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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This morning our German Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Samantha, was hit by a car and almost immediately killed.  She was walking with me and Apollo shortly after 5 AM in our neighborhood.  The guy who hit her was just as devastated as I, and was kind enough to drive up the street and get my husband to bring his pick up.  I have walked Sam off the leash nearly her entire life because she was the best behaved of any of my dogs, never chasing rabbits, going after other dogs that were out for walks and pretty much staying by my side, unless she got a sniff of something interesting, but I never got too far away.  This morning she got a sniff and walked into the road instead of staying on the grass as I'd trained her when a car was on the road.  I made the mistake of thinking that since there had been no cars running the roads in the neighborhood at 5 AM that there never would be. Our neighborhood is not well lit and she was almost entirely black.  Once again, the guy who hit her is not Satan.  He was just as upset as I was.

My husband was angry, and upset and being a man did not deal with these emotions well.  He yelled, knocked things over and yelled at me outside and inside the house.  I stopped talking after telling him to stop being a child.  Both of us were hurting, badly, and struck out irrationally at one another. We both loved Sam to a ridiculous degree. We love all of our dogs in this manner because they return it a thousandfold.  You cannot explain pets to someone who is not an animal person.  They will never get it in a million years.

Right now as I sit here writing this, my German Shepherd, my Husky mix and the Beagle are all around my chair, as close to me as possible.  They are mourning, too.  It's common for dogs to mourn the passing of a pack member, but Sam was Alpha, so this is rough for them.  Even my cat, Gimli, is being somewhat subdued and only tried to bite me once in an attempt to play.  He settled down for petting and purring instead.  A great comfort, indeed.

We've buried her in the back by the greenhouse she was always trying to follow me in to.  She's in the shade of a pecan tree.  She was a great dog, if a somewhat fussy one.  She thought she owned me and I thought that was pretty funny.  We owned each other.

She was such a timid thing, always.  It's why we mistook her for an Omega for so long.  Her calming influence was fantastic once she was out of the playful puppy stage.  It was why I walked her with Apollo, she kept him on pace and curious about his environment by sniffing every blade of grass in every yard we passed.  But we found out earlier this year when she was ill and had to eat a special diet away from the other dogs, she was definitely the Alpha.  Our poor males nearly starved two nights in a row because they could not see her eating in my bedroom.  I had to start feeding her where they could see her in the sunroom and then would begin eating their own food.  Quiet, assertive stubborness, that was Sam.

When she was a puppy and I took over her training I made the mistake of keeping a treat in my hand and putting it under her chin while walking to teach her to heel.  Even this morning she would come up to touch base and nibble at my fingers before stopping to smell another blade of grass. She loved nibbling my finger tips. It was our "thing".  She loved following me into the bathroom, well, everywhere, actually.  There was rarely a time you would see me, around my house, without her.  The kids often joked that I'd trained her to be dependent on me.  It made both of us happy, for the most part.  She slept right underneath me under my bed each night.  I had made her a bed area in our bedroom, but she wanted to be as close to me as possible. Apollo got that bed when we took him in.  Zeus is too active to want to stay in our small "master" bedroom for long, so he has his bed in the living room.  It should be by the fireplace, but he really likes the couch.  Sam did, too.

I have never forgotten that my pets, my companions are glorious gifts to me.  Their love and devotion are worth the clean ups, the training head aches, being stepped on, bowled over and licked within an inch of your life.  You show them a little bit of love, and perhaps food, and they are yours.  Like Sam always knew when I just needed her to press against me, nudge me with her nose to let me know she was there. She was a quiet, persistent presence in my life.  I miss her so much already and it's only been hours.  I pray she's somewhere gamboling around doggie heaven with Sasha and King and Ragnar, my other beloved pets who have gone.  Each one took a part of me with them.  The part that was uniquely theirs.

My husband and son dug her burial site.  Only in our family would we be grieving this loss and making Monty Python jokes at the same time.  It makes sense to us to laugh when you feel like you're being ripped up inside by grief.  We wrapped her up in her bedding, with a Milkbone, her favorite treat, and I will always be able to look out my sun room bay window and see where she is, but in reality, she's with me always, in my heart and memories.  I know that with time the hurt will ease, but I will always remember her with a pang, just as I do our other dogs.  Because I always feel that I should have loved them more, showed them more... just always more.  I think we eat ourselves up with that sort of thing all the time when it comes to loved ones who are gone.

So here's to Samantha, beloved companion.  I didn't deserve you as much as you thought I did, but I'm damned grateful you thought that much of me.  I'm sorry and I will be for a very, very long time.  I loved you as you loved me.  Unconditionally and eternally.

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