No Samoyed Left Behind

Alex and I are working out way up the East Coast now with a new companion:  a 9-month-old Samoyed puppy named “Sammy”.  He wore out his welcome with a family in Norfolk, Virginia and is coming to Boston under my “No Samoyed Left Behind” initiative.  Samoyeds are unpopular for fairly good reasons.  Most people who want a big dog want one that will be aggressive and attack other humans.  Hence the Top 10 American Kennel Club breed registristrations include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, etc. (Pit Bulls are not an AKC breed.)  A second category of popular big dog is the obedience champ, e.g., Labs and Goldens.  These breeds are smart and make an owner feel good by hanging on his every word.  The Arctic breeds are big and smart (as measured by their ability to solve puzzles that reward them with things that they like, e.g., food) but they don’t see any particular reason to listen to most humans and they aren’t interested in attacking humans.  Samoyeds are easily bored.  Especially when young they seem to need constant companionship and entertainment, either from a person or another dog.  If they get bored they find ways to entertain themselves.  Unfortunately what is entertaining to a Samoyed usually is not entertaining to his or her owner.  Digging and chewing are popular pastimes as is destroying the rugs and furniture.

Sammy was living with a family in Norfolk.  It sounded like an ideal environment with a stay-at-home wife and kids aged 6 and 3 plus a backyard with pool.  Sammy, however, wanted to wrestle with the kids non-stop and they were really too young and small to deliver the required pounding to 45 lbs. of solid puppy muscle.  The wife had her hands full with the kids.  So Sammy was left alone in the backyard and would dig (“they did in the winter to keep warm; they dig in the summer to keep cool; they dig in the fall and spring to keep in practice” George’s breeder used to say).  He was sent to sleep-away obedience camp for two weeks and came back with a good report and knowledge of some commands, though not necessarily a lot of interest in obeying them.

So… now he is coming up to New England where I am going to let Alex wear him out for a month or two and then find him a home either in the suburbs where there is a big fenced yard and some other dogs or in the city with someone who works at home and can keep the dog with him or her at all times for mutual companionship.  No Samoyed should live in the South and no Samoyed should be left behind…

[The question of naming arises.  I like “Ralph” better than “Sammy”.  And there is a terrier in Manhattan named “Sizzler” whose name could be well applied to this little bundle of energy.  Any other ideas?]

16 thoughts on “No Samoyed Left Behind

  1. Any name is better than the our two. We got Napoleon and Jezebel from Buckeye Samoyed rescue. They are great dogs, but the have horrible names. I hope you enjoy life with a second fuzzball. After the initial month of being driven crazy by two rolling balls of fur, we have really enjoyed having a pair. They keep each other company well.

  2. When I was a teenager we had a Samoyed named Sasha, who I really liked–unusual, since I’m more of a cat person. I hadn’t really thought about why, but your post here makes Samoyeds sound somewhat cat-like–perhaps that’s the reason.

    I’ve heard stories from several different people that Samoyeds get along very well with small children, and are _quite_ willing to attack humans to protect them. This (in the stories I heard) was actually the reason why those poor dogs gotten rid of–it seems that Samoyeds don’t think that parents automatically have the right to assault their children, and parents don’t particularly appreciate have their children protected from _them_.

  3. Having grown up in Texas I’m curious about no dog left to grow up in the south. There’s actually a lot more space and a lot less tension down there. The last place I’d want to put a dog is somewhere claustrophobic and uptight like the Bay Area or Cambridge.

    Anyhow Samoyeds sound like the cats of dogs. Which I would consider a good thing.

  4. Ryan: the South is problematic for Samoyeds due to heat. The breed comes from Siberia. The South is also a place where animals are mistreated and abandoned far more casually then New England. In fact, the dog shelters of New England wouldn’t have any dogs available for adoption if they did not import them from the South, Texas, and sometimes as far away as Puerto Rico.

    Samoyeds are not the cats of dogs! They are pack animals, like the wolves from whom they were bred. House cats are descended from solitary hunters. If you’re a solitary hunter like a shark or a tiger, having a high intelligence is not evolutionary advantageous. The smart animals are the social animals that hunt or live cooperatively. (This is why lions are the smartest of the cat group and the easiest to train for circuses, etc., and why training a tiger is such an achievement.)

  5. Philip wrote, “If you’re a solitary hunter like a shark or a tiger, having a high intelligence is not evolutionary advantageous.”

    That statement seems rather dubious.  Do you have a reference?  Foxes are solitary hunters — and aren’t they known for their keen intelligence?

