Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering Sam

Sam joined my household in late summer, 1997. I thought TY (then 1 1/2 years old) was lonely and would enjoy a playmate. I found Sam at the Pasadena pound, where he'd been for 6 weeks already. He was 45 pounds and scrawny. They thought he was a year old and about done growing.

Based on his initial behavior and what little I heard from the pound, I suspect Sam was mostly a lawn ornament for the first year (?) of his life. He certainly didn't seem to be acquainted with the whole idea of living in a house, although he got over that in a hurry. Later in life, he made up for it by refusing to go out in the dark, in the rain, in the cold... In his last winter, he drove us (mostly Tim) just about to the edge by refusing to go out and running away and hiding if it was so much as mentioned. The last few weeks were actually better. Given that Tramadol has some anxiolytic effects, I wonder if last winter might have been easier on all of us if we'd tried treating for anxiety last year.

So Sam came home, and for the next year, every time we went to the vet, he was younger, and bigger. At one point, he tipped the scales at 75 pounds, although more recently we'd been holding his weight at about 60-65 pounds to reduce the wear and tear on his arthritic legs. We went to the vet again and again. Pan osteitis, lumbar sacral something or other, arthritis. Long before Sam got cancer, he had plenty of reasons to limp. He had an awful lot of X-rays, none of which ever showed anything correctable.

Sam was always convinced he was a lap dog. He was also a huge klutz. He'd just about knock you over, trying to get all four of his feet (not to mention the rest of the dog) into your lap. When I had my bed in Altadena against the wall, Sam would wedge himself in between me or Tim and the wall and then PUSH with all four feet against the wall, the better to minimize the possibility of even a single air molecule between himself and the human. Although TY generally liked to sleep on feet, Sam's preference was definitely for full body contact. He was by far the most reliably affectionate of our dogs.

TY and Sam never became the good friends I'd hoped they would. They would play some when it was just the two of them, but once we became a two human and three dog household, they mostly ignored each other.

Sam was always in motion. I vividly remember him and TY running circles around the living room. Sam would take a flying leap and land sideways on the BACK of the futon with his feet, take a few horizonal steps, and then be back on the floor and going for a second lap. In the yard here in Virginia, he'd pick up a tire toy and run nervous circles with it in his mouth while TY played fetch. (Sam never really mastered fetch. Getting the toy was fine, but giving it up, not so much.)

Once, taking the dogs for a walk in Seattle, we walked through a lot where they were getting ready to do some construction. Although TY and Modi managed to jump over the narrow trench (perhaps 12 inches wide), Sam managed to fall into it. He didn't just fall in, either, he managed to fall in and land on his back with all four feet flailing in the air while he tried to right himself. (He was fine.)

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