S a m a n t i c shttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Samantics.html


by Tamara Somerville  

(aka:  “Gidget’s Mom”)  © 2013

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his 1835 tome, Democracy in America, that the U.S. is a nation of joiners.  A french-born historian, Tocqueville in his travels of the young nation concluded that for every cause, concern or interest around which individuals were prone to coalesce, some collection of Americans would formalize a group.  Millions of groups, big and small, have since formed. 

Turns out dogs and wolves are not the only creatures that like to run in packs.

The American inclination for group engagement also resulted in the formation of the American Kennel Club in 1884, the Samoyed Club of America in 1923 and the Potomac Valley Samoyed Club in 1966.    

My awareness of PVSC began in 2002, after my first Samoyed died at the age of 14, and I had begun looking for a Samoyed puppy.  A Google search brought me to the PVSC website, and I got to know a member who was a breeder.  But it was not until 2004, after a job change, cross-country drive and the second birthday of my new Samoyed (Gidget, from Colorado), that I went to my first PVSC meeting and filled out a membership application.

My motivations for joining PVSC were two-fold:  1) to support a group that supports the breed I had come to revere, and;  2) network within the Samoyed community so that in the future when I wanted another Samoyed it would be easier to find a puppy from a good breeder.  Membership costs just $20 a year for an individual so it was an easy decision to join.

Gidget, like her predecessor, was not a show dog.  I had little interest in dog shows (and even less knowledge of the sport) so did not expect the club to become a significant part of my life or Gidget’s.  And then I went to a meeting where PVSC member Wendy Friedlander talked about her certified therapy dog, a Samoyed named Samantha, who she was taking to visit patients at an area hospital.  She thought Gidget would be a great therapy dog, too.  So at Wendy’s behest I took Gidget to an orientation for certification and she subsequently became a therapy dog.  Witnessing her interactions with pediatric oncology and psych patients have been among the most profound experiences of my life.     

It was during an annual therapy dog event for the pediatric ward that I learned how strong was the bond between Samoyeds.  Gidget and I had arrived early and were in the atrium with a few other non-sammies when Gidget became very excited and about pulled me off my feet -- because she had spotted Samantha through a glass wall.  She never exhibited that degree of enthusiasm for non-sammies. 

My first Samoyed, Buck, had not been around sammies after she left her litter when she was a puppy.  I had no idea there was a breed bond.  And so I learned that PVSC is not just for me, it is for the dogs.          

Gidget and I then began joining group walks PVSC was doing on the C&O Canal in Maryland.  During these outings Gidget flirted shamelessly with sammy boys Mikey, Theo and others.  And she became accustomed to hanging with her new sammy pack.  Later on, if we went anywhere alone to hike I could see when we arrived that she looked around the parking lot expecting the rest of her sammy gang to appear.  She’s eleven years old now and still expects that, whenever we drive anywhere we’ve been with the club, her sammy friends will be there.  And many of them often are, as we rarely go for a hike anymore without first contacting club friends to see if anyone wants to join us. 

Buck (1988-2002) would have loved the sammy camaraderie that she never knew and which Gidget (born 2002) takes for granted. 

PVSC has provided a dog-centric community of friends and activities for Gidget and me.  With our PVSC friends we’ve camped and picnicked together, canoed, hiked and scootered and biked and laughed for countless hours as our sammies race up and down the beach, leap into pools, lakes and rivers and so many other great times.

PVSC has also been there for us in bad times.  When Gidget was stricken with gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat) at midnight while on vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, it was PVSC friends John and Brenda who rushed us to the closest 24/7 hospital (120 miles away) and stayed with me there through the night.  When Gidget was released a few days later, PVSC friends Karla and Jan drove down from DC to bring us home.  The entire story is related here

Whenever someone is dealing with the stress and despair of caring for an ailing dog or grieving for the loss of a beloved pet, PVSC members can be counted on to come forth with understanding and sympathy.     

PVSC has been there for a lot of people and pups when needed.  When we found out that thirty-three Samoyeds in Pennsylvania and Delaware who were seized in an animal abuse case needed veterinary care and new homes, PVSC members stepped up to help Mid-Atlantic Samoyed Rescue in their efforts.  PVSC members contributed thousands of dollars, helped with transports, volunteered to foster and even adopted some of the needy Samoyeds.  The account of that experience is here.  

There are countless instances of PVSC members dogsitting for one another, loaning gear from crates to leashes and whelping boxes.  Even more significant:  PVSC members share valuable information and experience that has saved dogs’ lives and helped many to have a better quality of life.  The benefit of this collective experience and wisdom is tremendous for dog owners.

PVSC also does dog shows, putting on spring and fall “specialties” (Samoyed-only) events that attract participants from throughout the east coast and Canada.  These events are a draw, not just for competitors in the ring, but also for an audience of people like me who simply are fans of the breed and enjoy seeing immaculately groomed Samoyeds running around the ring in evident enjoyment of the gathering.           

Gidget has had more opportunities for fun and I’ve become a better dogmom since joining PVSC.  And I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through the club and have been blessed with many great friends through membership.   

I joined PVSC for a couple practical reasons.  I stay in PVSC for many more. 

PVSC’s “Sammy Shindig 2012” on the Chesapeake Bay.