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.