In Memory of Sammie 07-06

Our Sammie is gone.  We always called him our special child.  But Sam was as smart as the next dog.  The reason he hesitated to do things and didn’t do what we expected was simply because he was so timid.  That was obvious when he came to our house.  It all started because of bitterly cold Nebraska weather.  It seemed cruel to make Sammie (then called Rodney) spend any more nights in the outdoor kennel at the shelter.  So I made the decision to get him before the transport to GRRIN was scheduled.  That was my undoing.

When I went to pick him up, he bounced straight up and down like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh.   You had to smile when you saw it.  Once we finally got him in the house, he was afraid of everything—floors, air from the furnace, fans.  He cowered around and it was quite a while before we saw him stand up.

That first night, all he wanted was to be close to Charlie.  But Charlie didn’t want to be close to Sam.  I ended up sleeping on the floor with a dog on each side of me, close enough for Sam and far enough for Charlie.  After that, Sam always got his direction from Charlie.  When we lost Charlie, Sam was at a loss.  But he soon learned that it was O.K. to be the only dog in the house.

He absolutely hated baths.  The last bath he had, Bill picked him up (not easy with an 80-pound dog) and carried him into the bathroom.  I’ll never forget the sight of Sam digging his claws into the door frame as if this was his last reprieve before execution.  We were all tired after Sam’s baths.

Besides Charlie, Sam’s special friend was Buttercup the cat.  Buttercup loved to be next to Sam and feel his warmth.  In some way, I think she thought of him as her baby.  She licked him and groomed him.  But she also kneaded her paws on him.  Sam just sat through it all, or more accurately, usually went to sleep while she was doing it.  That always infuriated Bill who thought that Sam shouldn’t stand for the indignity.

His absolute, most favorite thing to do was to cuddle with someone on the floor and all our grandchildren were happy to oblige.  Most of the pictures we have of Sam are with a grandchild laying their head on Sam and relaxing.  As long as he was being touched, he was happy.

Bill worked the night shift for many years and Sam was great company for me during those long nights.  Thankfully, Bill isn’t working that shift any more.  I don’t think I would be able to face the night without my friend.

Now I miss the dog with the ears who could hear you opening something in the kitchen even when you tried to be as quiet as possible and you knew he was sound asleep.  I miss the dog who would come to lay beside me and be stroked whenever I would lay down to relax on the couch.  I miss telling Sam that it’s time for bed and having to wait while he gets his drink and follows me into the bedroom.  I miss the scratching as he tries to get the pillow just right and the grunt as he lays down.  I miss hearing him get up in the middle of the night to get another drink and then go lay down on the wood floor that was cooler.  I miss him greeting me at the door when I come home.  I miss sharing my popcorn with him.  I miss him following me around the house and laying in the kitchen while I work.  I miss him planting himself in the hallway near the treadmill while I exercise.  I even miss his panting and his bad breath.  As with most dogs (and humans), there were things about Sam that annoyed me (like his staring at me, waiting to be petted when I’d already petted him long enough and thought we were done).  Of course, as he looked at me, he got another stroke or two, so I guess his strategy worked.

As my daughter says, the silence is deafening right now.  I haven’t been alone for 16 years and I don’t like it.  It is amazing what a comfort he was to me, even if he was sleeping in another part of the house.  Once again, I feel the heartache.  Once again, I’m thankful that I’m mourning a dog instead of a human member of my family.  Once again, I’m willing to pay the high price for the 10 years of love that preceded it.  Once again, I’m grateful to God for giving me such a good companion to share life with.  When we named Sam, we thought of Frodo’s good and faithful companion.  Sam proved to be just that and I miss him.

To read Sam’s original adoption story, click here.