I was a "surprise"-- The youngest of six children by twelve years. The story goes that on a family vacation my parents stopped at a rest stop that they later came to refer to as "the famous spot" near Watertown, NY.
"There's going to be a new addition to the family." My mother announced to my siblings sitting around a picnic table.
"WE'RE GETTING A NEW DOG!" they all chimed in.
"No, we're having another baby."
Now, in hindsight I can't even begin to imagine the shock some of them experienced. My parents were, after all, in their early forties. And since the youngest, Bryan, was already twelve-- everyone had just kind of assumed that they were done.
To my parents credit however, in light of the excitement over the prospect of a new dog, opted to get yet ANOTHER addition for the family shortly before my arrival.
His whole life, my father had owned a series of female Airedale terriers, from his childhood right up through the "Dachshund Debacle" (one of the neighbors had a male Dachshund who was somehow smart enough to figure out the mechanics of mating with a much larger female Airedale spawning a litter of rather unusual looking puppies) a few years before my birth.
I'm not sure whether it was the Dachshund Debacle that prompted it, or just a momentary lapse of reason on my father's part-- but my parents opted to try a male Airedale this time around. And thus Sam was introduced into the family.
It didn't take long for my father to realize why he'd always been cautioned against the male Airedales. Male Airedales are generally larger than females, and in Sam's case at least, dumber than a box of rocks. Try as they may, and did they ever try, they could not train that dog. My brother, Kevin, even took him to obedience school. Kevin came home very well trained, but Sam... well, not so much.
Sometime around my fourth birthday my brother, Bryan, had developed allergies and my parents had to get rid of Sam. So they put out an ad and Sam was purchased by a kind and loving older couple.
Several years later, the story goes that Sam died of a heart attack. According to my brother, Bryan, Sam had experienced his heart attack "in flagrante delicto" if you get my drift... Whether or not there's truth to the tale or just my brother's fanciful imagination remains a mystery but it did make for quite an interesting closing chapter on Sam's life.