As I write this, my heart is broken. I just found out that my dog of almost 14 years has passed away. I have dreaded this day for years and can’t believe it has actually happened. Sammie-girl has always seemed to beat the odds, so I guess a part of me was hoping she would continue to live forever.
My ex-husband, Tony and I rescued Sammie from a shelter back in 1997. We were newlyweds at the time and had been looking for a dog. I remember clear as day when she walked off the truck at the Pet Smart in Arlington, Texas, looking scared, scraggly and sick. And yet Tony immediately said, “That is our dog,” without even glancing at any of the other healthy, good looking dogs. We spent the next hour playing with her (well, as much as she would play, she really never mastered that art) and were absolutely smitten with her sweet, docile and laid back demeanor. She had this sad look in her eyes like her life had been pretty rough thus far. She was skin and bones and had a huge scar that ran down her side like she had been abused. We were not about to leave without this dog. She touched something in our hearts from the first five minutes we were around her.
We took her to the vet and he told us point blank that she was very sick and only gave her a fifty percent chance to live. We both had tears in our eyes and were devastated even though we had only just met her. We both decided right then and there, that we would do whatever it would take to take care of this sweet dog and give her the best life possible.
I remember vividly taking her to meet our family for the first time. Everyone was shocked at why we would pick out such a sick and scraggly looking dog, but we saw what was special beneath her bedraggled appearance. She was so scared and shy at first. But over the course of the next few months, she started to transform into a beautiful, healthy and happy dog. She still had her sweet demeanor and I don’t know one person who did not fall in love with her immediately. She just had this way about her. Even my brother, who is NOT a dog lover, adored Sammie and dog sat for her often.
She wasn’t like most dogs; she didn’t play, fetch or do any normal dog activities. In fact, she really didn’t care for other dogs at all. She would look at them with disdain as they tried to play with her, and would then look at us like “Really? Do I have to be around this creature?” She thought of herself as a person – and we pretty much treated her like one. She went everywhere with us and loved to travel. She would sit in the backseat like a person, and if someone sat in her seat, she would just give them a scathing look.
As sweet as she was, she wasn’t always an angel. She did go through a rebellious stage, one that Tony and I referred to as her “teenage years”, where she ran around with some unsavory dogs in our neighborhood and would escape from our backyard quite often. Let’s just say we were on a first name basis with the dog catcher.
One of Tony’s favorite memories of Sammie was to watch her play in the snow. Sammie loved the snow and used to run and jump through snowdrifts for hours. We loved to take her to a park watch her scamper about. During the snow was the most I ever really saw her play; she was definitely in her element.
She was our best friend through thick and thin. During rough times in our marriage, Sammie always seemed to know when something was wrong and would sit as close as she could to us pleading with her eyes for us to stop arguing. I can still picture her face to this day – I think she was as affected by our divorce as much we were.
After our divorce, we tried to share her as fairly as we could; we both loved her so much and didn’t want to be away from her. She was my comfort on the nights I was alone in my new apartment – she never left my side. Over the past few years as she began to age, it was apparent that she needed to stay in one place. We decided over many tears and tense discussions, that she would live at Tony’s for good. That was one of the most difficult moments of my life, letting go of Sammie. She lived with Tony for the last year of her life and I would see her periodically. She deteriorated rapidly over the past month and we both knew the end was near. I got to see her one last time over Christmas – I think I knew deep down that would be the last time I saw her even though I wouldn’t admit it to myself. When I got the phone call from Tony this morning, my heart was ripped in two.
My friend told me about a book called “Dog Heaven” that she suggested we get to read to Nicholas, who is going to be devastated about his “Sammie-Girl” that he has known and loved his entire life. One of the quotes from the book says: “When dogs go to Heaven, they don’t need wings because God knows that dogs like running best.”
I can only hope our Sammie-girl is running around in Heaven right now.
Thank you for being the best dog in the world, we will miss you so much, our sweet Sammie-girl