— Relationships —

Oh God… Sam is Gone

Sam at the vet the week before he died. Doesn't he have a beautiful face? When people would ask me what kind of dog he was I would say, 'He's part Beagle and part Walt Disney.' He looked like he could have been in 'Lady and the Tramp.'
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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.


Love, Brenda


  • Patty Grabow March 4, 2017 at 12:53 am

    So sorry…

  • Annette Findling March 4, 2017 at 2:11 am

    RIP Sam. So sorry for your loss Brenda

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you, Annette. I hope your other presentation went well.

  • Ellen Rice March 4, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Of course dogs go to Heaven. They come here to show us a glimpse of what being in Heaven is like.

    • Angie Riddell March 4, 2017 at 8:23 am

      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…

      • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        So sweet, Angie. Thank you! I know God’s been with me.

    • Bonnie K. Aldinger March 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      awwww. yes.

      dogs are wonderful

      I’m so sorry about Sam. What a lovely guy and what a beautiful story about saving him.

      • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        Thank you, Bonnie. I appreciate your sweet note. Brenda

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      I love that thought, Ellen. Thank you.

  • Joan Perticone March 4, 2017 at 5:56 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      I’m trying that, Joan, but so far, no luck. Thank you.

  • Irene March 4, 2017 at 6:02 am

    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.

    Yours Truly,
    A Dog Lover

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      He was that, Irene. So very sweet. Thank you, Brenda

  • Kelly Suzanne Fuller March 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      It was unselfish, but it was one of hardest things I’ve ever done. Thank you, Kelly.

  • Laureen Satabe March 4, 2017 at 6:43 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, sweet friend. xoxox, Brenda

  • Barbara Zimmerli March 4, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I’m so very sorry

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, Barbara. I appreciate it.

  • Jen Lawrence March 4, 2017 at 6:52 am

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      Oh!! What a precious thing to say. Thank you, Jen. xoxox

  • Debbie White March 4, 2017 at 7:18 am

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      You’re a dear…. Thank you. xoxox, Brenda

  • Susan March 4, 2017 at 7:29 am

    My heartfelt condolences for your loss. Sam is in Heaven.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you, Susan. I like your certainty. Brenda

  • Mithra Ballesteros March 4, 2017 at 7:33 am

    What a beautiful essay for a remarkable creature. I hope you keep writing about him. What a void he leaves behind. So sorry.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you, Mithra! My house is empty, and my heart is empty. xoxox

  • Gail Mandel March 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

    So sorry

  • Celeste Wall March 4, 2017 at 8:01 am

    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!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      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

  • Rena March 4, 2017 at 8:17 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      I know you understand how I’m feeling, Rena, and I thank you for your sweet note. xoxox, Brenda

  • Deborah March 4, 2017 at 8:30 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      Horses in heaven as well… I love that. I’m sorry you know what this pain feels like. Thank you, Brenda

  • Melanie Snyder March 4, 2017 at 8:45 am

    It does get better…

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      I know it gets better. It’s just the getting from here to there that’s the hard part. Thank you, Melanie. Brenda

  • Beckye March 4, 2017 at 8:47 am

    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!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      “Draw near to God… ” One of my favorite scriptures. Thank you Beckye! xoxox, Brenda

  • Laureen Dean March 4, 2017 at 9:35 am

    So sorry. Sam was beautiful. You were lucky to have each other to love.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      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

  • Donna Parker March 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      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

  • Janice | MostlyBlogging March 4, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Hi 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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      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

  • holly March 4, 2017 at 10:30 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Now I’m crying all over, again. Thank you, Holly! Dogs ARE heaven. I’ll remember that. xoxox, Brenda

  • Mamavalveeta03 March 4, 2017 at 10:32 am

    My heart breaks for you, dear Brenda. No words can suffice.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Just your being here is good. Thank you, Val. xoxox, Brenda

  • Susan Tolles March 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      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

  • Kris March 4, 2017 at 10:49 am

    My heart cries with you …

    • 1010ParkPlace March 8, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      I appreciate it that you left me a note. Thank you, Kris. Brenda

  • Katrina Perez March 4, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Heartbreaking, so very sorry for your loss

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you so much, Katrina.

  • Barbara March 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      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

  • Susan March 4, 2017 at 11:36 am

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      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.

  • Diane March 4, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    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!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      This is the best thing you could have told me, Diane! Thank you! Love, Brenda

  • Barbara Pizik March 4, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    So very very sorry for your loss – Unbearable pain losing our four legged friends –

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you. It sounds like you know what it’s like. I appreciate your note. Brenda

  • Cindy March 4, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      I Cindy!! We’ve both endured loss. Thank you for leaving your sweet note. xoxox, Brenda

  • Andrea Nine March 4, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Only someone who loves dogs understands that it’s a love like no other. Thank you, Andrea! Thank you!

  • Patricia E Wallace March 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    So very sorry for your loss We understand

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you, Patricia! I’m comforted by your note. Brenda

  • Elaine March 4, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    My Dear Brenda – I am so sorry for your loss. You have been through so much! Hugs and prayers! xo

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thank you, dear friend… You’re going through a lot as well. Sending love and prayers to you, Brenda

  • Paula Kiger March 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      Sweet Paula… Thank you! Thank you! Love you, Brenda

  • Janet March 4, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      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

  • Esther Zimmer March 5, 2017 at 3:50 am

    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

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you, dearest Essie. I love you, Brenda

  • Nancy Stordahl March 5, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Hi 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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      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

  • Kona March 5, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      I know, Kona… I have to believe that as well. I’m sorry. xoxox, Brenda

  • Haralee March 6, 2017 at 8:53 am

    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!!

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      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

  • Laurie Stone March 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      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.

  • Beth March 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    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.

    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      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

  • charles March 7, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    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

  • Marika Burton March 8, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    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.


    • 1010ParkPlace March 11, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      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

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