Sleepy Sammy and Mischievous Maya
Invariably, when M.W. and I leave the house, Sammy leaves a puddle. Everything to Maya is a chew toy, including Boo Boo, Felix, and Delilah, our three cats. Sammy has a chronic case of separation anxiety, and Maya is a Twinkie-sized terrorist.
We’re all one big, bloody marvelous crew.
When I first met M.W., he described Bela and Sammy as different as night and day. Bela, a sleek, onyx mix of Lab and Rottweiler, was the independent, deep, soulful one, the one who took care of business. Sammy, a 105-pound, lumbering yellow Lab is, as M.W. likes to say, “dumb as a bag of hammers.” He does two things well: devour and snore. He short circuits around food, while Bela savores. A perpetual puppy, he runs and plays in his dreams. Bela was perfectly still, a light sleeper, seemingly braced to protect her family, even in her restful state.
When I got to know them, I made an observation: “Sammy’s smarter than you think.”
“You’re crazy. Here, watch this.” M.W. stood up and delivered an impromptu I.Q. test involving commands, treats, and unnecessary knee-slapping.
“You’re mean. Listen, hear me out. How much you want to bet that, when Bela passes away, he steps up to the plate. Seriously. I think he’s got it all figured out.”
“Got what figured out?”
“He doesn’t have to exert himself because Bela does it for him. And, he’s smart enough to wait until we’re in bed before he raids the trash. When we pick up keys, he barks like nobody’s business, and he seems to know he’s large. He’s super-careful with the other critters because he knows how big and powerful he is.”
As if on cue, Sammy cracked his head on the bottom of the kitchen table.
“Scratch that last one.”
M.W. was dubious–not to mention, red-faced, from all the whooping.
Unfortunately, I got the last laugh. When Bela left us, Sammy became more aware. When he hears an unfamiliar noise, he now positions himself between us and the door. As he is typically a gentle beast, when I watch him shred a branch or a bone, I shudder to think what kind of damage he could do.
Our wedding present to ourselves was a precious, little thing we call Maya. Feeling at home from the get-go, she curled up in my lap on the ride home and didn’t make a peep. Eyelashes a mile long, she knows just how to work it around her Daddy. She climbs up onto his chest, kisses his nose, and stares at him with those beautiful, doe-like eyes of hers. Turns him into putty every time.
Loaded with personality, she’s sweet, affectionate, spunky, and a bit of a bully. One minute, she’s docile and compliant; the next, she’s dragging Boo Boo across the floor by her ear.
Sammy and Maya go together like mac and cheese. One of Maya’s favorite places to tuck is alongside Sammy’s tummy. She mimics him. If he lays on his side, she lays on her side. If he sprawls, she sprawls. She chews on his ear and tongue and sticks her head in his mouth. And he lets her.
She lets me speak for her. When M.W. comes home, she jumps on the chair and says, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!!!”
“Were you good today, Maya?”
“Yes, very good. But Mommy put gravel in my bowl again, anyway.”
“Listen, Daddy, I’ve been meaning to talk with you about something. Can you teach me how to use that thingamajig so that I can order pizza crusts?”
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
Sammy lets me talk for him, too. When M.W. teases him and calls him fat boy or tells him he’s dumb, he says, “Screw. You. Love you, man, I do, but I don’t need this crap. I’ve about had it up to here with you and your little asides. Fat boy. Maybe you the fat boy, maybe you the one who ain’t too bright. Huh? Ever think of … zZZzzZZzzZzz …”
They’re a trip. I could watch them for hours. Each one has a unique presence. They’re such a gift, such a blessing. I kiss their heads and cuddle them every chance I get. I stroke their downy-soft ears and whisper on a religious basis: “I love you. Thank you for being a part of my life.”