Sam’s backstory was vague—“a stray from Chicago”. With that, I envisioned him standing along Chicago’s Navy Pier, looking over Lake Michigan—long ears blowing in the breeze like wind socks. Or, stealthily hanging out near a hot dog cart on the corner, hoping for an unsuspecting tourist to drop a pickle.
When we met Sam, he pounced across the length of the room, nails clickety clacking, his hind end moving one direction, his front end moving the other, and ears swinging side to side.
During our first months with Sam, we discovered he wasn’t a fan of men with gray hair. He’d hide behind my legs emitting a low-grade grumble that made his loose lips to gently vibrate. Soon, he learned that men with gray hair weren’t so bad. Sam was also averse to brooms. He’d scuttle away & peer around the corner until it disappeared. And when left alone for longer than 30 seconds, Sam made his displeasure known with deep, desperate wails that could be heard for blocks. Over time, he learned we always come back & there was no need for melodrama. With training, Sam learned that he does NOT get to sleep on the couch. So, whenever we re-enter the house, he jumps off the couch, trots to his bed & pretends to be asleep—as if he were there the entire time.
It’s been 4 years now. Sam usually lays in his plush bed. He watches me—raising his left brow, his right, his left again. I speak to him in a sing-songy voice, “How did you & those pendulant ears end up homeless? Did a gray-haired man with a broom hurt you?” He sighs, climbs off his bed, elongates himself into his best cobra pose, wanders over, & nudges me for a pat.