Vol. 13


Sammy’s Rough Road Trip

1966; Lompoc, California, USA"Sammys Rough Road Trip" illustration, by Janessa Hoffman: A happy dog, with his tongue hanging out, stands in front of a camper trailer.

Dogs are odd. Some love the car, and some get sick just seeing it. No matter what dog, they all hate one thing — being alone.

It was spring in 1966 on Vandenberg Air Force Base. Lucius and Ginny Draper, my grandparents, had bought a camper trailer for their trip to Massachusetts that summer. They wanted to test the camper, so they planned to go on a weekend camping trip with their three kids and their two dogs.

With some hassle, Ginny and Lucius herded almost-three-year-old Sandra, five-and-a-half-year-old David, and eight-year-old Bruce into their sedan. Sammy, their twenty-five-pound mostly black mutt, would travel in the camper. Feller, their four-month-old not-quite-trustworthy puppy, would ride in the car. They started driving down the road.

After about an hour, they checked on Sammy, who was fast asleep. Bruce, David, and Sandra, who were antsy from being in the car, woke Sammy up, which proved to be an awful mistake. After ensuring Sammy was comfortable, the Drapers got back in the car and started driving again. Sammy saw his people in his car, driving away. He wanted to go, too. He scratched at the curtains. He wanted to catch his people. He scratched harder at the door. It opened, swinging in the breeze. Sammy jumped.

In the car, everything was going smoothly. They were almost at the crest of a hill on a two-lane road. A couple passed them. On a two-lane road, this is a crazy time to pass, because a car could come over the hill and BAM! — there would be an accident. The lady in the car yelled out her window as they drove by, “Your dog fell out of the trailer!” Ginny pressed the brakes after confirming with Lucius that the lady had really said their dog fell out of the camper. Ginny swerved onto the side of the road, and Lucius got out of the car.

The camper door was shut, but the camper was empty. Lucius disappeared into the dust. Ten suspenseful minutes later, he came back, clutching Sammy to his chest. Sammy’s paws were scraped, his nose was pink and bleeding badly, and he was missing a couple of teeth. Lucius and Sammy got back in the car, with everyone rejoicing that Sammy was alive. The family drove to the vet to fix up their beloved pet.

Sammy’s scrapes and nose healed. He made many more trips with his family in the trailer, but he never went inside the trailer unless his people were already inside. And he was never the last to leave.

Did Sammy jump because he thought he was being left behind? Maybe he was simply lonely. Whatever the reason, my family is grateful for the lady who risked her life to tell them Sammy was gone. Without her, Sammy could have died on the road, or starved to death.

If it is possible, help others.


Isabel Draper; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: Janessa Hoffmann; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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