Bissy, Fred, and the Great Samboni. One boomer’s love story

Baby boomers’ values change as we navigate our ways through life … and around dog poop. Pretty strange intro, huh? If you want to know why, just take a look at this lovely love story from BoomerCafé contributor Alan J. Paul from Hawthorne, New Jersey. He calls it, “Bissy, Fred, and the Great Samboni.”

Whoever said that “a dog is a man’s best friend” deserves one of those bacon-flavored dog treats called Beggin’ Strips. A whole one. Our cockapoo, Sam, outside of my wife Jan … maybe … is my bestie (my bestie beastie?).

But I didn’t always feel this way about dogs. I liked them well enough, but could — and generally have — lived without them. In the past, I considered dogs in the same manner some people seem to consider their grandchildren: while you may love them like crazy and greatly enjoy their company, it’s a major bonus that they live in somebody else’s house.

Alan Paul and family.

Alan Paul and family.

When my own daughter was around five or six, she and my wife conspired against me to dogify our family. Many heated discussions ensued over their proposal, but we were soon besieged by Biscuit, a Tibetan terrier who came down from the Himalayas for the sole purpose of tormenting me. Bissy, as we called her, wasn’t a bad dog, she just had no use for human beings, except at feeding time. She never actually bit the hand that fed her; she well knew that it was much more effective to simply ignore us. Which she did, most of the time.

My wife and daughter decided that the problem with Bissy was that she was lonely. So we soon had Tibetan terrier #2, Fred, in our home. Fred was actually a pretty good dog; much more friendly and welcoming of our advances. The problem with Fred was that he was as neurotic as Freud and prone to relieving himself whenever and wherever the impulse presented itself.

Sadly (yes, in spite of myself, I was sad), both dogs passed before their time. Fred’s passing came when our daughter Carolyn was away at college and — crazy me — I insisted that we quickly get another dog so that she wouldn’t come back to a house bereft of canine influence. So we acquired the cockapoo which we named Sam.


Sam the dog

I’m not sure why, but Sam’s care became my responsibility from the get-go. And I embraced it wholeheartedly, the reason being, I would give this dog-thing one last chance before giving up on the whole canine companions scenario for the rest of my miserable life. But you know what? I was hugely rewarded for my efforts. Sam, to paraphrase Dickens, became “as good a dog as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

I’ve spoiled The Great Samboni with love, because love is what he demands, and it is what he gives freely and unconditionally. Now that I’m retired and around the house most of the day, he demands virtually constant attention. Is it annoying at times? Yes it is. But one of the things that I’ve learned after three-score-and-seven years of life is this: occasionally being annoyed by an abundance of love is a condition that everyone on this good earth should be fortunate enough to experience.

Clearly, the adage, “a dog is a man’s best friend,” is true. You just have to find the right dog.


  1. Great story, when my German Shep had to be put down due of kidney failure,age 14,my vet let me borrow the book called cold noses at the pearly gate, quit popular
    Hardback, get it, a lot of oldtestament bible scriptures about us seeing our pets again

    1. Great vet gave me a book called cold noses at the pearly gate, quite popular book, amazing facts we will see our pets again……get the book, this beats
      Out all the other books.

  2. I loved the story. It was perfect for this Thanksgiving week, as we should be grateful for all of our companions, whether two-footed or four-footed. We had a wonderful dog Paris for 13 years. Last year we drove to a USC football game; we left the dog in the care of a young adolescent girl from across the street; and we were called at the game as our dog had apparently drowned in our pool, even though Paris could swim. Poor girl jumped into the pool, pulled Paris to the concrete, and tried CPR. The girl was another dog lover. But losses remind us to focus on what we have. So, enjoy Sam every single day. You are so right. We all need a bit of that love in our life. And we miss it terrible when it is gone.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, William. The Beatles said “all you need is love,” and the older I get, the more truth I find in that statement.

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