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Monday, September 16th, 2013...8:03 AM

“I am old, but still a child”*

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Again with the thank yous to everyone here. I cannot begin to adequately explain how much your words helped, especially in that difficult time beforehand. Never, ever underestimate the power of heartfelt words–even if you aren’t sure what to say, or whether it’s the right thing.

You know, the night before last, when I had come home and was left with nothing but those agonizing, interminable minutes between the deciding and the doing, I received an e-mail from our acupuncture vet (you’ll recall we haven’t seen her in a month or so, as the clinic discontinued that service). I had sent her and our PT a short note, just to say thank you and let them know what tomorrow would bring. She responded to me:

“Oh Megan- I’m so sorry… I couldn’t stop thinking of Sam this week, and just had a nagging feeling that something was up. I respect you so much for knowing and deciding that it’s his time. It is such an agonizing decision. Giving him a peaceful and dignified passing (among friends) is such a gift, even though it hurts. You gave him a wonderful family and life and cherished (in such a reasonable manner) the final six months you had with him more than any owner I’ve met. You and Sam are in my thoughts and prayers. If I can do anything to help you, please let me know. –Abby”

Her words, all of your words, and the words of everyone else who chimed in, made SUCH a difference. Nothing makes that twilight hour any easier, but things like that can certainly give you strength.

And now, in the light of day again–in fact, even just hours later–I am happy that we did things the way we did. There has not been a second of this journey that I have regretted. There have been difficult moments, frustrating moments, and incredibly sad moments…but no regrets at all.

Sampson was the first in my pack–preceding even Pat (actually, that same week I got Sam, I joined the UW Running Club, which is where Pat and I met–although we didn’t start dating for another 18 months or so). He (Sam, not Pat…although P. might beg to differ ;-) ) was a birthday present to myself: I was in a new town, didn’t know anyone, and was in a grad program in a field I knew nothing about. I figured at least this way I’d have someone on my side rasberry

Sam was stoic and sometimes standoffish; he was companionable but never clingy. He never demanded attention, and he hated fawning and fussing. He loved a good humping, a snack of cat crap (any crap, really), and he ALWAYS got excited to wear pants. rasberry

Despite his very “non-smushy” nature, and even when he began losing his fur from autoimmune disorder several years ago and started to take on a pretty odd, haggard appearance, people were always drawn to him. I could never for the life of me figure out why–if you read his description on paper, you’d think “What a curmudgeonly old fart.” Yet he had some inexplicable affability, some look in his eyes, some…something that resonated with people.

In March, when we got our diagnosis, we did not elect chemo, but made the decision to amputate his left front leg for palliative pain control only. I know some folks wrestle with that choice to amputate, but for us…it was, like so many things were with Sam, one of the easiest decisions I ever made. Sam was particular, and Sam was stubborn…sometimes downright truculent–but he was always an easy guy. He learned quickly, asked for little, and made no demands, aside from he be in the room with you.

I was hoping to get eight weeks with him. Instead, we got more than six good months. Six GOOD months–right up until the end.

The decision to say goodbye–or, rather the time in between the decision and the doing–was quite possibly the hardest, strangest, most inexplicable stretch of time I have ever had. It was a set of emotions unique unto themselves.

His passing, though, was quiet, peaceful, and very quick. Again, like much of his life, very easy.

Pat told me that Sam’s personality was as much his as it was mine; that maybe the reason people were drawn to Sam was because they felt like the knew him by knowing me. Maybe so (and IF so, then bless Pat for being doubly cursed with the both of us ;-) ).  Regardless, there is a hole in my life that will for sure always be there…but in return I gained far, far more than I ever would have without him. It was a worthy tradeoff, in every possible way.

Sam-bernadino, you finicky, truculent, smelly old man…you were not the dog for everyone, but you were always, always the dog for me.



*The name comes from one of my all-time favorite Queen songs, “All Dead”…which is not nearly as morbid as it sounds. It is a beautiful elegy about life, love, and losing a pet.

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