Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind words in comments and e-mails. I didn’t think it would help, but it does. Tears welled up, and didn’t stop flowing, while reading them. I’ve never lost anyone so dear to my heart before, for which I’m grateful.
We had dogs before, and I cried over their loss. I loved them, as I do love Biko, but Sam was different. I had a special bond with him. From the first time I saw him.
He was one of two boys in a litter of four pups. We did not have first pick, but during our visits at the breeders, I knew I wanted him. I was relieved when the breeder told me, I’ve got my wish. I don’t know how, and why, but we formed a special bond right from the beginning.
I have to go back even further. My son worked on a horse farm on weekends and on school breaks. We both took riding lessons their. They had three dogs, and David loved them so much, that we decided to get our own dog. It took us six month to find a breed we wanted. The farm dogs had names starting with the letter “B” (Bella, Bailey and Bandit), so David picked “Biko”. She was very much his dog from the beginning (I was and am just her servant). I wanted a dog of my own and we fell in love with these beautiful White Shepherds. I had dreams of a dog on my side called “Sam”, it was not a White Shepherd, I think it was a mix of Golden Retriever and Labrador in my dreams. Anyway, six month later we welcomed Samson into our lives.
One day we brought Sam along to the horse farm for a picnic, I let him run around free; he was not quite three month old. He never ventured far from me, but once he was under a table somewhere (I could still see him) and I was going to the car. I called out, “Sam, come!”, and people laughed and said to me, that with this age, they don’t listen to that. Well he proved them wrong, because sure enough he turned and came bustling over as quickly as he could. I was very proud of him.
He was always sensitive to loud noises, and exited talking. He was like a barometer for your mood and level of excitement. You sure couldn’t get too excited around him. He was afraid of thunderstorms, and fire works, and bubble gum exploding in your face (I did that once with him by my side, after his reaction I never chewed bubble gum again.)
One of our Vets once said, “He’s got all the personality, none of the legs.” He really was a gentle character.
I have sweet and funny memories of him, and hundreds of pictures. Over the last two days I looked through all of them. Remembering they cheered me up and made me laugh, then cry.
One thing of many, I loved about him was, when he saw me getting ready to go out, he always wanted to know if he could come too, or what was going on. Since as great as he was, he could not speak, he tried to get eye contact, even if it meant to dance around me for me to notice. Once I got it, I looked at him, he had his eyes on mine, his head slightly tilted, and I told him either yes, he could come too, or no he had to stay home. The first brought forth a yapping dervish, the later a good doggy, who walked to his bed in the kitchen, where he stayed napping until my return.
The first time we went to the Vet with him he said, this little guy will be in trouble because of his outward pointing paws. It looked cute, but it would be painful for him in the future. Sam had to endure seven surgeries during his life. It started with neutering, which was not as simple as it should have been, since only one testicle was descended and they had to look for the other one. Next were his two elbows, followed by both his knees, one even twice, since about two weeks after the surgery something happened to the knee again. And as if that wasn’t enough, he almost lost a toe during playing outside. All this pressed into the seven years of his life. Poor Sam didn't quite make it to his 7th birthday on May 30th.
He had severe arthritis in his elbows and knees. We managed with medication for a while. Last Friday we went to see the Vet, and he thought it was time for Sam, but I was not ready. Sam was still running around, playing outside with his ball, playing tuck-of-war with me, chasing chipmunks (as if he ever had a chance), but he was moving on his own!
Only a few days after the visit to the Vet, Sam was enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine out in the backyard, playing his own little game with me, were he comes up to me, barks and looks back at his Jollyball at the other side of the pool. He would bark at me as long as it takes to get me going, in a mock race to get to the ball first. Of course I let him win all the time. He used to do that several times, but on that day, once was enough for him.
That evening when it was time to go outside to pee, he had much trouble getting up on his feet, and he was wobbly and very stiff. We helped him with the steps, and thought he just overdid it during the day.
To give him rest, my son carried him up and down the stairs as often as Sam needed to go outside to pee. The next morning, it was apparent that he had not improved at all, if anything it was worse. He could barely stand while peeing. That’s when I knew it was time to let him go. I was going to call the Vet the next morning. That day and during the night we sat with him, giving him as much water as he wanted, carrying him outside to pee (he weight 100lbs). I was still hoping that he would be his normal self again in the morning, so I could hold off on the call. We did not sleep much; he never changed places, which both dogs normally do during the night.
In the morning when David was picking him up, Sam yelped for the first time in pain. He only peed once that morning. I called the Vet’s office early, to get him to call back as soon as he could. I was not able to talk to him on the phone once he did, I cried too much. My son made the arrangements.
We sat with him until it was time to go. With a blanket we managed to carry him to the car. He was actually very happy to go for a car ride. He was alert, loving the treats we gave him, but also calm, not as hyper excited as usual.
At the Vets they had prepared a room for us. Seeing their sympathy in the staff’s faces, made me cry real hard, they even hugged me. I had no recollection of that, later my son told me they did (that’s weird, huh?).
I wanted to be with Sam to his last breath. The Vet explained to us what he would do, and what would happen. While he was preparing for what he needed, kneeling beside Sam, my Son on the other side to assist him, I was in front of Sam. He caught my eyes, held eye contact for so long, and he was calm (usually he was yapping bloody murder while being there). I think he knew what was coming, and he was alright with it.
Sam was more than just a pet to me; he was my friend, my companion, a family member. I miss him terrible. I keep having moments where I think, we’ve got to pick up Sam from the Vet’s. Or walking through the house, I think there’s something missing, something out of balance, until it hits me – Sam’s missing. Than I had a moment, where I realized I will never touch him again, never scratch his bum, cut his nails, feed him, and hear his yapping, smell his doggy breath. I will never be able to look into his eyes anymore, and the tears won’t stop flowing.
Sam, my sweet boy, you were my “once in a lifetime” dog, I will never forget you!
And Biko? She always was an independent dog, but I noticed her following me around more. But there is a good thing, if you can believe it. We can do more now with only Biko left, since we don't have to worry about Sam being stuck at home alone. She's enjoying more car rides, more walks, longer walks.
Thank you all for your sympathy! I promise there will be knitting content on this blog again soon! I started knitting socks while sitting with Sam during his last two days. I will finishe them, even though right now, I don't want to look at them.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend.