So long, Sam

In a perfect world we wouldn’t outlive our pets. But this world is far from perfect and today has been a sad one.

We took Sam, our proud, old English setter, to the vet today for the last time. We brought the old mutt, who I often referred to as meat head, home and buried him in the back yard.  (I’m told this is illegal where we live and I don’t care.)

The days leading up to this began early in the spring when Sam stumbled while we were out walking. We’d walked 2-3 miles when he fell in the mud while stepping from the street on to the boulevard just around the corner from our house. He seemed completely bewildered, tried to get up, couldn’t at first and just laid there, looking up at me. After a minute, he got up and slowly stumbled home.

Since then, his steps had become more and more wobbly. He fell down. A lot.  He really struggled to get his back feet underneath himself to push up. It became nearly impossible for him to climb the stairs to the bedroom, where his bed was on the floor at the foot of our bed. His left back leg just quit working. Over the weekend, I had to carry him up the stairs and then carry him outside. That he would let me do this just illustrated how bad, I think, even Sam knew things had become.

He was always independent and a bit aloof. We adopted him in 2001 — when, I think, he was 3 or 4. He had been rescued by an English setter rescue group, had been abused and was nearly starved to death. As I recall, he weighed about 30 pounds — less than half of what he weighed at the vet’s office last week.

When we got Sam, we already had Booty, an English setter we had adopted in 2000. Nancy thought Booty needed a companion. And the two dogs generally got along with each other after they quit peeing everywhere and tearing up furniture. We lost Booty in 2007.

In my opinion, the past three years with Sam were the best. He seemed less rambunctious after he realized he was the only dog in the house. And has he aged, he basically laid around and slept all of the time.

But he lived a good life for the past nine years. His bowl was seldom empty and he enjoyed being made over by practically everyone who ever met him. I’m a bit biased, I suppose, but he was a handsome mutt.

And that’s why we made the right decision even though I can’t help but second-guess myself. The vet said it was the beginning of the end. He said they could have done a lot of tests and procedures — and in the end, none of it may have helped.

I don’t think Sam would have enjoyed that. And we couldn’t bear to watch him struggle . This was the dog that — for years — slept flat on his back with his legs sticking straight up in the air. Until the past two or three years, every walk Sam and I took would start out with him straining against the least for at least 15 minutes — until he realized he couldn’t get away.

Watching him drag his butt along, trying to stand up … was more than I could stand to watch.

He often drove me crazy — especially when he would bark and bark and bark at 2 in the morning. But I’m going to miss the old meat head.