The Power of the Ugliest Dog
Sam turned the tables and taught us some new tricks
Who would have thought that a scary, purebred Chinese
wonder could have taught us some new lessons all the while unleashing
a fury of emotions in us ranging from outright disgust and revulsion
to fawning admiration and devotion? Usually, it is us humans that
teach dogs new tricks, but Sam, the ugliest dog in the world, nay, the
universe, turned the tables on us and showed us a thing or two.
For instance, Sam showed us the meaning of true love. His
Susie Lockheed, cuddled and even slept with Sam, and thereby revealed
a blind love between a canine and its owner, even though Sam was quite
frightening to look at, sort of like a horrible accident scene that
traffic crawls past. You don't want to look, but find yourself peeking
anyway no matter how hard you try not to, yellow tarps and all.
Peering at Sam could often be trying.
The unbridled love that
Lockheed possessed for Sam was never more
evident than at the end of Sam's life. (Some may think, that after
looking at the picture of Lockheed and Sam under the bed covers, that
there's no better example of unbridled love.) He was Lockheed's meal
ticket and claim-check to fame, but in his final days, when he
suffered from painful heart problems, Lockheed sadly but without the
slightest hesitation had her veterinarian euthanize him. Everyone
knows that when you love someone, even the world's ugliest dog who was
referred to as "un-adoptable" by an animal shelter, you can't bear to
watch him or her suffer. Sam passed away on Friday, November 18, and
news of his demise spread rapidly like fleas. Lockheed received email
condolences from around the world, an outpouring of love that
continues to this day. Now that he is gone, he is greatly missed.
Sam gave us more than a lesson in blind, true love that's not
bark and no bite -- he proved that beauty really is only skin deep,
and that unconditional love truly does exist. He was surely so ugly,
but he threw us a bone, his putrefied vision as an altar of something
bright and comical and amusing to discuss amongst ourselves, something
other than our constant tragedy de jour and sky-is-falling
Yes, Sam collared us with his visage
and taught us that there is so
much more to our world than exit-strategies, market fluctuations,
gasoline prices, commute and overpopulation-related issues, ad
nauseam. Sometimes we forget to step back from our daily moil of
social toil and look at the simple, lighter, humorous things in life.
Sam, a beacon of hope for a funnier tomorrow with treats for everyone,
the dog who upon his death could garner national media coverage that
included every major newspaper and television network, and purportedly
received six-million hits in one day on his website, taught us about
"perspective." Do you think he showed the world that a scruffy, mangy,
pathetic-looking creature could in fact be the recipient of all our
attention and affection merely because he was the most
unpleasant-looking thing we've ever seen?
How could you not laugh
out loud by looking at his "Darth Sam" get-up
at samugliestdog.com? Sam is the James Dean of the dog world,
acquiring a certain stature of greatness after his death. Want proof:
Look for Sam coffee mugs, shirts and calendars coming your way soon.
You may even get a Sam-something for Christmas and feel his bite.
If Walt Whitman were alive today, he would probably pen a few
of doggerel verse in Sam's honor. That's because "Sam" has become a
cult, a breath of fresh air in our current hate-filled dogmatic
atmosphere. Sam is the patron saint of all of those who are ugly and
not fetching, and who yet, through dumbfounded luck or happenstance
and a glint in their one eye, are still capable of making a splash in
(Robert Ward is a well known free-lance writer for such major newspapers as The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle.)