Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ode to Sam

I initially posted this back in January and am re-posting it today to honor our sweet furry family member, Sam, for one last time.  Last Wednesday night, Sam began having severe seizures all through the night.  By the following morning he couldn't even walk and we had to make the decision to let him go.  We are absolutely heartbroken.  He was 13 years old and he was a loving, sweet and loyal member of our family.  We love you Sam!!
 

You feed me when I'm hungry,
You keep water in my dish,
You let me sleep on anything,
Or in any place I wish.

You sometimes let me lick your hands,
Or even lick your face,
Despite the fact I've licked myself
In every private place.

You taught me how to come when called,
You taught me how to sit,
You always let me go outside
So I can take a ...........stroll.

I've been with you through oh, so much,
Through laughter and through tears,
I hope you live to be a hundred......
(that's 700 in doggy years!).

Author Unknown 

Yesterday morning.  
"Wo-of!"  Sam's low, hoarse bark begging to be let out.  It's early.  Like, dark early.  I stumble blindly to the door kicking legos, pull-ups, matchbox cars and pillow pets (damn you, gremlin-like spawning pillow pets!) out of my way.  

As I reach the door, squish!  I step, no, I should say I gave my foot a bath, in dog vomit.  Blah!!  The dog has thrown up...again.  In his defense, at least this time he aimed and succeeded at vomiting on the tile instead of the carpet.  Score for Sam! 

This February, Sam will be 13 years old.  Just to impress you with my quick thinking math abilities, that's 91 in dog years.  Sam is 100% purebred mutt.  If he were a wine, he'd be a 2 Buck Chuck - blended from unidentified and really cheap grapes but in the end just what you want.  

Eleven years ago as a starry-eyed newly wed, I went to the shelter to"just look" at the available dogs.  Now, Max did not grow up with animals in his home, while my house was a revolving door for dogs, cats, parakeets, fish, rabbits, hamsters and turtles.  We had been living in our newly purchased home for just a few months and it felt empty.  Homes come with dogs, right?  Well this one didn't and I needed to fix that.  So, while I had no intention of adopting a dog without my beloved husband's knowledge and input, I figured it really couldn't hurt to "just look."

Here's the problem.

I'm a ridiculous softy when it comes to homeless, lost, and/or abandoned animals.  It quite literally breaks my heart.  If I see an animal far from home I will stop at nothing to ensure its safe return to the loving family who is most certainly torn apart by the absence of their beloved pet.  Unfortunately, this has led me to once (possibly twice) save a dog from its own front yard.  In my defense, it was very heavily wooded and the dog kept following me.     

Thorns may hurt you, men desert you, sunlight turn to fog;
but you're never friendless ever, if you have a dog.

Douglas Mallock 


That day at the shelter, I wondered around reading the descriptions of Buddy, Toby, Rover and Fido.  Each description assured me that this was the dog for me.  I was trying hard not to make eye contact with any of the dogs for fear that I would 
        1.) begin to sob uncontrollably and then be admitted myself 
        2.) adopt every dog in sight and live the rest of my life alone while I 
             bitterly morphed into Cruella De ville 
        3.) actually have to make a CHOICE as to which dog I wanted to bring         
             home thereby sentencing the rest of the dogs to premature death

Somehow, I met just one pup's eyes.  Sam.  And that was it.  I looked at him and he looked at me with these big, brown, gentle eyes.  His description said, "loving dog, family couldn't keep him, needs good home."  This was our dog. 

I talk to him when I'm lonesome like;
And I'm sure he understands.

When he looks at me so attentively,

And gently licks my hands;

Then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes,

But I never say naught thereat.

For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes,

But never a friend like that. 

W. Dayton Wedgefarth 

I did not bring Sam home that day.  Instead, I called Max and told him to stop by the shelter on his way home from the airport the next morning.  "Check out Sam, and see what you think."  Around 1 PM that day my phone rings at work.  It's Max.  He's in the lobby.  He has the dog.  

I run down the stairs and out to the parking lot to our car.  There is Max.  He's pale.  Kinda sweating.  And looking really annoyed.  He tells me that when I told him to "take a look at the dog" what I really meant was "adopt the dog immediately".  (He's not wrong.)  Unfortunately, as soon as Max starts the car and drives away from the shelter...Sam throws up...in the car...a lot. 

Since that day, Sam has been far from a perfect dog.  He has had accidents in the house, vomited more times then we can count, chewed gates, molding, and doors to pieces, and cost us large amounts of money in his health care and Motel 6 hotel bills.  There was even the time he dragged me down the side of a mountain and into our friend's hot tub in pursuit of a squirrel.  But none of that matters.

The dog barks backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.
Robert Frost

Sam is family.  He has watched us as we have navigated through the "what the hells" of pregnancy, newborns, and sleep deprivation.  He has been there when the kids were sick in the middle of the night.  He's gone for walks with me and the stroller skillfully avoiding tail entanglement with the wheels.  He has been nothing but our faithful companion during our childbearing years when, with the birth of each child, he gracefully took a step back.

So, yesterday morning.

My foot. Sam's vomit. Max silently cleans it up. We turn to Sam who looks at us with those gentle, brown eyes.  He's skinny these days.  It takes him a few attempts to get up from his pillow.  He moves slow, careful, like he navigates each step.  We go to him.  Pet his head, rub his ears.  Tell him he's a good boy.  And hope we have given him as much as he has so unselfishly given us.




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7 comments:

  1. I cried the first time I read this, but this time the tears are flowing in an entirely different way. Put so perfectly about such a sweetheart pup. Sam, you will be missed!

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  2. oh miss, i'm so sorry to hear this. I truly didn't realize Sam was already 13. So sad for you guys. I always loved seeing Sam on our visits. I'm sure this is a hard time for you all. May you always laugh at the memories and know how lucky you were to have a companion like that. You made his life so great as he did yours. He was a damn lucky dog. Love to you guys.

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  3. As a fellow dog lover, I feel your pain. They are little family members and I'm feeling your loss. Our 2 dogs are 7 and 2 right now and I know the day will come to say goodbye. I'm dreading it. Loved the poem.

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  4. So sorry to hear the news Missy! You guys did one of the hardest things in the world, yet the best thing for Sam. He was the best!

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  5. Awww, so sorry for your loss. I don't remember a time I didn't have a dog... they are such a huge part of our lives now even! We get super attached and I think Sam was so blessed to have you as a family!!! Sending you hugs!!! Now, off to wipe my tears for sweet Sam.

    Muah! Kel

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about sweet Sam and the ode is so perfect. He was so lucky to have such wonderful family and I love that you put up the extra big pictures for him.

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  7. So sorry for your loss... always sad to lose a member of the family. :_( I can totally see why you wanted him! He was SO handsome! You guys saved him and he had the best life w/ a pretty awesome family. BIG hugs!!!!!!!

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