Every restaurant she ever went to, ever person she ever met, always asked about her when we left her home. If dogs are put on earth with a purpose, as some believe people are, her purpose was clear. Convert as many dog dislikers and dog fearing humans as possible to the Love Dog Movement. She was very successful. Folks who had never really wanted a dog in their life at all, became enamored with her. She got the nickname, “Sami, the dog you could take anywhere.”
She came into my life after the loss of another beloved dog. I was looking for a big dog and when I went to the Pasadena Humane Society, they asked, “How would you like the biggest dog in the whole place?”
Samantha was 92 pounds of confidence and love. She was not perfectly behaved. She never quite got the hang of walking well on a leash. She was a master escape artist who liked to visit everyone in the neighborhood, but in her senior years, she was content to hang out in the yard, going out every morning to survey her kingdom.
She did not always get the best part of me. The five and a half years I had her, were the most stressful five and a half years of my life. Financial issues, crazy jobs with crazy hours, the death of my mother. I was not always fun to be around and sometimes, she saw meltdowns that no dog that sweet should have ever had to witness.
Yet, she continued to be upbeat, sunny, loving, and grateful. Whatever had caused some other family to abandon her, I will never know. The only story I could ever come up with, was maybe they had lost their home during the housing collapse and finding an apartment that would take a Mastiff Rottweiler mix was just too difficult.
I was never successful in buying her a dog house that she liked, so last summer, after the long deck process, I built her a mid-century modern one that had a wide opening. She did not like feeling closed in and so most store bought dog houses made her claustrophobic. She watched me build it, totally aware it was for her. When it was finished, she ran in it and then ran out to me, tail wagging, sitting in front of me, as if to say, “Thank you so much! I love it!”
With my last career change, I was doing a long commute and was typically gone 14 hours a day. She got very little time with me. Every night, I came home and promised her that someday it would be different. Having transitioned away from managing people, I was actively pursuing a plan that would allow me to work from home. I imagined having her by my feet as I sat working in my home office and I would describe to her how great it would be. Having someone to talk to about it, made me focus on it even more. I started interviewing with a company who specialized in work from home positions last February.
Around the same time, Sami fell jumping into my truck. She had a limp in her right front paw that I thought was a muscle injury. I got hit with a trifecta of stress right around that same time. My last living uncle was dying, I had a severe financial issue and I was in the middle of a home insurance claim.
When the limp did not get better, I took her to the vet and they prescribed some pain medication. As I continued to be overrun with life’s mayhem, the limp got worse. As things finally began to clear up a bit, I took her back to the vet.
He did a more extensive x-ray and found something I wasn’t prepared for. A massive cancerous tumor on her right shoulder that was pressing on the nerves to the leg causing the limp. The cancer had already spread to her chest and the vet said it was moving at a very rapid rate. She had never complained, probably knowing I had so much to deal with, that one more thing might tip me over
“Is she in pain?” I asked.
“Yes, I suspect quite a bit,” he replied.
“If she were your dog, what would you do?”
“I would put her down today.”
Not the answer I was hoping for, but an honest one. I called the D-Man, who adored her and was on his way to my house via the Metro. Did he want to say goodbye? Take her home, only to have to bring her back again? Load her in the truck when she was already in pain?
“Do what is best for Samantha,” he said. And I knew the time had come to do what would put her at peace.
She was a brave girl until the end. The one promise I made to her that I kept was that she had found her forever home and that I would be beside her when she left this earth.
Two days later I got the job offer to work from home. I accepted, but ended up staying with my current employer when they matched the offer to allow me to work from home and threw in a promotion and a raise.
It was bittersweet until I realized that maybe Samantha had a second purpose on this earth. To see me through tough times. Now that things were looking up, maybe it was time for her to move on.
Grief is very personal and everyone deals differently. My choice, in feeling the emptiness that a dog less house is for me, is to find another dog to love. Another life to save. To honor Samantha, who just wanted to make dog lovers out of everyone in the world.
So tomorrow, as I start a new phase in my career, working from my home office, there will be another dog at my feet. And somewhere on the Rainbow Bridge, Samantha’s tail is wagging.