So we decided to get a dog. We already had two cats but my husband Derek had never been able to have a dog before and although I had had dogs as a child, they weren’t really my dogs, I never took care of them. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Derek found Sam at the local shelter. He was about 4-5 year old, big cuddly bear of a chocolate Labrador. We though, “this will be easy.” Well, not quite. It turned out he had pretty bad separation anxiety. We couldn’t crate him, he would break out of the crates. Leaving him in the house resulted in hours of barking, whining, and drooling. We couldn’t leave him in the backyard for the same reason.
After about a month, we gave up. We planned on taking him back to the shelter. We were just too green for this kind of challenge. But while Derek was there to give him back he ran into someone we knew who was looking for a dog. The took him instead of the shelter and I am so glad they did because that is how he ended up coming back to us. They loved him but he kept breaking out of the back yard. Every time he did, the humane society would call us because he was still registered with our name and phone number. After the third time he came back to us we said “Ok, I guess he is ours.” We took better responsibility for his issues. We put him on some medication for the anxiety and Derek took him to work for every day for about 3 months. Eventually we were able to leave him at home without him having anxiety. I imagine he thought “Ok, I guess they are my people now, I don’t have to worry.” We took him off the meds and he was our loyal friend and companion from then on.
We went for hikes, walkies downtown, the dog park. He was a great car dog and we took him on long road trips. We learned to sleep with a 90lb dog in the bed. We learned to appreciate his goofy smile and ability to eat anything. He had a dog friend down the street that he would go a visit, if he got out of the house he would trot down the street to Molly’s house (she was a chow mix). He would scratch on their front door screen, Molly would then push open for Sam to come in. We would eventually get a call that Sam was over visiting Molly. She would come to our house too. It was so sweet. When we moved, he couldn’t visit her very well, so we got him a companion, Maggie. Then, as he got older we got Gunther to keep Maggie busy. Sam had several cat friends too. He also loved guinea pigs! He would get so excited when the piggy’s came to visit (we would baby sit a friend’s.) He would watch them in their cage for hours.
Sam was a very happy, well loved dog. When it was time to let him go, he had many friends and extended family come to say good-bye, with more than a few tears. He died at the ripe age of 15. Having him die at home was a blessing and Kathy was so gentle and kind to him. We are so sad but we know he had a happy home. Losing him is hard but I would not have missed being his friend for anything in the world. We learned so much about dogs, unconditional love, canine dental hygiene, and the importance of peanut butter in life.
We love you Sam. Happy trails.
Patti Uman and Derek Williams