This week I had to put my precious Sam to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Like me and Molly, Sam survived abuse and unspeakable heartbreak. Each of us were lost until James found us, and together, we became a family.
Sam was with me through breast cancer; losing James; Goldie’s stroke; mother’s death and Molly’s death last month.
Fourteen years ago James found Sam in the backyard of our spy house on the hill. Sam was emaciated and scared. Even so he pawed at the air with first his right front foot, then his left, waving and dancing and using what little strength he had to be adorable. James said Sam was the only dog he’d ever known who’d read the “Puppy Handbook.”
It was obvious Sam was in bad shape. We wrapped him in a blanket and took him to our vet who said there was no guarantee this little man would survive, but if we hadn’t found him, he would have surely died in two or three days. That’s how fragile he was.
In addition to the worst case of heart worms the vet had ever seen, x-rays showed injuries conducive with being kicked… unmercifully. Sam’s rear hip sockets were shattered. There was nothing keeping his legs in place except somehow, the muscles had knitted themselves around his hip sockets and the top of his leg bones. It was a wonder he could walk. He was in pain with every step, but his spirit shone through. He’d been abused beyond belief, but he wanted to trust. He wanted to be loved.
Sam was terrified of most everyone, especially men, wearing black. I became the person he trusted most, and he became the light of my life. At every opportunity I would love on him and massage his rear hips and legs, then up and down his back. I think it was a form of physical therapy and together with his daily pain meds, it gave him the flexibility he needed to walk.
When we moved to the Little House in the Texas Hill Country, I liked to go outside with Sam because I loved watching him. Everything he did made my heart soar with happiness. Like a racehorse, Sam’s legs would dig into the ground and propel him forward. He would run around and around the outside of the house, then stop on a dime, look at me and grin, and turn around and run in the other direction. I loved nothing more than doing things I knew would make him feel safe and loved.
The day before he died, I cried in the car, at the gym and on the phone with the vet. When the checkout woman at Whole Foods said, “Have a nice day,” I burst into tears.
The last afternoon at the vet, Sam was scared, so I didn’t allow myself to cry. I couldn’t do anything that would scare him even further.
I sat on a mat on the floor and cradled his head in my lap. I stroked him and spoke in a soft calm voice. I told him how much I loved him and what a lucky dog he was… He was going to live with God.
“When you get there,” I said. “I want you to be a proud puppy with your head up and your tail up… Tell everyone you meet that you are the most loved little dog in the world.”
Last night I laid on his bed and out loud, for the umptieth time, said, “I love you, Sam.” My voice was small and sad. I couldn’t stop crying.
Please God… Tell me dogs go to heaven. Please tell me Sam knows how much he’s loved. Please, God… I don’t think I can bear this if you don’t.
I LOVE YOU, SAM! DON’T EVER FORGET THAT!
Thank you, Patty.
RIP Sam. So sorry for your loss Brenda
Thank you, Annette. I hope your other presentation went well.
Of course dogs go to Heaven. They come here to show us a glimpse of what being in Heaven is like.
Amen, Ellen Rice. Amen. Rest in eternal peace, Sam. You were a great boy and you knew how much you were loved by your family. Brenda, my heart breaks for you. May you feel God’s arms, and his comfort, all around you…
So sweet, Angie. Thank you! I know God’s been with me.
dogs are wonderful
I’m so sorry about Sam. What a lovely guy and what a beautiful story about saving him.
Thank you, Bonnie. I appreciate your sweet note. Brenda
I love that thought, Ellen. Thank you.
I believe Sam is still with you even though you can’t see him. Ask him to let you know that he’s ok. I’m sure he will give you signs you will recognize.
I’m trying that, Joan, but so far, no luck. Thank you.
Dear Beautiful Sam,
Thank you for bringing an abundance of joy, light, and love to Brenda. oxo May you be romping happily in heaven with a pack of beloved dogs.
A Dog Lover
He was that, Irene. So very sweet. Thank you, Brenda
Hang in their, honey. You did the most unselfish thing. You did not want Sam to hurt any more. Now he has gone to be free. Its ok. You know he is in heaven.
It was unselfish, but it was one of hardest things I’ve ever done. Thank you, Kelly.
It’s hard, so very hard to always be strong…..know you can mourn, weep, and be unbearablely sad but in turn know you gave the three most important loving beings your all. You couldn’t have loved them more nor they you. Hold on to the memories and rejoice in them. You and they have been mightily loved.
Thank you, sweet friend. xoxox, Brenda
I’m so very sorry
Thank you, Barbara. I appreciate it.
Oh Brenda, I’m so very sorry. Of course he’s in heaven. Selfless love, redemption, healing: his story has heaven written all over it. xoxo
Oh!! What a precious thing to say. Thank you, Jen. xoxox
Sam is whole and happy playing along side of all my precious fur babies. I know how hard this time is for you and I pray God gives you the peace and comfort you need until you see your Sam again. God put Sam in life and has givin you many great memories to hold on too until he puts Sam back in your arms!❤️ XXOO’s Sweet Brenda
You’re a dear…. Thank you. xoxox, Brenda
My heartfelt condolences for your loss. Sam is in Heaven.
