Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chasing Tennis Balls for Eternity...

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
- Unknown

Big Brother Samson

April 1996 - August 20, 2008

Yesterday, August 20, 2008, we lost a beloved family member: Big Brother Samson, our Golden Retriever. After an eight year battle with kidney failure, Mike and I had to make the gut-wrenching decision to have him put down. He had been getting slower and slower because of his advanced arthritis, and his BUN and creatinine were tripled since his visit in March. He had lost 20 lbs in the last year and was down to 54 lbs. When he was first diagnosed with kidney failure, they told us he would eventually "hit a wall" with his kidney levels and we wouldn't be able to flush out his system to lower them again. This was his wall, the day we had been dreading for years.

Mike got Samson from his friend, Steve Cloud, when he was just a puppy, because Steve wasn't able to have a large breed dog in his new rental home. I met him when he was about 6 months old, before Mike and I were even dating, and since I had grown up with chihuahuas I was not too fond of large dogs. However, like all Goldens, he really grew on me. Samson never met a stranger. There were many times we would take him to the vet or groomers, and they would rave about how sweet he was, or would say, "Oh, you have Samson? He's the sweetest dog!" He was our only child for the first five years of our marriage, and we have many fond memories of him jumping on the bed for a good wrestling match, or going to the park to throw a ball. He was an amazing friend and big brother to our children, and we do not say that lightly. It was not unusual for him to sleep outside the girls' bedroom when they were babies, or to find him curled up beside their cribs if we left the door open. I think it's safe to say he was Mike's best friend and most constant companion the last 12 years... I don't mind saying that, even as his wife, because the unconditional love and loyalty you receive from a canine companion is one not easily matched by the human variety. I'm proud to say Samson agreed to share Mike with me when he was barely a year old, and I loved him more than I can explain... with the birth of our children, he went from being our baby to officially being "Big Brother Samson", and he filled that role with all the adoration and protectiveness that you would expect from such an amazing dog. We hope our girls will always remember what a special part of our family he was.

Samson with the girls when they were only a few months old

"If there are no dogs in Heaven,
then when I die I want to go
where they went."
- Unknown

Samson was always ready and willing to let them climb all over him, even in the last painful months of his life when he wasn't feeling well.

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures;
they give unconditional love.
For me they are the role model for being alive."
- Gilda Radner

When I called Mike yesterday morning to tell him that Samson wasn't walking, and that he hadn't eaten his food the night before (again) we knew it was inevitable. Mike drove 2 hours home from Sherman, TX, to take him to the vet's office. I called my best friend, Jessica, while I waited for Mike, and she came over to love on Samson also. We got some pics of him and the kids one last time...

Aubrey and Samson

Sarah and Samson

Samson and the Aiden, Jessica & Brenden... they knew him for 8 wonderful years of his life!

We are so grateful to Colonial Park Vet Hospital for their amazing care since his diagnosis at only 4 years old. At their behest, we fed him more expensive food than we eat, which was protein-free, and it prolonged his life for 8 more years... he had excellent quality of life despite his disease, he was our miracle! He is survived by his loving human family, and his kitty-sister Jonesy and little Golden Retriever brother, Hercules. We fully believe he is in heaven with his "little old lady mutt" sister, Reagan, chasing tennis balls for eternity.

"Heaven goes by favour.
If it went by merit, you would stay out
and your dog would go in."
- Mark Twain