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The Magical Tale of Sammy
The 6th member of our family is Sammy.  Sammy is a black and tan coonhound of sorts.  She's not a purebred, but she's got enough to look mostly like one and her other parts are made of golden heart and soft warm fur.

How we got to owning Sammy was really a bit of chance and luck.  It was a Tuesday afternoon and Daniil had an orthodontist appointment.  I decided to be nice and pulled him out a bit early so we could grab a Taco Tuesday special at our local Tijuana Flats.  It was a nice day, so we elected to sit outside and enjoy our meal.

While we were waiting we ended up sitting next to a kind gentleman named, Eric.  He was waiting for his tacos with his dog, Lady (the same name as a dog we'd fostered years before).  Daniil and I chuckled a bit at the odds of having not only the dog's name be the same, but the owner's.  The dog didn't seem to care, she just sat and stared at us with big warm eyes that seem to say "pet me. You know you want to."  Of course we wanted to and we did.

Once the other Eric left, Daniil began with his "can we please get a dog" routine.  This had become fairly regular around our house.  Daniil had been begging for the longest time and it was never the right time.  But, now we had just moved into the farmhouse and had lots of land.  Dr. Lou, who owned the property we were renting had told us we needed to get a dog, and I really didn't have any more excuses I could give.

So, I cracked a little bit.

I told Daniil we would have to wait until he had saved up the money for the adoption fee and then we could go look.

That night, Daniil kept talking about us getting a dog.  Tioma got wrapped into the entire "we're getting a dog" frenzy, but I had to keep reminding them, not until we'd saved up the $75 adoption fee.

After dinner, we went for a walk in the woods.  It was a nice evening out and we went a bit further back into the wood than we normally might.  The entire time Daniil kept trying to wear me down, "you know that dog was awesome.  You know you liked that dog."  He knew if he'd worn me down to $75 then surely the rest of the way wouldn't be too difficult.

Then fate stepped in.

Here we were, walking in the thick of the forest on land that people were seldom on.  The family that owned the land, seldom walked it, neither did the old men that worked it.  No, it was an odd place for me to look down and find a $50 bill on the ground, but I did.  I was delighted with my find and held it up in celebration and before I had even finished bragging Daniil yelled, "that's for the dog!  C'mon we found $50.  That means we are supposed to get a dog!"

It was a compelling argument at this point.

That Saturday I went to the shelter with Tioma and Daniil.  It was a nice facility and I steeled my nerves and my will so I would not walk out with every dog in the place.

Of course I walked in and immediately wanted to take them all home.  I can't help it.  I'm not just a sucker for Russians, but dogs too.  We walked around and looked at all the dogs.  Some sat trembling with their HUGE soul wrenching puppy dog eyes, but had signs "I'm adopted" meaning their look had worked on others.  Some dogs were too small, and then there were puppies both things I didn't want.

Then there was Sammy.

Sammy was in a big dog kennel filled with dog poop.  She stood with her paws against the cage barking like Cujo.  She was scary looking.  She was taller than Tioma when on her haunches.  She had a reduced price tag which meant time for her was coming to an end.  The boys were scared of her, but when I asked the volunteer she swore up and down that Sammy was sweet.  We took her to the special little room to get to know her.  She was distracted, the boys were nervous, but she was beautiful.  We decided to make her part of our family based solely on the fact that she was the first dog we petted.

After completing the paper work, we got our new dog and had a full 30 seconds of nervousness, then she got in the car and sat between the Tioma and Daniil and looked around as if to say, "Where to boys?"  She kissed and kissed and we laughed.  She was ours.  We got her home and ran with her on the farm.  She was loving her new lease on life and the boys quickly went from worried about this big dog, to in love.

As the day wore on and Tioma and Sammy began to calm down he came to me and said, "I don't want to ever wake up!"  I asked him what he meant.  "In Russia I could only dream of such a life.  Here I am in America, I go to a great school, I live with you, and I have the most perfect dog."  I smiled and patted him on the back.  Seems dreams really do come true, for both of us.

Sammy quickly became another member of our family.  She sleeps in Daniil's bed at night and is my co-pilot when I'm out and about.  She has been the perfect example of how great a rescued dog can be.  I'm personally convinced that rescued dogs never forget where they’ve been, and like rescued Russians, appreciation for their new life is always there, just beneath the surface.

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