I found the little love of my life twelve years ago at a shelter in Englewood, CO. I walked along the adoption alley and all the dogs were barking and jumping up on the cage doors, begging for attention- all except one. She was the saddest looking pup (about two years old) in the whole shelter. She laid on the concrete floor, as flat as a dog could be, and looked up at me only with her eyes. Her head was heavy, she was skin and bones, and covered with ticks. She had puppies, six cute little fur balls recently weaned, but her nipples still long and hanging from her abdomen.
Nobody would adopt her. She was the ugliest dog in the shelter. Her puppies were so darn cute it was a given they would receive homes. I had to take this sad momma home. I knew I could give her a good life and all the love I was capable of giving. She was a tomboy- I’d name her Sammie short for Samantha.
I loaded her into the backseat of my car and headed back to Fort Collins, where I was an undergraduate. About ten minutes into the drive, she crept her paws onto the console, and began licking my face. The depressed and flattened dog back at the kennel was coming out of her shell.
I have to admit, I wasn’t super attached to her at first. She had funny little habits that came out bit by bit, like breaking out of her kennel, getting into the trash, and fighting with my boyfriend’s dog. I kind of doubted whether we were a good match.
Boyfriends came and went, my family was broken, my living situation changed, and my school and work schedule was hard. But there was always one stable little being in my life- Sammie.
Through thick and thin – she was there. She would curl up in a little ball at the foot of my bed at night, and tippy tap around my room in the morning after first glance that my eyes were open. She was my study partner, running partner, climbing partner, my partner for life. We became inseparable.
Until yesterday. I had to put Sammie down due to an uncertain debilitating disease- likely brain cancer or a vascular problem. We found a really sweet vet in Boulder that was kind and gentle. He understood how even though I am a vet, everything changes when you’re dealing with your own pet. As empty and deeply sad as I felt to have her euthanized, it was a relief to know she was no longer suffering. She was no longer lifeless on the table, she was in the sky eating all the food she could ever want.
I am so thankful to have been able to spend so much more quality time with Sammie in her elder years. Chris loved her despite all her quirky habits and senility, and we took her everywhere we went. When she began to have trouble walking, she still loved to cruise around with us by the boulders as we climbed.
The hardest part is missing all the little things, like when chopping vegetables this morning I forgot I couldn’t give her the carrot tops. Who is going to trip me in the kitchen or clean up crumbs on the floor? I miss her cute little snore at night, and her sleepy dog smell. I miss her soft ears and the way they bounced like bat wings when she ran.
When our loved ones leave us, we are the ones that suffer the emptiness of losing them. No matter how much I realize she lived an amazing fourteen years, I am the selfish one- I miss her so deeply. I love you Slamball.