We made the difficult decision to have Samantha, our 10 year old chocolate lab put down this week; we knew we were on borrowed time when, in November, she had to have surgery to remove a large mast cell tumor that had burst through the skin on her side. Six months post-surgery and her right side was covered by multiple large nasty tumors that were causing her to furiously itch and scratch, actually gnawing on her paws in a vain attempt to relieve the itching. She could no longer lie on her right side, which annoyed her to no end, she limped, walks became more like crawls and she was clearly uncomfortable, but never complained. She was, as they say, a “trooper”.
Her passing has, quite simply left a hole in my heart.
Max (Sam’s younger brother), has never been the “leader”, always followed Samantha. He’s never had to wake us in the morning, begging for breakfast; he hasn’t ever had to “ask” us for a walk or for dinner –these were just some of the things Sammy was responsible for (I’m not certain he even knows how to ask us to go outside). Without Sammy, he seems lost and overwhelmed, but mostly, like us, he seems sad. I hope he will bounce back in a few days; I worry about him becoming depressed.
When Sammy first arrived, I discovered that to live with a dog is to truly know, understand and appreciate unconditional love and undying devotion. The incredible joy dogs show when you simply walk back into a room, overjoyed to see you, it’s as if you are returning from some long lost journey (when it was actually less than five minutes). Samantha and Max have helped me understand what it means to be present and “live in the moment “, to be joyful. She was a gift, on loan to us, from God.
We did all we could to make sure that Sammy’s last week was filled with all of the things she loved. Including two walks to the woods to see Tracy and play in the river with Max and Harley, endless treats, multiple walks, playing with her and “baby” (he favorite headless chew toy) and a trip to the cottage with more walks and swimming (the water seemed to relive her itching). Seeing her so happy made our decision that much harder. I prayed she would pass in her troubled sleep, I prayed for a sign that putting her down was the best thing we could do for her, I cried. Hours before we were to leave for the vet’s, Sammy was lying in the sun drying after her swim, I was looking at the masses on her body when I noticed that the largest tumor had finally broken through her skin; the sign I was waiting for had arrived.
I cry a little less with each passing day but have an emptiness inside that wasn’t there a week ago. Samantha was a happy girl, full of love, kisses and demands (nickname; DIVA). Her people, food, walks and Max were her priorities and they never failed to light up her eyes or make her tail slam into the floor or wall with glee. Such a sweet baby; my heart aches to remember her last breath. Samantha was, as usual, happy when she left us; an entire bowl of treats eaten (no sharing!), her head in my arms, tail wagging, looking into my husband’s eyes, the one she loved and trusted the most.
We miss you Samantha. Thank you for being part of our family.