Monday, March 8, 2010

Samson's Sleepover

One week ago, my little Westie, Samson, had his first sleepover. Samson is 10 years old, set in his ways and has some chronic illnesses, plus losing a bit of his eyesight. But he seems to be happy, loves going outside to check the yard for smells many times a day and taking naps.

Monday a week ago started off in a routine way. Samson was asleep in his cage; he loves his cage, sleeps there and takes his treats there to nibble on them. I left for what I thought would be a routine annual checkup at my cardiologist's office at 1 pm , and told Samson my usual line "Mommy's going to work and I'll be home later." He grew up hearing those words daily, so I still use them when I leave the house. Samson doesn't know I've retired.

After the routine EKG during my visit, things quickly began to move in another direction. They explained that I was to go to the hospital NOW and my admission papers were being prepared. Evidently I was in a major episode of atrial fibrillation, but was having no pain. Within a half an hour, I was at the hospital being settled into a room in the heart care area. All this was a first for me as I've been so blessed health-wise, with no experience with a surgery or hospital stay.

Since all of my my relatives live several hours away, I quickly called a friend of mine, Jesse, because I knew that Samson would be wanting to go out to potty soon. Jesse was my platform assistant and church board president/member when I was in ministry, and we have remained friends. He lives about an hour from me now, and we chat by phone often. He's looking for girlfriends and shopping for a new home; I'm looking for sales in my Etsy shop and new ideas for art. He still considers me his minister, as well as his friend.

When I reached Jesse by his cell phone, he replied "I'll be right there." I suggested that he bring his lap top so I could put my Etsy shop in vacation mode. I then gently suggested he bring some clothes so that he could stay over at my home and take care of Samson. There was a long silence on the phone, and I could almost hear him thinking "Samson?" but he softly said "ok" and "I'll call you back when I'm on the way."

See, Jesse is not a pet owner or a dog lover. I don't think he had dogs when he was growing up, and he's never mentioned owning one. I suggested to him recently that he watch "The Dog Whisperer" so he could learn about dogs, as most of the women that he will meet to date will have dogs. I know that he has learned a lot from watching "The Dog Whisperer" as he has asked a few questions about Samson in the last few months. I think that Jesse just thought that dogs do whatever their masters ask them to do. I think that Jesse likes animals and dogs, he just hasn't lived with one.

When Jesse came to my hospital room, I gave him my valuables and directions for feeding and caring for Samson. I also gave him all my passwords and other PC information that I've never written down, so he could check my Etsy shop for me. Jesse left for my home around 6 pm, promising to call me later in the evening, and I relaxed a bit.

My first call from the sleepover came around 8:30 pm. Jesse said "What do I do with Samson? He keeps asking to go outside." I explained that Samson loves going outside and will continue to ask to go outside as long as you continue to take him. I taught Samson when he was a puppy to ring a small bell on a cord from the front door knob when he needed to "go potty." He learned quickly and still does that. So Samson kept ringing the bell, and Jesse kept taking him outside, thinking it was a real need to potty. I explained to just feed Samson, and put him in his bed, and he'll take a nap.

The next call came within 45 minutes. "How do I get him to quit barking? I gave him more water and food." Samson barking?? Samson never barks. But I could hear this loud barking in the background as Jesse explained: "I moved his cage in near the sofa so he could see me while I watched TV and all he does is bark at me." I could just see Samson grinning to himself while he was barking, and thinking "all I have to do is bark, and this guy will give me anything I want."

While I explained to Jesse the concept of "NO" to be said in a forceful voice, Samson continued to bark. I explained to think of Samson as a two year old child wanting his own way, and Jesse seemed to understand. I could still hear the barking as Jesse hung up. There were no more calls that evening.

When Jesse came to the hospital the next morning, I learned more about their sleepover. Jesse said after trying to keep Samson happy and stop the barking, he was so tired that he went bed early, around 10 pm. I had suggested that he take Samson out right before he went to bed...but he didn't do that. So Samson decided in the middle of the night that it was time to go potty, and woke Jesse up with his barking. So they wandered around the yard in the dark, which I'm sure that Samson enjoyed immensely, and Jesse endured with his eyes half closed. Jesse was raised in the city, and is amazed that Samson and I wander into my yard at night with all those snakes, our resident black bear and the Florida panthers too. So I know that Jesse had at least one eye open for any night critters.

I told Jesse I was going to be released after lunch, so he returned my valuables and car keys and headed for home....for a nap, he said. Samson was also asleep when I got home that afternoon, and woke up and looked at me. I asked him how he liked his sleepover with Uncle Jesse. He just closed his eyes and went back to his nap. He's back to his usual happy, quiet self and has never barked since.