What dog?

        Tiny dogs, that all Sam was seeing lately, tiny designer dogs yipping and jumping on the end of ridiculously long thin leashes as their owners paid them little attention. When he was a kid Sam could remember lots of his neighbors and friends all up and down South Avenue having dogs, but none was smaller than a fire hydrant or stack of news papers, at least not after it was a puppy. Sam could never have a dog. He wanted one desperately and when he was about 5 or 6 went through a phase of asking his mom for one whenever he was asked a question himself.        “Sammy, would you like to have peas for dinner tonight, or broccoli?”         “I would like a dog mother, a brown dog.”         “Did you brush your teeth yet?”         “I want a dog with small teeth.”         It was a desperate ploy, more than Sam could have dreamed up on his own. He got the idea from one of the Saturday afternoon movies that he watched in the back room of the beauty parlor while his mom worked. In the movie a little girl—Sam thought one of the other characters had called her Sam and that’s what caught his attention away from coloring—desperately wanted her father back for christmas, and so started in on a similar campaign asking first every Santa Clause bell ringer she and her mother passed, and then eventually every bearded man.         The film played the whole incident up as sweet an endearing. Sam was too young to get the full effect at the time, but he was old enough to recognize the formula. The camera at eye level with the girl, the charming laughs and knowing smiles elicited from the Santas as they gave the girl’s mother a heartfelt look, and of course the music—soaring violins and warm horns.         Sam couldn’t wait to try this new method out, but for some reason things just didn’t seem right. The first time he tried it was right after his mother’s shift. She swept up the spent hair from around her station and then came into the back to get her purse from the row of lockers along the back wall.         “All done pumpkin. You ready to go?”         “I’m ready to get a dog mommy. A brown dog like Greg has.”         Several of the other hair dressers were in the room, also collecting their things, and like a wave Sam could see that same look he had seen in the movie wash over their faces. “Aww”, they all laughed, and Sam couldn’t hold back his smile. But somehow his mother had missed the wave. At first he though she hadn’t heard him. He tried again.         “Do you have all your things?”         “I don’t have a dog mom.”         Again the “Aww” from around the room, but this time with a little less feeling. There was no doubt she had heard it this time, but nothing registered on her face. Sam looked up at her expectantly, consciously trying to increase the level of wonder in his face but probably, he knew, affecting something more like queasiness or the look of someone about to sneeze. After a long silence his mother finally rolled her eyes and spoke.         “You know we can’t get a dog, you’re allergic. Remember when we went to visit grandma and grandpa on their farm in Vermont. All you had to do was pet their sheepdog for 5 minutes and you were sneezing and coughing and your hand got all red and puffy.”         “Yeah, but that won’t happen this time mom.”         “Oh yeah, and hows that?”         “Becuase I’m older now and I grew out of it.” It was the best he could come up with. Strangely it hadn’t occurred to him that he would have to defend his position. Surely the overwhelming power of his wonderment and the soaring violins would take care of that.         Sam was smart enough to see that the plan wasn’t working, but with little else in his bag of tricks, he stuck with it for the next few days.         “Sam, did you wash your hands, it’s time for dinner.”         “If I had a dog I could wash his hands before dinner.”