Lord, let me be the person my dog thinks I am.
The pet-owners prayer.
Sammy was nearly 15 years old when he departed this world in our arms Saturday morning. My ex- was there with me, as she was when we brought him back from the pound in 2000.
You can even see in the pictures, Sammy was special. His lineage – a mix of Samoyed and Chow – triggers that ‘aw…’ response in the human psyche; part teddy bear, part koala bear, with a touch of wolfieness for attitude.
He made literally hundreds of friends in the several locales in which he lived, welcoming them from driveway, porch and yard space with his comehither smile and tail wag. Aggressive dogs did not intimidate him. Small dogs never felt intimidated by him. He addressed all with an air of optimistic curiosity.
He had an unusual way of looking people straight in the eye. In his later months, his arthritic walk was interpreted by others as being regal – or as a FedEx driver said, pimping it.
The day was clearly coming, but the hole in my heart is much bigger than I had expected. And it turns out my reactions are typical. I’ve heard from a hundred people the same thing – Sammy was so nice, and I miss my own dog so much too.
Someone said it’s because, unlike with most people, we can’t discuss with them their imminent demise – they are wholly dependent on us for deploying the power of life and death.
Others note that, just as our dogs are constantly monitoring our state of being, so are we constantly aware of them, even if unconsciously. And I do notice, many many many times a day, his absence.
Sammy was special? Sure, but so was your dog. And yours. Deeply unique, all of them, yet all with that capacity to love unconditionally.
And don’t tell me (us) “he’s just a dog, that’s not love.” Not buying it. There is a continuum of consciousness, and it overlaps species considerably. ‘Sam in a dog’s body’ is what we called him, and so he was.
I’ve held off writing this for several days, because I wasn’t sure what to say. I want to share my pain, but I don’t want to be all gratuitously self-involved. I also don’t want to claim my experience is unique – clearly, it’s not. And while I’d like to draw some conclusions about what it all means, I also decided not to waste the time on intellectualizing it.
I had a dear friend. He’s gone. It’s sad, very sad. And I know now, better than before, how many of you have gone there before, and know exactly what I’m feeling – and I, you.
RIP Sam, no longer in a dog’s body.