Good-bye Sam the Dog

This is not the entry I had planned for today. I’ll write about the conference and other good news tomorrow. Know that while this is a sad entry, there is much joy in my life. As we ride the roller coaster of life we never really know or control what is around the next bend.

It is with deep sadness and regret that I tell you, we had to put our dog Sam to sleep today.

Sam was probably 10 or 11 years old, and his dark blue black fur was almost completely gray at his muzzle and on his belly. Over the last six months he had grown thin loosing 30 pounds. Where once he was meaty and muscley, today he was only skin and bones. In the last 24 hours he lost control of his bowels entirely and I knew it was time. I will miss his loyalty, company, and protection.

We brought Sam home from the Edgecomb shelter in September of 1998. Already two or three years old, Sam had his share of issues. He ran off, he got into garbage, he tried to sleep on the couch at night, he was the worst mooch at the dinner table and he stole food from the counters when you turned your back on him. But Sammy loved to swim and fetch and get a good belly rub. Scratch him on his bum just above the tail, around the ears or under his front legs, and he’d be your buddy forever.

He loved cold weather, so our home in Maine was perfect for him. He’d explore the snowy landscape as I cross- country skiied nearby. This always made me think of an abstract painting that I hope to create someday– “Black dog in the snow.” It will be a black smudge on an otherwise white canvas. “Snow doggy!” I’d yell, and he’d leap through the snow, bounding over drifts. I threw snowballs that he caught and munched. He rolled over on his back and wiggled side to side taking a snow bath. Then he’d jump up and look where he’d been. It seemed that these were his doggy snow angels. 

Sam had a super sniffer. He could snif out mice, garbage and food anywhere. If something tempted Sammy’s nose, whether it was under snow, in the ground, buried in the woodpile, or in the rafters, he’d root, dig, and climb to get it. 

Sam inspired my art and writing. In “Watch that tail Sammy,” I wrote about his whacking, smacking tail that swung right at toddler eye level. Sam was great with our boys and other children who could get past the fact that he was an 80 pound big, black dog. I’ll never forget the image of Sam lying under the basinet guarding I. when we brought him home from the hospital nine years ago. 

Sam had a special relationship with my father. Whenever Dad visited, Sam stuck close to him. Sam nuzzled Dad, putting his nose on my father’s lap and pushing his hand to the top of that doggy head. My father in turn scratched and pat Sam around the scruff of the neck and around his ears. The two old men seemed to appreciate an afternoon nap in the sun and each other. 

Good-bye Sam.  

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