Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sam's Story

In February 2009, I decided I had been without a canine companion too long, and so ventured to our local humane society to see about adopting. My sister, and her husband came along to help me in my choice, and because they are avid animal lovers always interested in the possibility of a new friend.

I'd never been to the shelter, and my first impression was of an orderly front office, with a few animals lounging about, and being made much of, friendly office workers, and then back to the kennels -  the dogs generally stood and came to the front to see who was here. And so we made our way through saying hello, murmuring endearments, and encouragement, patting noses - I had one dog in mind. I'd seen the story of an Aussie shepherd, and had planned on the possibility of her - but she had already been taken that morning - however all three of us were immediately taken with a young shepherd mix , with sad, sweet eyes, medium height, and a soft glossy coat.Taken out of the kennel he danced, pranced, and lept - and I was soon signing papers, and out we went to go home.

Herbert my large ginger cat, accepted Sam quite readily - he is an amiable, easy going cat, who had lived with our Sheltie for some years, and has no prejudices about dogs, so this went well. Sam promptly ran upstairs, and curled up on my bed.

Sam turned out to be a wonderful dog, friendly to cats, all people, and other dogs we met on our walks.

Our vet felt he wasn't really much of a shepherd, more of a true Heinz mix - with his slender body, long legs, long pointed ears, and deer like face.My intuition was that he may have had some hound in him such as coon or beagle.

When people came to visit, he would press his whole body against them as if in a hug, and win them over with his gently face.

Sam soon made a best friend. A neighbour, it turned out had adopted her little Allie, a rescued young Australian shepherd, on the exact same date as I had brought Sam home. Allie had many issues related to fear, and it had taken her some time under the care of her rescuer to get to the point of being ready to be adopted. But with the love and care of her new owner, Wendy, she was blossoming into quite a social butterfly at the local off leash dog park.

Allie loved Sam - when her "mom", Wendy started out for their evening walk, Allie always led her to our house. There Allie barked briskly - adoring Sam ran to answer her bark, and Allie and Wendy came in to visit for a few minutes before we joined them for a long walk, no matter what the weather. Allie also loved my cats, (by this time Arthur had joined our household - another story) - and part of the visit involved Arthur chasing Allies lead about the house. Really this was a remarkable show of animal love, and community, initiated by Allie

But although Sam was the quiet one it was obvious he was an important companion to Allie. Now and then she would prance and dance on our walk, and bark excitedly, and Sam would just stand looking at her as if to calm her down.

Remembering this wonderful bond, between Sam and Allie fills me with gratitude that I had the chance to witness this, and to have the beautiful Sam in my life for a time.

My life circumstances changed, and I had to do what I had considered unthinkable. I needed to find Sam a new home - because I would be moving out of my house into an apartment which didn't allow dogs.

I tried on my own through many means to find him a home, but as my move date was arriving quickly I knew I had to surrender him back to the shelter.  I did this with several people's disapproval, and as well not liking my decision or myself much.The few days before we would be going to the shelter I tried to fill with love and kindness.We lay together on the couch, and I stroked his gentle face telling him over and over what a good dog he is, and that I would love him forever.

The Sunday I took him back I packed his favourite blanket, toys, his food, and favourite dog chews, as well as his bowls.The individuals who processed the surrender were extremely kind, and understanding. They said his special things could be kept until he found a new home.They couldn't take the food, as they fed all the animals a certain kind of food.

I was allowed to say goodbye to Sam, and sat and held him for sometime telling him he is a good dog. When I handed his lead over to the attendant he turned his face to me with a look I will never forger - with a quiet question, in his gentle eyes.

I had to turn and walk out.

I phoned every day to find out how he was, and was so saddened that he wouldn't eat, and had diarrhea.

However, he went home with his kennel attendant within four days, and she gave him a home with her dog.

I think about Sam every day, and have his photo up at work. This is at least what I can do for my dignified, wonderful dog.


Teri C said...

Such a happy, sad, heart-warming story. Our pets do become our children and such a difficult thing to do, but at least he is happy again and you have your wonderful memories. I know you shed a lot of tears because I did just reading.

Wonderfully written Brenda.

MullenAvenueWorkshop said...

Well, Teri, thank you, and now I find I'm shedding more tears.
Thanks for being kind.

Teri C said...


Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said...

I'm sorry you hd to do this! Life is filled with sad things, but at least he was adopted by an animal lover. I' ve had to go through some horrible things in my life an I can relate to this. You write very well. Iwish I had that skill!

Thanks for always leaving such wonderful detailed comments on my blog! I appreciate them all and they make my day! Thank you and take care of yourself.

MullenAvenueWorkshop said...

Melissa, Thanks for dropping in, and commenting here.
It's nice to see you here on my other blog.
I find a lot of inspiration from your blog, both in ideas, and for your creativity with your child. I just get a boost reading you!!!

MullenAvenueWorkshop said...

Just to add a post script to Sam's story:
I was not condoning what I did by adopting Sam, and then later returning him.

I feel very badly about what I did because I broke trust with a wonderful dog.

However writing about him feels like celebrating the good times we did have - I just wanted to share with others what a really great animal he is - I believe he is in now a good home, but I know I hurt his heart.

sparksinshadow said...

Well, I've just had a good cry! Your's and Sam's parting just about broke my heart. I hate that this society we live in, takes away the ability to make so many harmless, and much desired, choices! I think that's one of the hardest lessons that we have to teach our children. The things we teach them, that must be done for personal safety are hard enough for them to fathom. This sort of thing upsets me so; it's hard for me as an adult to even understand. I'm thankful that you were able to write this and tell us his story. He sounds like a wonderful companion.

MullenAvenueWorkshop said...

Thanks for your comment here Re'.
I'm sorry, my story has maybe given you the impression that I HAD to give Sam up, but I made a choice to.
I sold my old house, and because I'm getting older decided to move in to a condo apartment with no yard work, etc. this was a choice, and I knew it meant finding a new home for Sam.
I feel in the wrong that I adopted him just a year before, and then he had to go through the adoption process again.

He's a great dog, and so I wanted to write about the happiness of having him for the time I did.

sparksinshadow said...

Oh, I'm sorry I misunderstood. I thought the building didn't allow dogs. I do understand your point. I'm glad that you wrote about Sam and shared your happy memories of him with us.