It was February 2002. I took the kids, who were 7 and 10 at the time, to the local “pound” to adopt a Gerbil. I left them in the small animal room that was filled with cages containing mice, gerbils and hamsters, while I wandered the halls. I was shocked by the large number of animals housed in this building. There were dozens of cats and dogs in need of homes.
I kept returning to one dog who was housed in a glass cage at the front of the building. Attached to the front of her cage were many pages of volunteer sheets dating back for several months. These sheets were full of warm praise for the dog that they called “Lady”. She was a mid-sized dog, mostly black with a white bib; a mix of Black Lab and Border Collie.
When my kids finally selected the Gerbil they wanted, we headed to the counter. It was 4:45 pm. They told us that it was too late in the day to adopt the Gerbil because an hour was needed to process the adoption. We drove home full of disappointment and angry words for a policy that seemed overly onerous for the adoption of a small animal.
But that night, I found myself telling Dan about the dog in the glass cage. I told him that she reminded me of the dog, Sam, that lived with him when he was a child. This was surprising because I have never wanted a pet dog. My family had a few dogs when I was young and none of them stayed long because we were incapable of house-training them. Each experience left me with painful and unpleasant memories.
The next day, all four of us drove up to the “pound” together. While the kids re-examined the small animals, I took Dan to see the dog they called Lady. His eyes lit up despite himself. She really did look like his family dog, Sam. We asked to see her in the “visitation room”. The kids were thrilled by this turn of events. Lady pranced with excitement, wagged her tail with her whole body, and greeted each of us with exuberance. We were all enthralled.
That was 11 years ago. Lady, who became Sam in our household, was two years old at the time. She never needed house training. She was terrible on leash but became a dog that did not need a leash. She had a child-like excitement about walks in the conservation area that never lessened with age. She greeted each one of us at the door, every day, with the same enthusiastic tail wagging that marked our first meeting. She wrestled gently with our cat, Cocoa. She was sweet and gentle with the kids. She was friendly with strangers and other dogs. She was a member of the family.
Sam passed away abruptly on June 21st at the ripe age of 13.5. We are missing her….but feeling incredibly grateful for the turn of events that brought her into our hearts and our home 11 years ago.