Even though I’ve mentioned Sandy, and talk a little bit about her on the “Family” page, I’ve never shared her full story. Nor have I shared about how Samson died. I know death isn’t a very pleasant topic but it wouldn’t be right to introduce Sandy without first closing the book on Samson.
As I’ve shared in the various Samson Stories , he was a one of a kind dog. He was handsome, energetic, strong, stubborn, OCD, emotionally unavailable, exceptionally smart (too smart for his own good), so-so in the loyalty department, mischievious, and playful.
[Wow, he sounds like a bad ex-husband.]
Boy did I love him.
He lived to be 9 years old. Toward the end he had put on some weight and slowed down considerably. We thought the lack of playfulness and energy was attributed to his age and increased stature. That is until Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.
I knew something wasn’t right. He had stopped eating and was isolating himself. If you know anything about dogs, you know that is not a good sign. So after the long holiday weekend, we took him in to the Vet. They did blood work and X-rays and decided to keep him there for observation – or at least until he would start eating again.
They gave him some pain medicine and finally he started eating. However, they also determined that his increased size probably wasn’t due to overeating but instead was likely a tumor of some sort. A big one. There was no way to know if it was cancerous without opening him up. We thought about it and decided surgery was the best route. If the tumor was benign, they would cut it out and he’d be home again in no time. If it was cancerous then we’d likely have to put him down as there are very few times when they can do anything for a dog with cancer.
Next came another hard decision. By this time it was Friday and we had to decide if we wanted him to stay at the Vet’s office over the weekend so they could keep an eye on him or if we wanted to take him home and then back on Monday. However, there was a slight risk that the tumor could rupture if he moved the wrong way and he would internally bleed to death. I wanted him home because I missed him so much but I also didn’t like the idea of putting his life at risk. I would never forgive myself if we brought him home for our own selfish reasons and then something happened and we couldn’t save him. So we opted for him to stay at the clinic.
Saturday morning we took the girls to see Samson and we all spent some time petting and loving on him. He had more pep in his step but still wasn’t quite himself.
Monday was the day of the surgery and I wanted to see him again before they operated. This time CJ and I went alone. I knew there was a very real possibility that this could be the last time I saw him so I didn’t want to miss out on any opportunity to snuggle one more time.
He was about the same as he had been on Saturday. I wanted him to come sit by me and let me snuggle with him but he wouldn’t do that. He kept getting up and wandering away. I told him how much I loved him. I felt a strong urge to just keep saying it over and over so he would really know.
At one point, I grabbed a hold of his face and kissed his nose. I looked in to his eyes and he looked right back. Samson was not one to do that. He generally looked away. That’s just how he was. But this time he held my gaze and I felt like he was telling me good-bye and that it was going to be ok. He then gave me a lick, turned and walked toward the door to leave the room. We said one final good-bye and left.
Now the hard part came – waiting to hear back from the doctor on what they discovered. We were hanging around the house, killing time and but neither of us could concentrate. Finally the call came – the tumor was filling his spleen, spilled out in to his abdomen and was also in his liver. There was no way they could cut it out and it was likely cancerous. So we could have them sew him up and bring him home for a few more days until the cancer took him on its own or we could have them put him down, while he was already on the table and asleep. We chose to put him to sleep. It was not an easy decision but yet it was really the only one.
He died on June 1, 2015.
In a matter of a week we had gone from one big happy family to losing our fur baby. We cried off and on the entire day. We held each other. We called our families. We told the girls but they didn’t really understand (Isabella was 5 and Cora was 2). At one point in the afternoon, the girls were napping and CJ went out to the store. Alone, I found one of his favorite blankets, took it outside and laid down in his “spot” of the yard and cried. It was a beautiful afternoon and laying on the grass in the sun, I felt him there with me. I talked to him in my mind telling him how much I loved him and missed him. That we’d never forget him.
I was out there for about an hour. By the end I felt a sense of peace and though I still mourned for him for months to come, I was much more at ease.
We later buried his ashes in that same spot in the yard.
Fast forward days, weeks, months and life goes on. I struggled for a long time over the decision to leave him at the vet’s office over that last weekend. I felt so guilty that his last day’s on Earth were spent in a cage at the doctor’s, all alone. I know there were risks with bringing him home and we made the best decision we could but I really felt like we let him down on that one. I’ve mostly let that go but every once in a while still feel a pang of guilt over it.
We got used to a new life without him and began to talk about getting another dog. I was ready but CJ was not. He and Samson were best buddies and it was especially hard on him being home all day, in the empty dog-less house. I didn’t want to push him to do anything too soon so we just waited for the Universe to present us the right dog at the right time.
Then came a fateful dental appointment in the Fall of 2016.
[...to be continued!]