Thank you, Susan. I like your certainty. Brenda
What a beautiful essay for a remarkable creature. I hope you keep writing about him. What a void he leaves behind. So sorry.
Thank you, Mithra! My house is empty, and my heart is empty. xoxox
Thank you, Gail.
What you did is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do in life but it’s also a blessing as it reminds us that love is our strongest emotion. Know ALL dogs go to heaven and if we love strong we will get to be with the ones we love again!
Hi Celeste! It’s great to see you here. You’re right: Love is our strongest emotion. I’m counting on God’s love to get me to heaven. Thank you, Brenda
Oh Brenda, this just broke my heart for you. I lost my beloved Jack back in 2010 and I have still not gotten over him. There are dogs and then there are dogs. I hope my Jack and your Sam are chasing rabbits running around in heaven like they own the place. Sending you healing hugs because I can see how much you are hurting right now.
I know you understand how I’m feeling, Rena, and I thank you for your sweet note. xoxox, Brenda
What a nice tribute to Sam. He was so lucky to have you for his forever family. I do believe that all animals go to heaven and that we will all be together again. This helped me deal with the death of our wonderful and much loved horse Parker. All I can say is that it will get better with time but he will be with you in your heart always. The time will come when you can think about him and not cry…….but it takes time. Hang in there.
Horses in heaven as well… I love that. I’m sorry you know what this pain feels like. Thank you, Brenda
It does get better…
I know it gets better. It’s just the getting from here to there that’s the hard part. Thank you, Melanie. Brenda
My heart aches for you and your loss, Brenda. So much loss. Trusting God’s goodness for the good He has planned for you. Keep looking up. The Lord is with you and He is near to the brokenhearted. Draw near. Praying for you!
“Draw near to God… ” One of my favorite scriptures. Thank you Beckye! xoxox, Brenda
So sorry. Sam was beautiful. You were lucky to have each other to love.
Sam was beautiful and sweet and funny. Yes, we were lucky… We were blessed to have one another. Thank you, Laureen. I appreciate your note. Brenda
I’m so sorry for your loss. Sam sounds like he was the best of friends, and those who touch our hearts, flesh or fur, stay in them forever. Big hugs xoxo
I love your comment, Donna! Thank you! I’m hoping I’ll find someone–flesh or fur–I can hold in my heart forever. xoxox, Brenda
I dropped by to express my condolences. I had to put a sick dog down after insisting repeatedly I would never put my dog down. He was so sick, having repeated seizures, shaking all the time, couldn’t walk straight. The day finally came when he couldn’t hold his head up anymore, and that’s when I let the doctor put him down. I still miss him all the time.
Even though it’s difficult to say goodbye to them, we can’t let them suffer. Saying goodbye sooner rather than later is best for them. I had to remember that. I’m sorry you know this pain. Brenda
My heart is breaking and I am crying so hard I can barely see the screen. All I know for sure is that dogs ARE heaven. xoxo to You, James, Molly and Sam.
Now I’m crying all over, again. Thank you, Holly! Dogs ARE heaven. I’ll remember that. xoxox, Brenda
My heart breaks for you, dear Brenda. No words can suffice.
Just your being here is good. Thank you, Val. xoxox, Brenda
I am so sad for you, Brenda. Our dogs are like our children, and the separation is heartbreaking. You have beautiful memories, and I hope they will bring you a bit of peace. He was definitely a gift from God! And an image of the unconditional love He has for us.
Thanks for saying that… I once asked James if he’d ever noticed that God spelled backwards was “dog.” Being the good West Texas Church of Christ boy that he was, he just said… “Let me know how that works out for you.” LOL! xoxox, Brenda
My heart cries with you …
I appreciate it that you left me a note. Thank you, Kris. Brenda
Heartbreaking, so very sorry for your loss
Thank you so much, Katrina.
My heart is breaking for you, Brenda. I know this pain too well. Just know that Sam is with Molly and James and they are looking down on you with so much love and gratitude. I wouldn’t be surprised if they send you another pup to care for and love.
Hi sweet friend… I hope you’re right. I hope they know how much they’re loved and missed and they love me back… and if they find another dog who needs a great home… Please send them my way! xoxox, Brenda
I am so sorry for your loss Brenda. Sam knew how much he was loved. What a story! We had to put our beloved dog to sleep almost two years ago, and I have said repeatedly since then that I can only hope that when my time comes that I can go as beautifully as he did. I was so afraid to make that final decision, but surrounded by love and finally released from pain, the looks we got from him were of gratitude and love, and we now enjoy memories of his good times. After much sadness you will soon be able to recall the good times and smile, knowing that Sam is safe and happy and enjoying Heaven.
I’m sorry you’ve experienced this same heartbreak, Susan, but your words comfort me. We both did the right thing for our beloved dogs, but it’s still hard, isn’t it? Thank you.
