Archive for March 24th, 2012


Sammie and the Goose

March 24, 2012


When my brother-in-law is out-of-town, I take Sammie for his morning walk.  If you are not a “dog-person” you may not know the wonder of this daily event.  Dogs have an innate ability to brighten even the gloomiest of days, simply by being glad to see you.  Add to that, their own excitement and joy knowing they are going for a walk and you cannot help but be overcome with the pure joy of the moment.  Most dogs and dog people have keywords they share that let them know something good is coming.  In Sammie’s case it’s “want to go?”  You say that to him and you will see the embodiment of joy.

Recently, as my brother-in-law was out-of-town, I was going to take Sammie.  He is a creature of habit.  Throughout the day, he will remind you he gets to go outside at certain times, if you forget.  He likes his dinner between 5 and 6PM, things like that.  His walk comes in the morning between 7 and 8.  Forget that one, and as sure as shooting, he will be nudging you towards the door.

On this particularly nice spring morning, I asked him “want to go?” He did.  Boy did he!  It is short drive to the park where I like to walk him. His excitement grows with each turn as we get closer to the park.   It is right next to the Lehigh River and the Northampton Canal Park.  Most people use the paved path that heads south along the river, Sammie and I take the unpaved northern path that takes us down the jetty that separates the river from the canal.  It is sort of wild and secluded and provides a much more interesting walk.  As Robert Frost would say “the one less traveled by.”

In the winter, the path is snowy and the canal is iced over and the jetty seems the preferred sleeping ground for a good number of deer.  As we would approach in the early morns, they would break and crash through the ice in the canal, fleeing to the safety of the far shore.  It was quite a site for Sammie and me to see.

D & L Canal

As the weather has warmed, all the migratory birds abound.  Many like to make a pit-stop on the canal before heading off to their final destination; to summer around Hudson Bay most likely.  So here we were, heading down the path.  Sammie is not an aggressive dog towards birds.  Squirrels on the other hand seem to be his sworn enemy.  He sees one, lunges on his leash, barks his head off, then looks back at me like “that was fun,” all the while, the squirrel scampers off, snapping its tail, as if laughing at Sammie, to the safety of a tree branch.

There we were, walking along, playing our squirrel-hunt game, ignoring ducks and geese along the way.  I guess we had gone about a mile, maybe a bit more when all of a sudden, seemly out of nowhere, a big, mean, noisy, squawking, white bag of feathers  charged Sammie taking him by surprise.  It flapped and squawked and bit Sammie with its beak right on the neck.  Now, by no means did it hurt Sammie, I mean, how could it?  It was a goose for crying out loud, not to mention Sammie’s several inches of fur protecting him.  Still, it did give him a startle.  I jumped too, but that was just to make Sammie not feel so bad about it all.

Even when chasing a squirrel, Sammie has a happy bark, a playful bark.  Not this time.  Sammie seemed incensed by this unprovoked attack.  He lunged and snarled and was just about to bite that damned goose’s head off when I pulled him back.  I pulled with all my might – I had too.  Sammie was in a rage.  That stupid goose just stood there flapping his wings making that god-awful racket that they do.  For a few moments it was a Mexican standoff with the goose having the distinct advantage.   Finally, I was able to pull Sammie far enough away he began to settle down.  All the while that damned goose just kept squawking.  I had enough, Sammie wanted to continue the debate with his feathered friend.

We made our way back to the car, all the while poor ol’ Sammie looking over his shoulder.   To be honest, I was half-tempted to let Sammie put that goose in his place but thought better of the idea.  Sammie was none the worse for wear but the next morning my arm sure was sore.  Sammie is a pretty much a passive dog.  Mostly we think of him as the sort of dog that will show a burglar where to the good china is.  It is good to know he can handle things when the situation calls for it.

Old Dam D & L Canal

The next morning, it was time to take Sammie for his walk.  All seemed perfectly normal.  Sammie was back to his never-ending battle with squirrels and ignoring all the birds around.  Then something changed.   As soon as we reached the part of the jetty where the battle-royal took place the day before, Sammie’s mood became intent.  He was on the hunt.  He lowered himself as we walked with his eye fixed in the distance.  Then he saw him, he saw that damned goose from the day before.  It was uncanny.  We must have passed four geese that looked just like this one with no problem.  Sammie knew the difference.  This one was still under his skin.  Again, he barked and pulled like he meant business.  This time, the goose kept his distance in the canal. I guess he figured he pushed his luck far enough the day before.  He did not even squawk.  Sammie barked and pulled but soon calmed down. He stood there on the bank of the canal and just watched his nemesis swim away.

He may have felt he lost the battle the day before but now he knew he had won the war.  No longer hunting, no longer feeling slighted, Sammie and I walked back to the car.  All the while Sammie held his head high and bounced with a swagger that all could see.  He did not even bother with the squirrels; he was living in the moment.  It was Sammie’s day to be king.

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