Sammy was an outside dog. My mother was adamant about that. Even when the dog developed a severe phobia after a palm frond fell on her head, my Mum did not relent. It was okay though because we were kids and we spent a fair amount of time outside so Sammy had plenty of company. She went to sleep in the laundry with a treat of two biscuits. These she refused to eat until we let her out in the morning; her way of punishing us.
I was responsible for her training and I spent hours teaching her to sit and stay and shake hands. We used to go for a long walk on the lead as soon as I arrived home from school. It was here that I developed my dislike of people who did not control their dogs. We had to avoid many streets to avoid dog attacks. Poor Sammy was frightened of her own shadow. It was also my job to feed her and this I did without argument. In fact the only task I baulked at doing, in regards to my best friend, was picking up the dog shits in the backyard. We dug a pit right up by the back fence, the furthest point from the house and into it went the millions of doggy done its. We lightly covered this with grass clippings and compost so that the blow flies did not become too bad. In the time we lived at Strathfield we must have dug oodles of holes.
We moved to Lindfield and for the first time Sammy was alone for long periods throughout the day. Dad now working 9 – 5 in the city and Mum and I were still travelling back to the other side of Sydney to our respective schools. I wasn’t just around the corner any longer, getting home early for walks. My brother, now in university, had a girl friend and hardly ever seemed to be home. Sam started to miss us and look for ways to follow us. Dad was the easiest to follow as he walked to the train station whereas we left in the car.
The day that I was playing in the orchestra for the musical Oliver Sammy had slipped out and followed my Father. Dad heard the screech of breaks and the squeal of an injured animal. Looking around he saw Sammy making her way from under a car and racing back down the hill to home, dragging her right rear leg. He followed and found her at the front gate, collapsed but conscious, blood pouring from a wound on her leg.
He phoned my Grandfather. He didn’t know what else to do as we only had the one car and we had taken that to school. From there I don’t know what he did but my grandfather told me he arrived and found on the front verandah; Sammy, weak but wagging her tail and my father passed out on the day bed. My father had never liked the sight of blood.
A trip to the vet and many stitches later Sammy was fine. I wasn’t told until after my concert and, although, angry about this at the time, I can see it probably made a lot of sense. Sammy never again left the back yard except on a lead.