    Philip also wrote, “…the dog shelters of New England wouldn’t have any dogs available for adoption if they did not import them from the South, Texas, and sometimes as far away as Puerto Rico.”

    The practice of importing dogs is controversial:

    We in New England may indeed be doing a better job of informing and educating pet owners about the necessity of spaying and neutering our cats and dogs than other regions of the country.  There may be fewer puppies in shelters but I can assure you that most pounds and shelters that YGRR [Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue] deals with on a regular basis are full.  Since YGRR completed its expansion in 2001, we have been and remain full—all with dogs from the 6 New England states.  We continue to be at capacity and will not sacrifice services to older Goldens by shipping in more “adoptable” dogs.  This influx of adoptable Goldens would inflate our adoption numbers but would dishonor our mission to help dogs of all ages and medical conditions in New England.

    Older dogs have less chance of finding a new home if younger dogs (such as feral Puerto Rican street dogs and puppies from southern states) are being shipped in.  A number of prominent shelters in New England have age limits on the dogs they accept.  Some of these shelters ship in puppies because they are easy to place.  Look carefully at their criteria and mission statements.  Some do not take dogs over the age of five.  What do people think happens to those older dogs?  If they are Goldens, they may be lucky if they are referred to YGRR for admission.  Most aren’t and may end up in overcrowded and under funded shelters.

    Removing excess pets from these areas may save those individual animals, but these states will not learn to be more responsible about pet overpopulation if the problem is removed for them.

    Source:  "The Shipping of Dogs and Puppies into New England"

  6. Philip, a “preview” function would be very useful in the comments section.  The system somehow removed all my paragraph breaks.

  7. Alex: I have no control over the software that Harvard runs. I am grateful that I don’t have to deal with programming or hosting, both of which have become ghetto jobs.

    As to the IQ of solitary hunter animals, consider that sharks are much older evolutionarily than dolphins. Yet high intelligence was never apparently advantageous for the sharks so they did not evolve it. Whereas the dolphins need their big brains to communicate with each other while hunting. I’m not sure if foxes have ever been studied. They are not used for research, work, or performance, which is where most data on animal intelligence comes from. Cats, for example, though they have limited intelligence, have highly developed visual systems and are good for trying to figure out how human vision works. Dogs, by contrast, can be used for a lot of experiments related to human cognition and often do as well as 3-5-year-old human children at things like counting or figuring out whether an item should or should not be behind a screen. Quite a few parrot species are as smart or smarter than dogs but harder for humans to communicate with.

  8. Philip – Good luck with the new dog. I have a feeling that this dogs new home will be yours. Just a matter of time. I have two whippets.

    It does amaze me how a lot of people buy dogs based on machismo. Unfortunately, I think a pet salesman could sell a lot of dogs like rottweilers, pit bulls, etc by saying something like “Yes, the Rottweiler is the .357 magnum of dogs…”. People almost want a vicious dog for some reason. I think a lot of insurance companies will increase your premium if you own a Pit bull, etc.

  9. We’ve had our Alaskan Malamute mix (Humo – Spanish for smoke) that we rescued from a local shelter, for about six years here in Austin. He actually tolerates the heat better than our Beagle and the neighbor’s Lab, but his hair is shorter than a Samoyed. When it’s hot, I have to trim him myself. I can never find anyone who’ll just shorten his hair. They want to shave him completely, and his skin would be too sensitive to the sun.

  10. Philip, I concur with Johnny. I think you should keep your newest Samoyed. Having read almost every word on your site, and therefore knowing as well as I can what kind of pet owner/ownee you are, I am certain that Sammy (and by the way, the name sounds OK to me) could not find a better owner. No way after a month you will want to give him up.

  11. Dogs scare me. Especially big dogs. My girlfiend keeps insisting she wants a dog. She also tends to like big dogs. I have to say though that Alex is an amazing pup, and if the GF ever does get a big dog, I will insist that its a Samoyed.

  12. Fair enough on the South. I guess what reminded me of cats was “don’t see any particular reason to listen to most humans and they aren’t interested in attacking humans.” ;->

  13. 10 years ago I adopted a year old sammy from a family
    with little kid and a stay at home mom. he was chained
    to a post and was digging to china.
    he’s has been my best friend

  14. Even people should not be named Ralph. Ralph is an verb as in “Phil just ate some bad sushi. I think he’s going to Ralph.” Why not name him Digger since he likes to Dig? My neighbour had a Lab named Cheddar. Always liked that for a dog name. Why not look up some Eskimo words. What’s DOG in Eskimo speak?

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