Beyond Puppy Love: Michael and Sally
Her name was Sally. She had a blond coat, brown eyes and a wicked sense of humor. She was born in Paris, which probably explains why she could be both irascible and totally charming at the same time.
A Pyrenees Shepherd, bred to work with sheep in the mountains of France, Sally was probably not the best choice we could have made considering we lived in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. But for us, it was love at first sight. On the flight home from Paris to New York, my wife cuddled the little eight-week old in her lap while the other passengers cooed and fawned over the puppy.
She was so beautiful, sweet and loving. What could go wrong? Well, basically everything. As she grew, she followed her instincts and herded everyone in sight. From our daughter's friends to the other dogs she walked with in a pack every day for two hours. Her favorite method was to nip at the heels of anyone who got out of line. This included the superintendent of our building and various strangers on the street who got in her way. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time apologizing.
Even after spending a month with a professional trainer, Sally remained true to her DNA. She was a herder, a worker and she wasn't happy if she didn't have a job. Still, through it all, she was a lover too. I think it was her intelligence and toughness that made her affectionate personality all the more remarkable. She had a habit of looking you straight in the eye and holding your gaze. You could feel that she was communicating something from deep down inside. And that something was love—pure, unconditional love.
Sally lived to be 13, and it broke our hearts to lose her. Even as I write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. She was never easy and that may have been why we loved her all the more. And Sally loved us back. The way only a great, unforgettable dog can.
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