Life's lessons come in many shapes and sizes, but we often forget that some of the most poignant lessons we in fact learn from our four legged friends. I asked permission to post this wonderful memorial to 'A Good Dog'. It is written by Sara Lilley, Sam's two-legged best friend.
The first time I met Sam was at the breeder's huge open field of a backyard. He was in a pen with his brothers and sisters. They were all the cutest damn puppies I'd ever, ever seen. We already loved him and hadn't yet picked him out. It was love in a holding pattern, waiting; ready to burst like a broken dam. His name was Ulysses Sam Grant (to go along with the cat we had named Lincoln) and when my father put his hand down in the pen to touch one of the puppies, Sam sat down and laid his head gently in his hand. We didn't pick him. He picked us. The dam broke.
He peed on my bed. He wrecked my first really expensive headphones with one puppy bite. He got me up at 5 a.m. every single day for the first 3 months we had him. He had an obsession with stuffed animals (we called them his babies). He was food oriented and would literally do anything he possibly could for a treat. When giving him treats got out of control, we started calling them "t-words" but he figured that out even though he couldn't figure anything else out. He was dumb and scared of the stupidest things (garbage cans, for sale signs in yards, scary outside animals like raccoons or rabbits or red winged blackbirds) but he was so, so funny.
He made me laugh every single day. He was so completely desperate to please us that he was barely trained by anyone; he did it all himself. He couldn't be bad; he had to be the best dog. He was. If he did something he knew wasn't good, he would come to one of us to confess. We didn't have to scold him. 'Awful' was a code word and it was the worst thing you could possibly say. Only an awful dog would dig in the yard. He never did it again. Only an awful, awful dog would go through the hole in the fence. He never did it again. Awful dogs went on the sidewalk, so he wouldn't even look at it when he was playing in the front yard while my parents gardened.
A few Christmases ago, he got sick. I laid on the floor with him every night. Even sick, he had to sleep in my bedroom. He wheezed in his sleep, only soothed by my mouth in the fur by his ear whispering "Easy, baby. Easy, baby". It always worked, like magic. Any upset stomach nights (like when we found out he was allergic to spinach) were "Easy, baby" nights. He taught me more about words being magic than any good book I ever read. When he got better, he met me at the door after work and I knew he was over it by the look on his face. If a dog expression could say "Easy, baby" then that was it. He taught me about being selfless, when he was in pain and still pressed himself against me to keep me warm on the floor, or more recently when we knew he wasn't going to make it through the week and he still climbed the goddamn stairs to come into my bedroom and lick my hand. I needed him and he was always there.
I will miss him throwing himself against my lap and making me hold him during car rides. I will miss his soft ears. I will miss him leaning against my bed and pushing my hand so I had to wrap my arms around him and rub his chest. I will miss his high fives and fist bumps. I will miss how he hated making noise but said "I love you" in the most disgruntled tone. I will miss how he couldn't talk but he always made himself heard. I will miss his weird game where he put his head down and his butt in the air and made me touch his toes while he snorted all over everything. I will miss frantic kisses. I will miss the endless amount of love he seemed to carry effortlessly. I will miss how silly he was, how happy he was by everything, how my bed was mostly his bed with a little bit of space left over for the cats and then me.
I will miss the deep well of love I had for him when I thought I had grown cold and unable to love anything. He taught me more about how we are supposed to live life and treat each other than anything I ever taught him. He was my best friend, I told him all the time. He was a Good Dog, my Sam Dog.