What a beautiful, beautiful boy! I know he’s in heaven. When it was time for my beloved Panda to cross the veil, I sat and held her and held her. She had been blind and deaf for a couple of years. Yet, just before she closed her eyes for the last time, her head suddenly went up and her ears pricked up and she looked to one side of her and then to the other and got so excited. I know that her sister, Muffy and her best pal Chiefy were there to show her where to go. It was such a comfort to me. All dogs go to Heaven. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be Heaven!
This is the best thing you could have told me, Diane! Thank you! Love, Brenda
So very very sorry for your loss – Unbearable pain losing our four legged friends –
Thank you. It sounds like you know what it’s like. I appreciate your note. Brenda
Oh Brenda, my heart <3 I'm so sorry dear! You have endured so much loss. Praying for comfort today! Love to you and I'm sure Sam knows how much he is loved!! Cindy xo
I Cindy!! We’ve both endured loss. Thank you for leaving your sweet note. xoxox, Brenda
Love, hugs and prayers to you! I know how tough it us to lose our precious pets! That love is like no other. Thinking of you, wishing you comfort and knowing Sam is at peace
Only someone who loves dogs understands that it’s a love like no other. Thank you, Andrea! Thank you!
So very sorry for your loss We understand
Thank you, Patricia! I’m comforted by your note. Brenda
My Dear Brenda – I am so sorry for your loss. You have been through so much! Hugs and prayers! xo
Thank you, dear friend… You’re going through a lot as well. Sending love and prayers to you, Brenda
Obviously I didn’t know Sam, but through your writing and your sharing I feel like I did. And I’m pretty sure I love him (and you). xo
Sweet Paula… Thank you! Thank you! Love you, Brenda
Please get a copy of the book Dog Heaven. It’s a beautiful picture book by Cynthia Rylant for kids and adults. It’s a very sweet and comforting story about a dog’s life in Heaven.
Janet, this looks like the best book! I just looked it up on Amazon. Thank you, sweet lady! I will surely buy this. xoxox, Brenda
Dearest Brenda, I’m so sorry to read that you’ve had to say farewell to Sam. I’m crying as I type this, but I cannot imagine the grief you must be feeling right now, you’ve been through so much. And even when we know we’re doing the right thing, that doesn’t always make it any easier, but I hope that you find some comfort knowing that Sam was so loved and is no longer in pain. Sending you much love and many, many hugs, Essie xx
Thank you, dearest Essie. I love you, Brenda
I am very sorry. To love a pet so deeply is a beautiful thing. And when a beloved pet is also witness to traumatic events in our lives, well, the bonds run even deeper. When the time comes to say goodbye to them, it’s rough and yet, we wouldn’t change anything because the time we have them in our lives is so worth the heartache. I don’t know if dogs go to heaven, but I do know they forever hold special places in our hearts. Thank you for sharing about your sweet Sam. What a beauty. Again, I’m sorry.
Thank you, Nancy! I always love it when I see your name online. You’re right… The heartache is worth all the love and the special bond we have. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda
Your pain was so raw and triggered tears…for you…for my loss months ago of my beloved Rascal. I have to believe dogs go to heaven because that sustains me.
I know, Kona… I have to believe that as well. I’m sorry. xoxox, Brenda
Can I even type with the tears streaming down my face to tell you I am so sorry for the loss of your heart once again. His spirit lives on!!
Oh, Haralee!! Thank you! I talk to him numerous times a day. I still have his bed next to my desk. He’s in my heart forever. xoxox, Brenda
Oh my God, Brenda, this was so moving. Sam sounded like a wonderful dog. He was lucky to have you and you were lucky to have him. So sorry for your loss.
Sam was the most beautiful little man. I don’t wish ill on others, but I must say I hope God takes care of the people who hurt him so badly. Sam and I were blessed to find one another. Thank you, Laurie. I appreciate your note.
After my darling Lucy died I sat for two days and ate bags of peanut butter cups and cried, unable to go outside. I made a Pinterest board dedicated to her and the Rainbow Bridge. I was an inconsolable 7 year old, not a sage adult. It had to be. They are our family. Our teachers. Our beloved. My heart is with and for you.
I’m like you, Beth. I drank a bottle of wine and ate almond butter from the spoon, as inconsolable as you were when Lucy died. I hadn’t thought of them as teachers, but they surely are. Some of our best. Thank you, dear lady. Thank you, Brenda
Perhaps it was fitting that you would be drawn to a bottle of cactus juice with a beautiful defiant canine on the lable.
I am so happy that our meeting drew me to your blog and Sams story. Be well, and I still owe you that recipe. – the bottle store guy
Hi Charles! Happy to see you here! I never would have noticed the cactus and the dog if you hadn’t pointed it out. LOL! If you’re interested, here’s a story about the night three of us drank the entire bottle of mezcal. https://1010parkplace.com/we-were-imprisoned-on-christmas-eve/ Thanks, Brenda
Oh dear Brenda, so much change for you in the last two years and so much pain. May you be consoled and at peace with the love from above and from your friends.
Thank you dear, sweet Marika… I’ve meant to touch base with you, but as you said, so much change and loss. Sending my love and prayers, Brenda