By Jan Warrington
For Christmas 2017, my sister gave my husband and me a dish towel with a drawing of a dog seated behind a desk, and not just in any office, but the Oval Office. (We loved it!) The towel reads: “My dog would make a better president.” So true, several friends said after seeing the towel, only half in jest as they thought of our Vizsla Samantha.
Our dear Sam died a few months later, in March, 2018, a week shy of her 12th birthday. All dogs are special, our vet said, but Samantha was especially special. Today, Sam is rarely far from my mind so it’s not surprising that the towel would present me with an intriguing question: Just how would Ch. Verity’s Finder Samantha Star SH stack up next to President Donald J. Trump?
Spoiler alert (or maybe not): Pretty darn well; there’s plenty of truth and wisdom in that towel. And while I write this in jest, this comparison is bittersweet, emphasis on bitter.
Sam was a beauty. As a Vizsla, she was a natural golden rust, with none of that orange-out-of-a-bottle sheen. One judge said of her: “No dog should ever beat that bitch.” Her coat was soft and silky and never needed to be arranged for maximum effect, even in the show ring. I have to confess that Sam didn’t like the rain, but I’m guessing it wasn’t because she worried that it would muss up her coat. And her diet? Sam was a healthy eater — devoured her kibble, green beans and yogurt; no Diet Coke or fast food for her. Frank did buy her a McDonald’s hamburger once after a stellar performance in a hunt test.
Sam was a real Miss Congeniality. She was so sweet, and, like most Vizslas, what you’d call a champion wiggle butt. Friends coming through the door would marvel at her whole-body moves — prancing, almost levitating in excitement. She was never vindictive or divisive, more of a lover than a hater, often presenting her toys to visitors. Only once did she bite someone, and that was when our niece — who had put her head down next to Sam — got nipped on the lip. It turns out that Sam was suffering from an abscessed tooth, which was extracted soon after. Sloane and Sam remained pals, neither holding a grudge — certainly not reminiscent of the current occupant of the White House.
Sam was openhearted and welcoming, unlike the current president and his attitude toward immigrants. Once when friends brought their beagle Taz to stay with us, Sam happily shared her lumpy dog bed. Sam also exhibited an effective parenting style when her Vizsla nephew Rex joined us as a puppy when Sam was 6. Sam was nurturing and firm, authoritative but never authoritarian. The first time Rex tried to jump on the sofa, she let him know, in no uncertain terms, that she was the boss. He learned quickly.
And loyal, devoted? When Rex was about 6 months old, and he and Sam and Frank were out for a run in a wooded area, Rex became separated from them. Frank could hear Rex’s distant but loud bark, and — you got it — Sam took off running in the direction of those distressing sounds. A few minutes later — you got it again! — the duo reappeared, Rex trotting faithfully behind.
Was Sam ever alert, and focused! She could never have watched cable TV for hours each day; way too passive for her. Even at rest in Baltimore or the shore, she was constantly vigilant, interested in real threats, not imaginary caravans hundreds of miles away. She constantly monitored the scavenger doves and the sassy, saucy squirrels. For many of her days, she seemed to be in perpetual motion running up and down the boxwoods hunting rabbits who had the nerve to burrow in the hedge.
And, wow, was Sam ever calculating and strategic in her actions and her play. To watch her tussle with Rex was a lesson in life. She could do a great head-fake when they were wrestling over the squeaky football. But lie? No, she never would have earned even one Washington Post “Pinocchio.”
But make no mistake — Sam, like Barack Obama, the previous occupant of the Oval Office, was not perfect. Barack liked to smoke cigarettes, and Sam loved, loved, loved to roll in the squishy remains of a dead osprey.
What I’d give to have them both back.