Thursday, September 9 in 1993 was a hot and uncomfortable day. It was also another significant day in Max’s life, although we did not find out why until years later. We set off for our morning walk as usual, dropping Katie at school, then continuing on to Edna’s house. Edna was dog-sitting Misty, so Max set off for the woods in a happy frame of mind, leading his pack, and leaving it to Brandy to keep Misty in line. The trails of the George Derby Woods provided a welcome retreat from the sun, but it was still very warm, and by the time we were close to the end of our route, the dogs were feeling the heat. When we reached the bridge near the end of the trail, they loped down to the creek to paddle and have a drink. Edna and I leaned on the railing and watched the dogs cooling off in the deep pool that always formed at the side of the stream.
Suddenly I sensed eyes on me and I glanced up. There was Max, staring at me from the other side of the bridge. I blinked, did a double take, and then looked back down to the creek. No, Max was still there, lying in his favourite puddle. I looked up again. The duplicate Max remained at the edge of the bridge, warily eying me back. I looked more closely and saw that, alike as they were, the second Max was a fraction smaller and its fur looked a little softer. The Max clone also had a very sweet expression. It was a female. As I continued to admire the newcomer, a couple arrived at the bridge and informed me that their dog was called Samantha. When Max heard the voices, he came bounding up to see what was going on. He seemed delighted to meet his lookalike, and she in turn appeared to like him. So from that moment on, Samantha was added to Max’s entourage of lady friends, along with Brandy, Neisha, Misty and Kelsey.
Over the years, Max met Sam on many occasions. We noticed that he tended to bully her, for she was very sweet but rather timid. Sam’s owners were charming people. We never knew them by name. Like the other dog walkers, they were known as Sam’s Mum and Dad, just as they labelled us by Max and Brandy’s names, and they never stopped to chat for long since they were out for their morning exercise. Therefore, Max and Sam would greet each other, have a brief interchange, and then move on. However, many years after their first meeting, when both dogs were getting old, tragedy struck Sam’s owners. The husband in this lovely couple was killed in a car crash in the Fraser Canyon.
A couple of weeks after we heard the sad news, Edna and I met the wife when she was out taking Sam for her walk. We stopped to commiserate, and from that point on, whenever we saw Sam and her owner, we always talked for a while. The dogs, being less rambunctious now, would mosey around the side of the trails, and sometimes, flop down and lay side-by-side like three elderly friends enjoying the air outside the rest home. One day, we were laughing about our first sighting of Sam, and how I’d confused her with Max. We commented on the interesting fact that the champagne tone in their fur had deepened and acquired an almost orange tinge as they grew older, so that the resemblance that had been there in their youth had continued on into old age. Sam’s owner told us what an adorable fluffy puppy Sam had been and related how she and her husband had adopted Sam from the New Westminster pound in 1992. “That’s a coincidence,” I said. “Max’s first family got him from the New West pound too.”
Suddenly, the light went on. I asked what month Sam had been born, knowing instinctively that the answer would be September, for Max had been four months old when we adopted him at the start of February in 1993. Edna tuned in right away too. She and I stared at each other in amazement. We looked back at Max and Sam, companionably flopped at the side of the path, brother and sister sitting harmoniously together. What dummies we felt. It had taken us their entire lifetimes to figure it out.
From that moment on, Sam became Sister Sam, and we chuckled as we remembered Max’s early bullying. He was merely being a typical older brother. Sadly, Sam developed cancer only a few months after we had realized they were from the same litter, and she died the following year; however, we were always glad to know that Max, the problem dog who might not have made it past puppydom, not only had a lifelong friend in Brandy, but also, throughout his lifetime, remained in contact with his sister. For a dog with an attitude, he was certainly blessed with a lot of special relationships.
Next: Rebel Without a Cause.