Long may you run

Hi Mark,

Today I received this hearfelt eulogy from a friend who lost his dog. It made me think about your passion for dogs and I found this site where it may find the right audience. It is sad but also very inspiring to all who have owned a dog at one time or another.

Thank you for providing this forum.

“I’m sorry to tell you that Christine and I put our dear old dog Sam to sleep yesterday.

Sam was more than 13 years old — in human years, he would have been in his mid-90s.  Back in December 1995, Christine\’s parents went to a Labrador Retriever breeder to buy Christine a puppy for Christmas, and they picked out Sam because he was the biggest dog in the litter.  Sam weighed 100 pounds, but as anyone who spent time with him knows, his body actually contained about 200 pounds\’ worth of knuckle-headed enthusiasm, affection, strength, and appetite.

Christine and I started dating about a month before Sam was born.  He saw us through two career changes, three trips through graduate school, four bar exams, nine changes of residence, a wedding, the first eight years of our marriage, and the births of two children. He accepted all of it with cheerful equanimity, and he was at home wherever he went, making friends on the suburban streets of Port Chester as easily as he had in the woods of Sleepy Hollow and on the campuses of the schools where Christine and I had worked.

By the time our daughter Meg arrived two years ago, Sam was slowing down with age, and although he remained as large and intimidating as ever, he treated little Meg with the gentle, stoic patience of a career nanny.  Meg spent much of her infancy sitting between Sam\’s two enormous front paws and leaning back against his broad shoulder, oblivious to his massive fanged jaws looming over her.  As she got older, Meg came to regard Sammy as a big, yellow, furry jungle gym / circus clown / wrestling partner / garbage disposal.  Occasionally Sam had to flee her more aggressive embraces, but most of the time he would just lick Meg\’s giggling face with his big red dishtowel of a tongue.

Over the past year, Sam declined into a frail, weary senility.  He had difficulty getting around; he often grew confused and had accidents in the house; and I had to carry him up the steps to our bedroom at night because he couldn\’t make the trip on his own.  Eventually, I had to start carrying him downstairs in the morning as well.

Two nights ago, just hours after our son Charlie was born, Sam\’s strength finally gave out for good.  By morning, he could no longer stand up, let alone walk, and he refused to eat or drink.  His time had come.  Meg couldn\’t really understand what was going on, but I told her that Sammy was sick, and I had to take him to the veterinarian\’s office.  Meg knelt down on Sam\’s bed, put her little arms around his big neck, gave him a soft kiss, and announced, \”I love you.\”

Charlie won\’t get to meet Sam, but we hope Meg will remember him and teach her little brother the lessons Sam taught her: that dogs who are treated with gentleness, patience, and generosity will give back all the affection that they get, and then some.  Christine and I often said that Sam\’s clumsy manners, ravenous appetite, and oversized body made him a dog for dog lovers only, but this doesn\’t give him enough credit.  Sam expected to make friends with everyone he met unless and until they gave him a reason to think otherwise — and even then, he was happy to forgive and forget past troubles.  The only two things that ever led him into real mischief were open food containers and an overwhelming desire to be near the people he loved.  Many people who generally didn\’t care for dogs made an exception for sweet old Sammy.

I haven\’t read Marley & Me, and I don\’t plan to.  I know what it\’s about, and I know how it ends — but I have my own big yellow dog to remember.  Sam gave Christine and me more than 13 years of funny, poignant memories, and I hope he gave those of you who knew him a few warm memories, too.  If you ever brought him into your home, took him for a walk, let him play with your dog, fed him a biscuit, tossed him a ball, gave him a hug, or just patted him on the head . . . thank you.  You can be sure that you had a friend in Sam.

Goodbye, old friend.  Long may you run. Mike\”

All the best,
Ledia from MA