Friendly Companions from Siberia

Last week our neighbor’s computer was stolen. His front door is less than ten steps from ours – his house is a mirror image of ours – and when he left his door unlocked and went out for a couple of hours in the middle of the day last week someone strolled up, let themselves in, picked up his computer, and took off. I was likely sitting right next door when this happened.

Mike and I were less than thrilled when we learned about this. We really like our house. All the toilets and air conditioners and taps are working now, and it’s beautiful, really. Downstairs is just one large, tiled, space. In the middle of the room are two gothic pillars – I call it the ballroom. From one end of the ballroom a curved wooden staircase sweeps up to the second floor. It’s all very Gone With The Wind.

Even the windows – draped with gold tasseled curtains – are beautiful. But it’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t fully realize until after we’d moved in that one of the reasons they are beautiful is because they are not obscured by burglar bars. Or that the locks on these clear panes of glass are, shall we say… flimsy. Or that there’s no easy way to secure them from the inside because all the windows in the house (all nineteen of them) open from both ends.

So in light of recent events, we’ve decided that we really do need to get a dog, and this weekend we started trying to figure out how to do that.

Most people, it seems, get their nice big dogs from Thailand or China. But on Sunday we got a tip. There is one place in town that sells dogs, a friend told us. If we went right at the petrol station and down past the first roundabout we’d see a small shop selling bonsai trees. That was the place.

So on Sunday we went looking for bonsai trees, hoping they’d lead us to puppies. And sure enough, they did. In the back room of the bonsai store, in a wire cage, was a beautiful ball of white fluff that licked my fingers and batted my wrist with her paws and tried her best to climb out of the cage and into my arms.

“Awwww,” I said. “Awwwww.”

“What is that?” Mike asked.

“It looks like a husky,” I said.

The bonsai-dog seller couldn’t speak any English, but he bought out a book and pointed proudly to a picture of a very large, very furry, white dog. This adorable little bundle was a Samoyed. And she cost three hundred US dollars.

What is a Samoyed doing here?” Mike asked.

“She’s so cute,” I said.

“Yes,” Mike said. “She’s a very cute puppy that’s going to grow into a big hot muddy ball of tangled fur. What is a Samoyed, anyway?”

“I think they’re sled dogs,” I said.

“Obviously,” Mike said, nudging me out of the store. “Because it makes total sense to import a sled dog to Laos.”

I think Mike thought that was the end of that conversation. Silly Mike.

When we got home later that day I looked up Samoyeds.

“The Samoyed comes initially from Siberia,” I said, looking across the kitchen table and Mike at smiling guilelessly. “She’s a long way away from home… just like us.

“Siberia,” Mike said. “What else does it say?”

I foolishly continued reading the Wikipedia entry out loud without editing anything out. “Samoyed’s have a dense double layer coat. The undercoat consists of a dense, soft, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The undercoat is typically shed heavily once or twice a year. This does not mean the Samoyed will only shed during that time however; fine hairs (versus the dense clumps of top coat shed during seasonal shedding) will be shed all year round, and have a tendency to stick to cloth and float in the air.”

Mike gestured to the ballroom behind us. “Are you seeing it?” he asked. “I want you to picture the whole room full of white hair floating in the air.

“That is what we have a maebaan for,” I said. “We were just saying we didn’t have enough for her to do.”

Mike looked at me with narrowed eyes.

“This is not a good idea,” he said.

“Nomadic reindeer herders bred the fluffy white dogs to help with herding and to pull sleds. She’s a working dog,” I said, starting to build my case. “She can work for us.”

“What we need is a guard dog,” Mike said.

“Well…” I said, scanning down the wikipedia entry, “it doesn’t actually seem that she’d excel in that domain.”

“What does it say?” Mike said.

“Samoyeds’ friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. But,” I rushed to keep reading as Mike started laughing. “Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children, and they remain playful into old age. When Samoyeds become bored they…”

I stopped reading.

“Go on,” Mike said, still laughing.

“They may begin to dig. And herd things.” I finished lamely.

“But they are excellent, friendly, companions,” I reminded him, trying to regain some ground.

