I became Sam’s human in August of 2004. I had graduated nursing school the previous May. Got a job at ACME hospital. Bought a car, on my own, from a dealership. He was a little ball of white, that had spunk. I liked that. I took him home, and he cried all night. I proceeded to have a panic attack because the gravity of me being responsible for so much just hit me. I wanted to be good at my job and not kill anyone. I wanted to be a good mom to little Sam. It was stepping way out of my comfort zone.
Through the years, Sam and I managed just fine. He loved going for car rides, especially when he almost always got an ice cream cone at the end of it. He loved to be around people. He loved to play in the snow and then the mud. He loved to splash around in water, but hated to swim. He was defiant, but he was loyal. And for nine years, he was witness to may ups and downs in my life, always being the constant. When I cried, he stood and watched, and wagged his tail in a way that suggested that while all things seem bad now, there’s always time for play. He got to be with Log, and gave his approval for him to be part of our forever home.
This week, I had Sam put down. An injury that could not be fixed, and attempting to would put him through so much pain and agony, without any guarantee it would even work….I couldn’t bear to do it. I see so much of this at work. Families put their loved one through hell just to keep them alive. But at whose benefit? It’s certainly not the patient, who is laying in bed, with various tubes and machines to keep them alive. Just as I wished those family members could ask themselves, I demanded of myself, “What kind of quality of life can we expect if we take him to the wall?”
We gathered at the vet’s office, and they brought Sam out. He seemed so tired, so out of it, that I wondered if he even recognized me. Finally, he shook his tail briefly. It was slower than usual. One that told me that he was tired, too tired for play. I knew then, that the right choice was being made.
I held Sam in my arms when the doctor gave him the drug. Log was there, we both cried. We patted his head, told him we loved him and would miss him. He sighed and slipped away quietly, the burden of illness lifting from him, leaving just a soft ball of fluff behind. My Little Beau lay in my arms as if he were sleeping. It was a very painful moment, but also precious and profound.
The house is more quiet. The sound of Sam’s nails ticking on the hardwood floor can no longer be heard. His kennel remains empty. A pall over the house that Log and I both feel. Lucy has gone looking for her little friend, but come up empty. Maybe she understands. It’s silly to grieve over an animal this way, but even animals can become symbolic of many things, and they become part of your family. Especially when you don’t get what you need from your real family.
I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be Sam’s Forever Human. He taught me patience. He taught me that even in darkness, there is always room for a smile.
I will miss him.