Shortly After buying my first house in June 1994 in Federal Hill in Baltimore, I wanted to finally get a dog. Pam and I looked at all the pounds but had a hard time finding a puppy that didn't have skin problem or some annoying bark.
One weekend, we saw an ad in the paper saying lab/shepard puppies. (Craigslist didn't exist yet!) So we drove out to a house in Arbutus just off Route 1. There was a huge litter of puppies--maybe 10 puppies. Most were black and tan but one curious pup came over to Pam who also had a cute little white stripe on the side of her nose.
We told the people we wanted to think about it. So we went to McDonald's and decided yes, this seemed like a nice pup. So we drove back and they had separated this little pup and she was sitting nervously on the driveway.
We took the little pup to Petco to get some supplies. On the way there, this little 3 pound pup fell asleep on Pam's lap. This little pup turned out to only be 5 weeks old!!
We got some dog food and brought her home. She proceeded to take one piece of food at a time from her bowl in the kitchen to the living room where she would gnaw and eventually eat it.
After a few days, we still didn't have a name. Now Pam will dispute this story--but here's how it happened to me. Jason came over to visit and said, "You have to have a name... now!" So I looked at my cd collection (that's how people listened to music back then --we used something called a "5 disc cd-changer") and saw one of my albums Sam Phillip's "The Indescribable Wow" So I named her Sam as in Samantha.
Pam will come up with some crazy story about how she named her Sam.
So its my first Monday morning with this new dog "Sam" and I decide its time to walk her at the park. So I attach my new leash and take my new dog to the park. I took one step off the curb and Sam falls off the curb. She was so small she couldn't make the step! So I carried the puppy the five blocks to Federal Hill Park.
Dogs were running, people were having fun, and Sam sat there not knowing what to do. After a couple weeks I remember the day, like a proud father, that Sam could run faster than me. And thus began doggie adolescence. Sam was growing and running and would refuse to come back to me if I let her off the leash. I was late for work on a regular basis trying to catch the dog.
By late summer, Sam was making her first "bark". I use quotes because someone would come to the door and she would make the most pathetic little chrip "aaakk!"
I wasn't used to the responsibility of a dog. Jason and I were filming a mountain bike movie but I didn't want to leave the dog all day so I brought the dog in a small bag which I carried with me. She slept in that black bag wherever I went!
I also had the good fortune of working downtown and on my lunch break I went home to let out the dog.
We lived in Federal Hill until 1998 when we moved to our Hampden house. Sam was four and I was 28. We were both still pretty young. By this time Sam had accompanied us on camping trips (running up to 15 miles a day!) mountain biking and fishing trips. After a long run Sam would be totally recharged after a 30 minute nap!
At about the age of five Sam was no longer interested in playing with other dogs. Young pups wanted her attention but she wanted nothing to do with it. Sam was starting to get older. One day Jason was playing with her in the front yard and she came up lame. Of course we just blamed Jason. Its turned out this was the begining of some arthritis.
In 2004 we moved out to Stevenson, MD-- sort of in the country. She started to really slow down. We took her to the vet and it turned out she had contracted Lime's Disease. So we got her treated for that ($$$!) and she did improve slightly. This is when we started to notice that Sam would not hear us as well anymore. Pam came home one day and went all the way upstairs into the bedroom before the dog woke up! As a pup Sam would hear the tinest of noises.
By the time we moved down to Miami in 2007, Sam was almost 13 years old. Her face had grayed and here joints were swollen. She didn't have the best of times, it was difficult for her in the Miami heat.
But she soldiered on but in the last year she was diagnosed with Kidney failure, and in recent month was loosing control of her bowels.
It kind of came to a head last night when Pam was using a night light to clean up dog poop and vomit so as not to wake up the baby. It became too much. Pam had to take home the baby sick from daycare and there was more vomit and poop all over the house.
So we decided to take her to the vet and "put her to sleep". I hope Sammy will forgive us.
I like to remember her when she was young, running through the forest, finding a rotten log, and tearing it to shreds. See you on the other side Sam.