“And you live in such an affection vacuum that you’re in desperate need of friendly companions,” Mike said.

“She and I would understand each other,” I said. “We both thrive in cool climates. She could sit beside me under the air conditioner at the kitchen table. She could lie on my feet and keep me company.”

“Right,” Mike said. “Because that’s exactly what you’d want – a giant furball lying on your already overheated feet.”

“Well,” I amended, “she could lie beside my feet. And occasionally she could reach out and lick my good foot. Gently.”

“Of course she would,” Mike said. “Of course. Only your good foot. And only gently. And I can see it now – this shedding ball of fluff who wants to dig and herd and who hates the heat and that we’ve said we’ll train to stay downstairs. You’ll go upstairs to work in the study and feel sorry for the hot little Samoyed downstairs and you’ll leave the air conditioner on for her.

“No I wouldn’t!” I said, shocked. Then I thought about how hot it can get downstairs and I amended. “Well, maybe, on very hot days. For she would be a friendly companion.”

No,” Mike said.

Late last night, right before we went to sleep, I rolled over to Mike and cuddled up to him lovingly.

“Friendly companion,” I whispered in his ear.

Guard dog,” Mike said. “She’d herd an intruder right to our computers and lick him along the way for good measure. Besides, who buys a three hundred dollar dog in this town?”

Then he laughed. “I know exactly who buys them. Men who are incapable of standing up to their wives, that’s who.”

“Friendly. Companion.” I said in my most alluring voice.

“Go to sleep,” Mike said.


15 responses to “Friendly Companions from Siberia

  1. So, uh, is the puppy home yet? 😉

    • Sigh, no. This morning’s conversation went like this. Lisa to Mike: “You are my favorite friendly companion.” Mike: “Awwww.” Lisa: “And if you didn’t have to go to work, then maybe I wouldn’t NEED another one.” Mike (rolling his eyes): “If I didn’t go to work today, or all days, we will not be living in Laos for much longer. And, no. This is still a bad idea.” He’s so wrong on this one, I just know it :).

  2. As one who didn’t realize exactly how MUCH dogs shed…I’m with Mike on this one, Lis.

    • Yeah, they shed. But so do I, and I’m allowed in the house. Plus… all joking aside, we really do need a dog. Especially given Mike spends some nights out on the field and I’m here solo. So it’s more a question of “which one” rather than “do we”.

  3. I’ve contemplated all day long how many hours it will be before your new guard dog lives upstairs. I’m going with no longer than one hour and thirty-seven minutes. Dozer says he highly recommends labs, specifically yellow ones. 🙂 No one has ever made it to the door without him alerting me, and I do sleep sounder at night knowing he’s on duty.

    • We are on the lookout for yellow labs, having fallen wildly and madly in love with Dozer, but it appears that dogs bred for the arctic are the flavour of the month for imported puppies, not yellow labs. But as for upstairs… we have told our landlord that we’ll train the dog to stay downstairs to avoid possible damage to wooden floors upstairs. So we need to stick to that one. But I have your bet on record and I’ll keep you posted.

  4. It’s 5.35am here and I’m awake with jet lag and have just chortled my way noisily through this entire post. Not only has it greatly improved my mood about being awake this early, but I am fairly sure the people on either side of my room think I am now deranged…

    • I’m always delighted to be able to alleviate any jet lag misery in any small way whatsoever. I had a great deal of fun writing this yesterday, glad you had some fun reading it. You’re in Niger, now, I presume from facebook updates etc. Hope all’s going well there. (PS, am so excited to see you guys in Dec).

  5. Pingback: Draft two, check, and prologues | Wandering. Wondering. Writing.

  6. Fabulous writing, Lisa.

  7. I’m a little behind on reading the blogs, but I must say that I had a Samoyed growing up in Nashville. He was wonderful. We’d just shave him when the weather got hot. Just tell McWolfe that it will be FINE!

  8. Pingback: A tale of two puppies | Wandering. Wondering. Writing.

  9. Pingback: 30 great gifts for pregnant women and new parents | Wandering. Wondering. Writing.

  10. Pingback: Draft two, check, and prologues | LisaMcKayWriting

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