Sammy’s Big Smile

Sammy’s Big Smile

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Sammy’s Big Smile

What dogs? These are my children, little people with fur who make my heart open a little wider.

Oprah Winfrey

When I was a child my Aunt Julie had a dog named Sammy, a little black Chihuahua mix with a tongue as long as her body. Sammy could run up one side of your body, lick your face clean and run down the other side before you knew what happened. This adorable black dog always greeted you with a “doggy smile.” Sammy owned my Aunt Julie, and everyone in our family knew it.

One afternoon I was visiting my aunt. We were all dressed up and going out. I don’t remember the occasion, but I do remember that we were in an awful rush. My family comes from a long line of people who feel that if you’re not fifteen minutes early for an event, you are late! As usual, time was of the essence. Sammy, however, wasn’t in any rush. The only thing Sammy was interested in was getting some attention.

“No, Sammy, we cannot play,” my aunt scolded, “We have to go! Now!”

The problem was that we couldn’t “go,” because Aunt Julie had misplaced her false teeth. The longer we searched for her teeth, the later we got for the event and the angrier Aunt Julie became—and the more attention Sammy seemed to demand. We ignored Sammy’s barking, as we looked frantically for the missing dentures.

Finally, Aunt Julie reached her breaking point and gave up. She plunked herself down at the bottom of the stairs and cried. I sat next to her, counseling her with that special brand of wisdom eight-year-olds possess. “It’s okay, Aunt Julie, don’t cry. We can still go, just don’t smile,” I said, which made her cry even harder.

At that moment, Sammy gave a few shrill barks, this time from the top of the stairs, and then was quiet. As we turned around to see what she wanted, we both exploded into laughter. There stood a “smiling” Sammy—with Aunt Julie’s false teeth in her mouth—her tail wagging a hundred miles an hour. The message in her sparkling eyes was obvious: I’ve been trying to tell you for a half hour—I know where your teeth are! A vision that, thirty years later, still makes me laugh out loud.

Gayle Delhagen

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