More than ten years of memories fall effortlessly out of the sky like heavy rain drops. They cover me as I look up, face first with arms wide open taking them all in again. I am utterly soaked in a vast pool of emotions that swing wildly; thankful, grateful, relieved, wretchedly sad, devastated, broken hearted. I wonder if I will ever dry out.
Oh, how we prepare for the day we know is coming. I try on feelings often, spin them up like a lottery ball machine and pull them out one by one. Touch them, taste the tears, as I study at the inevitability of all of it and practice the sadness from time to time so that maybe the real day will feel like another day at the batting cages. In truth, the motions feel familiar, but the reality of the loss is a weight you cannot really prepare for. And it drags me down like a stone around my ankle, desperately searching for new breath that won’t come fast enough.
I remember vividly the day I met you. It was pouring down rain one afternoon in Auburn, AL and I was curious about an email I got advertising a 2 year old male Golden Retriever who had been relinquished at a nearby vet. The rain should have kept me in, as it was the kind of rain that only the most pressing of errands could rouse you from the house. The reality of a three bedroom top floor apartment that I shared with two other girls should have kept me in. The fact that I worked a part time job making 5.45 an hour should have kept me in. But I thought to myself “I’ll just go and see”…so I got in my car and drove into your life and we have been together ever since; that was February 2006.
I remember the following days of introducing you to Jackson and Rob and how Rob and I spent several hours trying to name you. Your name was already “Sam” but I thought surely there was something I could come up with that fit you better. If you start a new chapter in life, maybe you need a new, better name. We spitballed names over and over, back and forth. We would look at you, say a name, wait for a reaction. Nothing seemed to fit quite right. Finally, a lightbulb went off in my head and I exclaimed “Samson! That’s the perfect name, and we can call him Sam for short!” Bingo (was his name-oh). You and I were in love instantly.
I’ve recoiled a number of times at the idea of writing this eulogy, frankly because the thought of it seemed too large. How can I possibly capture my life spent with this dog inside of this text box? How can I comb through the thousands (literally) of pictures I have from our years together? Every ordinary moment with a dog is worthy of a picture, a story, a nod of some kind of recognition, so how would I ever do his story justice? It’s impossible, but I will try and share Sam the way he always was. Wiggly, Joyful, and Hilarious; This is Sam’s Highlight Reel in picture and video.
When I think of Sam, I think of Jackson! We adopted both of them within 3 months of each other and they grew to be inseparable. Life Partners. Ride or Dies. The Bromance to end all bromances. They lived, what I hope, was a wonderfully fulfilling life together and I know they will somehow find each other in the next one. This is only a fraction of the memories they made together.
About 7 years ago, they accepted a third dude into their wolf pack, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how easily Sneak (the cat) slipped into their squad. Sam and Sneak quickly assembled “Team Hungry” and their passion for eating meals together was only outmatched by their passion for napping together.
Sam, above everything, was loyal. His unwavering love for his people was true to his breed. His tail constantly wagged, and he always seemed to be smiling. He loved the warm sun, pets and pats, food, and water, of any kind.
Well, almost always smiling…
Sam loved: Me, Rob, Jackson, Sneak, Everyone he ever met, Rolling in dead bugs, treats, pooping on the off limits side of the yard, balls, furry toys, eating cat food, eating cat poop, eating cat barf, rolling in cat poop, barking because Jackson barked, drinking water, playing in water, swimming in water, mud, digging in the rock beds, digging in the carpet, looking for the laser pointer and farting (usually while laying near Rob).
Sam did not love: trash bags, bags where they shouldn’t be, any bag anywhere on the floor, Claws (RIP), the fireplace past age 10, playing dress up.
What do I love? Sam. I wonder how a messy hairy friend can mean so much and take up so a vast part of my life. I don’t know how to be an adult without his presence. I don’t know what it’s like to come home and not have him there. I don’t know what it will feel like to not say his name everyday, or how long it will take to adjust to a new routine where he is not apart of it. I don’t know what Jackson will do without him, or how I will be able to help him grieve and adjust.
Two months ago, Sam was diagnosed with Lymphoma. We decided on a palliative care approach, and he declined fairly steadily despite our endless spoiling. This weekend, Sam stopped loving (or being able to participate in) most of the list I mentioned above that used to bring him such happiness. His joy became harder to see, until yesterday I recognized that he needed to let go even though every cell in my body was not ready. So together, Rob and I made the incredibly hard decision to say goodbye, even though we know it’s what was best for Sam. No more pain, no more restless nights, no more medication. Just a beautiful day to close your eyes and journey on.
Rob, thank you for helping me raise Sam every day since the day he found us and for helping me let him go so gracefully.
The most fun moments with Sam were the ones a still frame couldn’t capture. Here’s a small compilation of some of our most fun memories over the last 11 years.
I”ll always think that the best advice I’ve learned from my dog. He said, “Anytime someone you loves enters a room, you should go totally insane with joy”. I will miss my friend every day for the rest of my life.