Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Sam

Dear Sam,

I can't believe three days have passed since you left us.  Time has stopped for me, frozen to that single second I looked into your eyes and watched you take your last breath.  In that second I saw our life together, every beautiful minute that we were together.  I remembered you as a puppy, the day my Dad and I picked you up.  It was family tradition, my Dad and I picked out all the dogs we had. You were a Christmas gift from my parents.  You were from a large litter, 13 puppies if I remember right.  I'd pick up each puppy and lay them on their back, and play with them on the ground, just to see what personality each one had.  I picked you up and looked in your eyes and I saw the world. 
I knew right then you were mine.  I handed you to my Dad and you turned into ninja puppy.  I still remember Daddy holding you at arms length, trying to avoid being kicked, and asking me "Are you sure you want this one?"  I was never more sure of anything in my life.  I tried the puppy tests on you - I couldn't turn you over and you had no interest in interacting with the other puppies.  Less then a year later I lost my Dad - you were the last puppy he and I ever chose together.  Having you with me got me through that time.

You were so sure of yourself as a puppy, and so independent.  You were housebroken on the first try, but you failed obedience 3 times, dear Sam.  You were so unruly that the instructor asked us to never come back.  After that I never asked you to be obedient, I just asked you to be my friend, and you were so happy to comply.  Everything we did was just because it made us happy to be with each other.  You learned to pick things up and bring them to me - my wallet, other peoples wallets, and once a rabbit you caught in the yard.  I still remember the puzzled look in your eyes when you set him down at my feet and he took off.  You passed your CGC test without trying, with you as a senior we started agility, and then finally, you became a therapy dog.  All without knowing how to behave, and doing all just because you loved to make me happy.
Somewhere early on you decided that I truly was your person, and you and I were never far apart.  Nobody could take your leash and walk away with you - your job was to watch over me and you took it seriously.  You worried even when I went into another room.  You were my constant shadow.  At night you would wait for me in the hallway and walk with me to bed.  You'd be waiting for me when I got out of the shower.  During the day, I knew I could always see you in the camera, laying by the front door, waiting for me.

 I tried to make a list of all the major things you got me through.  You've been there for so many changes in my life:  losing my Dad, then my job shortly after, starting a new job, meeting and marrying Aaron, losing darling Cisco...  the list goes on.  The worst part?  I need you now Sam - I'm hurting so bad and this one time you aren't here.  I know you wouldn't have left if you had a choice - you never ever left me.
Sometimes you had bad days too.  You were a cancer survivor in your younger years.  All the medicine you took caused you to have a sensitive stomach.  You always felt better when Aaron and I were with you.  Do you remember the one time we busted you out of the vet's office?  You weren't getting any better and we knew you'd be fine once you got home.  We told them we'd drive you to the specialist for your catscan, we just never told them we wouldn't be bringing you back.

Everybody who ever met you commented on what a special boy you were.  You thought you were human most days.  You wanted very little to do with dogs, but were very happy sitting with us and watching other pups play.  You had a way of making people feel special, you'd lean against them and smile and they couldn't help but smile back.  It was hard to miss how different you were - you didn't like to sit on prickly grass, you'd sit on my shoe instead.  Or, if I was sitting on the grass, you'd sit in my lap.

I still smile when I remember the first time you saw yourself in a mirror.  You could not believe how good looking you were.  You would have stayed there all day looking at yourself.  That was also one of the two times I got to bring you into the office.  You were always so hopeful I could bring you back. 

Oh Sam, I wish I could write about everything that made you so special.  I'd write about how you hated baths and pools but loved lakes and rivers.  You were always ready for an adventure, but put up with me wanting to dress you.  You took photos so seriously and if I asked you to put something on, you did without any fuss.  You were a champion hat wearer, could sport a fine mustache, and nobody will ever wear the bee leg warmers like you did.
I'd write about how you always sat near me to comfort me when my head hurt or I had a bad day.  You seemed to always know that having you close was the best medicine of all.
I'd write about how you were a fine big brother for Monty, who misses you terribly.  He always took lead from you, now he isn't sure if he should bark at the garbage truck or not, or go outside or stay inside.  He is stressed without you.  I think he thinks we left you somewhere.
Harlow is confused too.  She knows I'm sad and is trying hard to cheer me up.  She doesn't understand why Monty isn't interested in playing right now.
I hope you can hear me, Sammish.  I still talk to you like I always did.  I'm glad we have all the memories of you and how wonderful you were.  Aaron and I will keep the blog going for you, and continue to tell the stories of Harlow and Monty, and share memories of you. 

Sam, above all, please know I love you, and will never stop loving you. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Sam

We lost our sweet Sam today.  I don't have the words right now to write more.  He was our boy, and we loved him.
Sam Sterling
10/21/2002 - 09/20/2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Hi everyone.  First of all, I need to apologize for being so hit-and-miss with blogging lately.  I am still reading everyone's blogs, but due to Sam's illness, I feel like my comments are coming out as snarky or depressing.  I'm trying very hard not to do that to our friends, so I am just staying quiet for now.

Sam is fading from us.  I think we are looking at weeks, maybe days, instead of months.  How I hope I'm wrong.  Sam remains cheerful, quick to wag his tail and expect his treat, even though his body is slowly failing him. 
Can I have a slice of pizza, Dad?
 Monty and Harlow are fully aware something is wrong with their big brother.  They both spend time with Sam, laying near him or hovering. 
Sam and Monty - brothers forever!
...and yes, Sam has a produce sticker on his head in the above picture...
Keeping her big brother company...
Harlow seems to know when I need to smile, and pops up in the most unexpected places.
...any chance I could have a treat while I'm here?

We have more news to share, including AZGRC's calendar - featuring our boy Monty as Mr October, our prize from winning a contest held by Jack and the Tall Guy, and a lot of photos of Monty and Harlow playing together.  I promise we will be better at updating the blog.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Goodbye, sweet Nicholas

Many of you will remember that back in December, AZGRC rescued an amazing dog they named Nicholas.  Nicholas had a growth on his face and required extensive surgery to remove it.  If you would like to read the original posts (GRAPHIC), please click here.  Despite all that he had been through, Nicholas bounced back with all the grace of a Golden.

We all knew right from the start that Nicholas was indeed special.
 We had hoped to add him as a member of our family, but fate had other plans.  Nicholas remained in the loving arms of his foster people, Kara and Bob.
I enjoyed meeting him at his coming out party.  Nick was very stoic that day, accepting that he was indeed king of Nick Nation.  I know quite a few of you made donations for his care - Nick would not have been able to experience all the joy life can bring without your help.  Thank you so much.
Nick and I
Nicholas crossed to the bridge this morning surrounded by the folks who loved him best.  Rest in peace, sweet Nicholas. 
AZGRC's Amazing Nicholas