During the initial years of my childhood, we had cats. They were always there from the time I was born. Thus, I always had an attachment to them. My brother Davy on the other hand, always liked dogs as a child. I don’t know where it came from since before Sapphire (our Siberian Husky), we didn’t have a dog. As early as three years of age, Davy liked dogs. In August of 1989, we made “special things” books, which were scrapbooks containing pages with torn out pictures of things we liked from magazines, catalogues, advertisements, boxes etc., and also stickers. Davy and I each had a book, and his contained a section with pictures of dogs. One of Davy’s favorite books was The Pokey Little Puppy, and he really liked his plush dog with a Santa hat named Santa Dog.
Davy really wanted a dog. It just happened that in 1990, Dad knew a person at work, who had purebred Siberian Huskies. Their husky unexpectedly had puppies on September 20th, 1990, and its owners were looking for homes for the dogs. I remember when we took the trip to see the puppies for the first time. They were at a house on top of a large hill. Picking Sapphire was quite easy. Most of the puppies had brown eyes, and were brown and white. Sapphire had blue eyes, and beautiful black and white fur. We wanted a dog with blue eyes, and I liked Sapphire’s uniqueness. We also met the parents of the puppies.
We were allowed to take Sapphire home on November 2nd of that year. We named her Sapphire Cornflower for her beautiful blue eyes. Davy quickly became interested in huskies after getting Sapphire. Since huskies are associated with being sled dogs, he also became interested in Alaska. This led to some funny tricks such as telling him that McKinley Street in Chambersburg went to Alaska. For some reason that didn’t work. Davy also got into the story of Balto, a sled dog who was a hero in Alaska for carrying medicine when no one else could get through. We also collected receipts during our first trip to White Marsh Mall in Maryland, that allowed us to receive a plush husky which we named Balto.
Sapphire had some interesting features. I was surprised to discover that she had whiskers. I had thought that only cats had them. Davy noticed her black lips and said, “Sapphire has black yips.” He was going to speech therapy, and had trouble making his “l” sounds. Though dogs are known to bark, Sapphire only barked if a person she didn’t know was around. This made her a great guard dog. What sound did she make otherwise? She howled like a wolf. She also made a sound that resembled talking. If she was to get in trouble and was being yelled at, she would respond with this sound. It sounded like she was arguing or talking back.
She lived in our screened-in porch. We had a dog house for her there which was surrounded by a play yard. Somewhere we had heard that dogs can see red, which led to getting her a red toy. Her first and favorite toy, was a squeaky hedgehog. We also got her two toy bones to chew on; after all she’s a dog, and dogs need bones. Since in reality actual bones aren’t good for dogs, we bought her the toys. She had both a Nylabone and a Gumabone. Though I believed she liked her Nylabone better, I thought her Gumabone was funny. It was a bone in a shiny yellow color.
During the spring of 1991, it was time for Sapphire to go to school, or I mean dog training. She had a great trainer in McSherrystown. Sapphire was in a class of two. She easily was number one in her class. Besides the other dog, Buckwheat, being laid back, we got Sapphire before Mom went back to work. Mom had a lot of time to work with Sapphire, and teach her all the commands. Sometimes I would go along to watch the training, other times I’d stay home, and play Disney’s Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers for Nintendo. Sapphire was well trained, and walked well on a leash. Though she wasn’t house trained, she was clean. She kept her enclosure clean. When we had her in the house, we put her leash on, and attached it under a table or chair leg. She would keep this area clean.
When it came to food, she was funny. Dad would buy her a small bag of food. She would seem to like it. Then when he turned around, and bought her a big bag of the same food, Sapphire would stop eating it. She did this for several different types of food. The type that gained notoriety was Dinner Rounds. We tried to get rid of them, after Sapphire played her trick, by giving them to her as treats. It didn’t work. Eventually, we found Purina One, a type of dog food which she did seem to like.
Similar to other dogs, Sapphire loved treats. She liked bone shaped dog treats. One time I decided to lick one, as I thought they didn’t smell bad, and was curious about the taste of them. She also enjoyed Beggin’ Strips. They were bacon flavored, with the commercial suggesting that dogs thought they were getting the real thing. The treats also resembled bacon. Since I didn’t like bacon, I decided that Sapphire shouldn’t want Beggin’ Strips. I tried to tell Davy, that she didn’t like them, and she would take them to the basement of her dog house instead of eating them. Of course, she didn’t have a basement, but I tried to convince him that on the side of the dog house were steps that led there. He wasn’t that gullible. She also received a canned-food birthday cake for her birthday. Occasionally in the summer, we’d get her Frosty Paws, which were “ice cream” treats for dogs. She also enjoyed rawhides.
Sapphire enjoyed shoes, but not in the traditional sense. Dogs seem to enjoy chewing on shoes, it’s a simple fact. When we got our first dog, that was something we kept in mind. What Sapphire did, was take our shoes, and line them up around her. She didn’t chew on them though. What it seemed to be, was that she liked our scents on them to keep her company when we were all away.
Being a husky Sapphire enjoyed being outside. We also learned that she was a wanderer, a natural husky trait. Eventually she learned how to escape from her enclosure when Mom started working part time, and get outside. She would run across the road to a small creek. The neighbors would find her, and bring her back. They’d be standing with her in our driveway when we got home. I remember Mom sitting on the bench at the end of the school day with Sapphire on several occasions after the dog escaped. They were waiting to take us home so we wouldn’t have to ride the bus. We tried getting Sapphire a crate. She chewed her way out. Eventually, we had to chain her to chimney blocks to keep her from escaping. Though we still kept her on the porch for a while, eventually she became an outside dog. She liked the snow, though she was afraid of snowmen.
After moving to our newly built house at our current location, Sapphire remained an outside dog. She liked to lay in the bushes watching for strangers. If someone came, she didn’t know, she would get up, and slowly move towards them. On the other side of the coin, she would love when Mom came home every night after work. Sapphire would always come over to greet Mom.
In 1999, we got some more pets, two kittens and a Newfoundland puppy. Though smaller at first, Sapphire actually seemed afraid of Grizzly, who was full of energy as a puppy. We also made an interesting revelation about Sapphire. We were afraid of her hanging out with the cats. We were afraid she’d hurt them. There wasn’t a need to worry. Sapphire actually seemed to bond with our female cat, Alyssum!
Sapphire was an interesting dog. From being finicky with her food like a cat, to not chewing shoes she was certainly unique. She also made a variety of sounds for a dog, besides the dog’s trademark sound, the bark. She wasn’t always the best pet, but she was a great watchdog, and we loved her.
For those people who want to read more Tom’s Tidbits go to URL: www.tomstidbits.net.