Twelve years ago, on this very date (June 2), an almost-family of three (still two Durhams and a Berdine, as the wedding was still two months away) drove way out into the countryside and brought home two six-week old golden retriever puppies. One of those puppies would not live past her second birthday. Lila’s death marked one of the first very sad moments in the life of our new family.
The other puppy would grow into a funny, handsome, loyal, very good dog who would give us and our guests lots of fodder for dinner table conversation, lots of reasons to giggle and lots of reasons to love life a little more.
Of all the things Sam is, however, faithful describes him best of all. When I am home, even in these last days, he is by my side. When I get up in the morning, he gets up too. When I go to bed at night, he follows behind me and lays down by my bedside. When I go from room to room, cleaning or getting ready to go, he follows me around until he finally gets tired of my constant room switching and lays down in the hallway at the center of the house where he can monitor my activity no matter which way I go. When I watch TV or read a book, he lies down at my feet. When I eat, he stands by hopefully (unless Jason’s eating too–he knows his odds of getting a treat are much greater if he stands by Jason in that case). When I take a shower, he takes a guard position outside the bathroom door. Often, to get him to go outside, I have to go outside too just so he’ll be convinced to stay there long enough to do what he needs to do.
I wish I could say I’ve been as faithful to him. I keep insisting on leaving him behind as I go to work. to Zumba, to the store, out with friends, on mission trips and vacations…I always make sure he’ll be cared for while we’re gone–his list of family and friends is long and wonderful, but I always have another place to go.
Unfazed, however, no matter how long I’m gone–one week, one afternoon, one minute–when I return there is he is, waiting for me so he can greet me, tail wagging, and be by my side again.
He’s a dog, but he’s not just a dog.
He’s been in our family for twelve years today. This Thursday (June 5), we will take him to his vet for the last time and I will stay by his side and say goodbye.
When you get a dog, you don’t hope he’ll outlive you. There’s always the realization that one day, hopefully many years down the road, the time will come to say goodbye. It’s been almost four weeks since we first took Sam to the vet to have his mouth checked out. So many of you have expressed your sorrow and care to us countless times. Sometimes, it seems a little embarrassing for this to be such a drawn-out experience or to be sharing it and updating about it and “making” you express sympathy and concern.
Yet, I know that your care comes not only from our friendship, for which I am grateful, but also because many of you have loved dogs and cats and goldfish and turtles and parakeets and even snakes that you’ve lost and missed or that you dread losing and missing one day. Thank you for both your friendship and your empathy. And thank you for indulging a final blog entry about our very good, faithful dog.