Now these many months on from the Saturday morning he came to us as a quivering shadow of himself, Sammy has become a jostling, tail-wagging mainstay of the family mix. Take stairs, for example.
Stairs are everywhere in this 1930s-vintage house of ours. Two sets of the things lie between the basement (where Dogs Sleep and Dad Works), one outside and one inside. Then there are the stairs that take us from the ground floor to the second, where People and the Cat Sleep and where Dogs Must Not Go.
Sammy once cowered before this labyrinth of confusing, slippery, terraced minefields. They made sense, perhaps, for creatures who could see but figured in the psyche of a scared, blind canine as a place of dragons.
No more. The Samsters fairly races up the stairs and has perfected his own high-speed, feel-yer-way-down-bud approach to descending them. Rosie races past him on the downstairs run, all fluid, Rhodesian, motion but he does not lag far behind. He is the virtual Champion of the Stairs (Blind Division).
Sammy even manages to creep up to where Dogs Must Not Go and terrify the cat. While napping just the other day, we awoke to the scene of Sammy enveloping our hissing Maine Coon cat in his notorious crocodile jaws. He had slipped past the relevant doors, made his way to the illegal upstairs in silent undetection, and wrapped his wolflike mouth around our displeased feline without our ever noticing. Bad Sammy! Smart Sammy …
My morning ritual of descending to the kitchen with a singular focus on the coffee maker is also the signal for the dogs downstairs to ascend the outside steps that lead from the basement to the backyard, make their way across the back deck, paw at the door, and then swoop in like a brownish-red river of animal energy as I open the door to them. Sometimes Rosie dashes in first with Sammy hard on her tail. At other times, this newly confident boy doggy takes the lead, rushing in first for the ritual joy of inspecting a kitchen so exciting it must certainly have been built overnight while dogs slept.
As I settle into my easy chair for my morning reading, both dogs come to me for the required consultation, hip-scratching, and assurances that, yes, the master still loves his doggies again, today. Then they settle, after some playful mutual gumming of each other, into their morning naps while master does his silent thing in his easy chair.
Sammy is now at the heart of it. He asks no quarter, demands no special treatment, refuses to milk the blind thing.
Sammy has become, in a manner of speaking, the man.