Salem – Boykin Spaniel…
The brief history of Salem our Boykin Spaniel, And how we became dog lovers.
I was never a dog person… We always had cats when I was growing up, because my dad was not a dog lover. For reasons unknown to us. I suspect it had something to do with the “scotties” his family had when he was a kid growing up. Most of MY experience with dogs were with neighbors who had dogs, and the dogs either barked incessantly in the back yard or barked at me like I was a stranger… even though they saw me every day! This did not leave me with a very good impression of “man’s best friend”. That all changed when we inherited our daughter’s dog, Salem. Elizabeth was attending College of Charleston at the time and decided she needed a puppy. Ignoring our advice that she wouldn’t be able to take care of the dog, and or have the time for care and upkeep she purchased the South Carolina state dog, a Boykin Spaniel. As we expected, the dog had to stay in a crate while she socialized and went to school and Salem was getting miserable with her situation. We, being responsible parents who wanted to help our daughter, as well as the dog, decided to take care of Salem until Elizabeth finished school… 2 things happened: 1. She didn’t finish school. And 2. Somehow, we became very attached to Salem. We decided it would be better for everybody if Salem moved in permanently with us. We were now “Dog People”.
Salem, and I bonded quickly and became fast friends… We both liked the same things: the outdoors, hiking, hanging out with our people. She was a soulful dog who seemed to be happy, just being with us. We began to see our life as Us… and Salem. It was strange how quickly she had infiltrated our seemingly happy “non-dog” life and changed us for the better. How does a dogs presence in our lives change us? I can think of a few things right off the top of my head: Dogs are eternally optimistic. They start the day happy, and if your not, you have to be able to face your dog with a good reason on why it’s not another great day… Dogs are focused on the things that are really important: friendship, companionship, enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life. Dogs remind us not to be too serious, and they help us focus on something other than ourselves and our problems. In short, dogs make us a little less selfish.
Salem was with us for 13 years, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of the funny moments, and crazy situations we got ourselves in while we hung out together. I used to think I would write a book called “A Thousand Walks with Salem” when the end came, but after she was gone, I just didn’t want it to be over… My family and I still recall many Salem moments but as any dog owner will tell you, a dog passing is one of life’s saddest experiences.
We decided after some consideration to get another Boykin Spaniel puppy, thinking we would try to fill the spot Salem occupied in our lives, and “Birdie” arrived in February of 2019. Although she is the same breed, she has been a very different dog than Salem. In personality and temperament. Birdie was an 8 week old puppy when we got her, and Salem was already 7 months old. So there was a lot of puppy training that was required with Birdie that we probably forgot about after 13 years… Birdie has, In a way reminded me of how special Salem was, but I’m trying to give Birdie time to grow into our lives, and be “different” but be herself. She’s a year old now, and we’re still trying to deal with puppy madness but it seems like we’ve been through so much already. Here’s to hoping we can survive her “finding herself” as we find a new spot for her in our family!