Sam faced a lot of obstacles when he came: a new home, a strange person, a resident dog, indoor living and, of course, big health problems. He had a large mass in his groin that was excised and then removed; it was caused by a small malignant growth on his skin. He had periodontal disease and had to have two teeth removed, and crippling arthritis. He really struggled those first few weeks but who could blame him.
It wasn’t long before he began knocking down those obstacles one at a time. He had not been socialized with other dogs but he didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body, just fear and that was soon conquered. He, with the help of his flirtatious daughter, soon became Mackenzie’s good friend. The next obstacle was the three steps into the house and for awhile they seemed impossible. His hips were just too weak to get him up the stairs, but over the next few weeks he and I perfected the “butt boost” and he began to voluntarily assume the position and shift his weight forward to be boosted. He grew to really enjoy it and the praise he got at the top – cheers all around and he would wag his tail so proudly. Sam made mistakes, a lot of them in the house, but no dog could have tried harder to be good and he mostly succeeded.
At first it was a challenge, but mostly it was a privilege, to see a deeply bonded pair of dogs – how Emily and he would use each others strengths and compensate for each others weaknesses – and the loving kindness between them.
Sam loved: his daughter Emily, his meals and treats, lying by the fire snoring his quiet snore, lying in the shade on the grass on a warm day, when I came home from work, getting the dog bed closest to the head of my bed, leaning his head against my leg when I played fetch with the other dogs, barking joyously and “running” out the door at the start of each day, teasing kitty Chaucer, and having his ears rubbed.
Sam didn’t like: slippery floors, turquoise trucks, riding in the car, barriers or crates, harsh voices and rain.
His health had been declining in the last couple of months. A serious bout of diarrhea from eating tainted meat and an even more serious bout of idiopathic vestibular syndrome really weakened him. Although he had a textbook recovery from the “wobblies” as we called them, he remained perceptively weaker. His arthritis medication no longer helped him and the new medication wasn’t much better. He was struggling more and more with standing up and lying down and quite often tipped over when he turned. He developed problems with going down the stairs and we started working on finding the best way to help him down.
I still hoped that we would have at least six more months together, but events changed rapidly. He would have lived those final months in terrible pain during recovery, so I made the difficult choice and held him to the end, with the assistance of a very kind vet in Brainerd.
He was a sweet and gentle soul and I miss him (which is why this note has been delayed). His daughter Emily is struggling but she is being helped by the wonderful relationship that she has developed with Mackenzie. We will never forget Sam, and I thought that if you knew more about him, you would understand why.
– Marian Ridge