This page is dedicated to "Sammy". We first spotted her at the Hoxton Park Animal Shelter in Sydney, when she was just 6 weeks old. She was very cute & we were told she was a cross between a red cattle dog & a corgi. She was apparently part of a large litter of pups & when we visited the shelter, there were only 2 pups left. Derek brought her home in the ute, in a cardboard box & she also came with a bowl, collar & lead. She soon settled into our little ground floor, garden unit in Petersham (where we weren't allowed pets!), but as we were soon moving to Mudgee, we would only be there for a few weeks longer.
Right from the beginning, Sammy was mature for her age. She was naturally obedient & very keen to do the right thing. She was a terrific traveller, loved the car so the 3 hour trips to Mudgee at weekends were the highlight of her week. We very soon moved permanently to our 75 acre Mudgee property & she loved the country life.
One sunny morning she went missing. After a while we heard rustling on the hill next to the house & went to investigate. There was Sammy, still a small puppy playing with a king brown snake! The snake was veered up, darting back & forward at her, ready to bite! Sammy seemed to think it was a game & was barking & dodging the snake's attempted attacks. Horrified, we gently called Sammy back down towards us & thankfully she obeyed. Derek quickly got the gun & went back to shoot the snake, but it had dissappeared. Next day, we found sammy standing on top of a rock looking down at something... yes it was the same snake. This time we made no mistake & quickly shot the culprit.
When Sammy was just 11 months old, we took her on a 3 month caravan trip around Australia. She took to it like a duck to water & loved visiting new places & meeting new people. She went everywhere with us including Broken Hill, Ayres Rock, Karumba, Port Douglas. One of her favourite places was the mud flats on the shores of Karumba where she spent hours squelching through the soft mud chasing tiny crabs. She also loved bounding through the shallow water at Karumba, we look back now & realise how dangerous it could have been as saltwater crocodiles inhabit that area!
We spent a month at a caravan park on the beachfront at Port Douglas. Sammy loved this place as each afternoon we'd take her out on the sand when the tide was out & she'd walk for miles, coming across the odd fish & stingray in the puddles of water. On the odd occasion when we had to leave her at the camp site, she'd curl up in a chair & go to sleep. We came back one day to find her asleep on top of the table outside our van! She was becoming well accustomed to the camping lifestyle. When we arrrived at different camp sites, we'd show her the boundary & tell her not to go beyond our site. She seemed to know exactly what we meant & never ventured out of the imaginary boundary line. An elderly couple opposite our site in Port Douglas commented that she was the most well behaved dog they'd ever seen. I must admit there was one incident where she did blot her copy book - we were in a resort camping area in Alice Springs. The shower block was a fair way from our site, so we told her to "stay" & we'd be back soon. We didn't bother to tie her up, as she had never ventured off & we thought we could trust her. When we emerged from the shower block, there she was - right outside the shower door!! She was crouched quite close to the ground with an "I've been caught" look on her face. After a stern word & a pointing finger, she was soon on her way back to the van - an inch from the ground & in complete disgrace.
When we completed our journey & returned home, she had a little bit of trouble adjusting to normal life again. Each time we went to town in "her" ute, she thought she should come too. One day we came home & found one of the neighbours had tied her to the verandah. Apparently he'd spotted her chasing our ute down the dirt road & whistled her back. The next time we went out, we stopped the ute a fair way down the road & waited to see if she was following us. Sure enough, she came racing up the dirt road a few minutes later. A good scolding & taken back home & that was the last time she tried that trick.
A few months later we decided to get a sister for Sammy, so along came our second dog "Bessy". Sammy was NOT IMPRESSED!!! Up till now she'd been the center of attention & now she had a cute 7 week old border collie as competition. She soon let Bessy know that she was "top dog" & Bessy was more than happy to be bottom of the pack. It wasn't long before Sammy was very protective over her new sister & as Bessy grew larger, she also became protective of Sammy. Before long they were best mates & went everywhere together. Sammy, however was still the boss & Bessy did whatever Sammy wanted.
When she was 6 years old, we left Mudgee & moved to 1.5 acres on the Gold Coast. Again, she settled into her new life straight away. By this time our business had grown & we were operating out of a warehouse in Burleigh Heads. Sammy & Bessy accompanied us to work every day for over 9 years. Our warehouse had a garden so they were able to go in & out as they pleased.
Thoughout her 15 years, Sammy managed to get a few nick names. Her best known was "Dammasog" - this originated from calling her "Sammy Dog", which became "Dammy Sog" & finally shortened to "Dammasog". She answered to this name instantly. We also referred to her on occassion as the "Eating, Sleeping, Swimming, Kissing Dog", as these four things were her favourite past times in that exact order. Eating was the major importance in her life as she adored her food. At one stage she'd eat absolutely anything including cucumber, pineapple, tomatoes. She did however draw the line at lettuce. In Mudgee she used to go blackberrying with us into the bush. She got to know which blackberries were ripe & would pick them off the lower branches with her teeth & eat them!
One of her other strange habits was to bite the burs out of our socks. After we'd been bush walking & our socks were full of spiky burs, she'd spend ages picking every last one out of our sock & chew up all the burs!! I think it was her way of mothering us, as we used to pick burs out of her coat that she couldn't reach herself.
Sammy also had a way of getting exactly what she wanted. One of her favourite tricks was to entice Bessy to the bedroom window at bed time by barking at something in the street. Bessy would leap out of bed to see what was happening & Sammy would quickly make herself comfortable in Bessy's bed!
Unfortunately Sammy gradually developed "degenerative Mylopothy". It's a very debilitating disease not dissimilar to "Multiple Sclerosis" in humans. It also affects the brain so she also developed "doggie dementia". She lost complete control of her back legs & at the end could not feed herself or drink water unassisted. She also had no idea what was going on & did not even seem to know who we were any more. As a result, just a month after celebrating her 15th birthday, we made the heartbreaking decision to put Sammy to sleep. It was the hardest decision we'd ever had to make, but we knew it was the right one. We just couldn't bear to see her suffering any more. She now occupies the best spot in our beautiful garden with a view to the Tallebudgera creek.