May 23, 2016: Aunt Lauriel passed away one week earlier. Walking into my late aunt’s home, I was immediately and fully absorbed by what looked like a polar bear on her living room couch.
In the midst of genuine sorrow, was a dog made out of a blanket of snow.
Everybody in the City of Boca Raton, Florida wanted to adopt Gigi. It was a point of contention between Aunt Lauriel’s friends and my immediate family. They were not to blame for either a false sense of responsibility nor a false perception of ownership. A person who deemed all love to be lost could find a friend and a purpose just by spending a few minutes with this 'good girl.'
Samoyeds are a notoriously intelligent and loyal breed. Recently, my family members decided to start spelling out P-A-R-K to each other, because if she hears the full word sounded out and is within a 5-mile radius, Dog God have mercy on you. The best part is that she officially learned to recognize this specific sequence of 'human letters' as a signal to begin her onslaught of hollering until we (as weak, subordinate homo-sapiens) have no choice but to comply.
The Samoyed is actually pronounced [sam-ee-yed]: a fact I read in a book and use at parties to sound like a pompous [-ass-]. Considering I had never seen an 80-pound Samoyed in my life, I decided to do a bit more research. The first American Samoyed was owned in Trenton, New Jersey. Ironically, Gigi found her way to New Jersey. The breed was developed during the reign of the Russian tsars by the ancient tribal people of northern central Siberia. Ancestry.com would later go on to tell us that Samoyeds are direct descendants of the Canus Lupus, monstrous grey wolves who grow up to 40 inches in height and 175 pounds in adulthood. Dire. Wolf.
Viva la Gigi
Gigi is as transparent as a domesticated animal could possibly be. Eight times-out-of-ten, she wears a smile from ear-to-ear: tongue out, obviously. Genuine happiness pours from her and positively inspires and reassures everybody around her. Her curled tail ‘viciously’ oscillates from the moment she hears somebody walk down the stairs in the morning for their first cup of coffee, to the moment before she jumps onto a couch that is just about her size to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones.
That ninth time out-of-ten is an absolute tirade. Her desire to be heard. Her bark is shrill, and it can be known to split the ears. Hungry? Arf-arf (nudges the side of your leg, walks toward the room where her bag of food is stored. Stops mid-way. Turns around to make sure you’re following. Continues the short journey that ends with her dancing near her bowl). Outside? Arf-arf (points at the door to the porch with her nose, then back to you, then back to the porch. Probably once or twice more, faster this time).
That tenth time is a rare occurrence, and it is something that resembles sensitivity and consideration. This is when her humanity is fully realized by us. It happens when there is negativity in the air, like when there is debate or disagreement; she is silent. Curious. In all likelihood, she pities us for not always seeing sunshine through the trees.
Winter is coming. Gigi the Samoyed-Dire-Wolf-Polar-Bear’s season of unadulterated bliss. It is only in winter that I can say with the highest degree of confidence that she is in her element. At first it was concerning, to see her laying on a sheet of ice beneath a foot or two of snow for hours at a time. She wasn’t moving. Was she entirely frozen in place like Jack Nicholson at the end of the The Shining? What do I tell the vet? Because the fact that she ended up being fine was equally as disturbing, I consulted the animal doctor. The vet said this is normal. “Normal dire-wolf behavior, if you ask me” (is what I would have said if I was a licensed professional).