At the moment, I'm working in Wimberley, TX, doing a book project for the chamber of commerce. I hope to finish the project and make it back home to Santa Rosa Beach soon. Thank you for your good wishes. I do hope you're doing well. Keep me informed and let me know what's going on with you. Hugs, Sandy


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