Sixteen years old, our beautiful dog Sam died today. His back legs were failing him, and most other bits too. We did not want to see him suffer, so we were forced to make the hardest of decisions. I held him in my arms and he slipped quietly from this world, softly resting his head on my shoulder.
He was a great dog, expert at doing all the cool doggy stuff. He would shake with one paw and then the other, he would sit, lie down, and take food ever so gently. He adored food, and was very easy to train with treats. As a special treat for lunch today we gave him four lamb chops, it was such a joy to watch him happily devour them, his teeth never failed him. On one occasion, when we were living at a farm, he was given a whole sheep's leg to eat. In a few hours he had consumed the lot, wool, hoof, and all.
He loved to chase a stick or ball and would dive into the chilly seas around Phillip Island to fetch anything we had thrown. We had to use a two ball technique, as he never wanted to give up the prize until another one was offered. He also liked to chase rabbits, ever abundant on Phillip Island, on the one occasion he actually caught one he just crouched over it, not really sure what to do when the chase was over. In his heyday he would have given a a greyhound a run for its money. He loved to run alongside us as we rode a bike. and even kept up with a motor bike. Sam's love of running was sometimes a little to passionate for our liking. He was expert at making a sudden escape and disappearing for a days adventure. 'Sammy's done a runner", we would sigh and then go looking for him, usually without success. At the end of the day he'd return panting and smiling, and smelling of some terrible doggy cologne he'd procured from who knows where.
Sammy has been around for such a big part of our lives. At our side through births and deaths. Through celebrations and sadness. He had wise, soulful eyes, and would always be understanding and a comfort when things weren't going well. He was a constant. Already I miss his snoring on the mat and the sound of his clip clopping around the house.
Sam was a Border Collie/ cross something, we never knew. It was fun to speculate - German Shepherd, Blue Heeler, Wolf. He was very regal. He always held one ear up, whilst the other flopped, a trait he had from birth. He was a lovely, calm, gentle dog to have around our children, although I wish they had seen more of his better years.
He was always by our side in the garden, loving our company outdoors. He had a favourite spot amongst the plants to lie, which we called his nest, we even astro-turfed it to help keep him dry and comfortable. He could not be convinced on the benefits of a kennel and snubbed the one we offered him.
The goodbyes were so hard. He leaves us with such a big hole in our hearts. Our poor middle one is particularly struggling with the grief of losing a companion he has always known. The youngest Bowerbird is blissfully zen about it, as only the very young can be. I think the eldest is being strong for us all.