Sunday, August 03, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

I've been putting off writing this for a few days. This past week, I said goodbye to a loyal friend. Sammi came to our family as a rescued dog, by way of the Dutchess County SPCA and Ashley's boyfriend. She was a large lab-mix who never seemed to understand that she wasn't a lap dog. Sammi showed an extreme level of affection to my family and was always protective of us. At times, her anxieties got the better of her, and she would become hard to handle, even scratching us, or once or twice, biting someone in the process. Still, she knew when she had done something wrong, and showed us how sorry she was. She always knew when I was upset and cuddled close to try to help, and did the same with the kids. As bad as she jumped on us, she never jumped on Alec when he was small, somehow knowing that he was more fragile.

We were told once by the vet that Sammi was a very visual dog. Most dogs recognize by scent first and sight last. Sammi used her sight more he had said. This became apparent about a year ago when my brother Paul came by to visit. Paul had just gone through extensive chemo-therapy, and radiation treatment. Sammi and our Cocker Spaniel, Obi, Always loved Paul, and would go wild when he came by to visit. They say that your scent changes when you go through treatments like Paul did. Obi didn't know who he was and growled at him the whole night. Sammi, however was confused for a few seconds and then recognized him. She was so happy to see him, but was also a little more gentle that night and very clingy to him, somehow knowing what he was going through I guess. She was always such a perceptive animal.

Unfortunately, her mind started to go this year. After she had bitten a pedestrian last year, we started to get a bit nervous, but got even more nervous as she started repeatedly jumping the fence in the backyard and getting loose. this led to constant chaining or leashing when outside. You could tell she hated it, but we had no choice. Then the anxieties started. She was always nervous when there were loud noises. She would pace around during thunderstorms before, but now she started to shake, and lose control. This got so bad that I was quite sure she was going to have a heart attack one night. You could see the terror in her eyes. Convulsing, and jaw chattering. I held her most of the night, trying to calm her down, but it didn't help.

Marti had told me how bad this was, but it was hard to believe until I saw it myself. Through all of this she developed other phobias. One where she started refusing to go to the bathroom outside. Something behind the garage scared her into not wanting to go back there anymore. When Obi would cough, she would get nervous. When we dropped something on the floor she would run and hide. It was getting worse.

Marti is alone during the week and can't handle an animal like this. I can't have her in Jersey City, and Ashley can't take her to college. We can't give her to anyone because I won't lie! I have to admit that she bit two people, unprovoked, and the anxiety issues have to be revealed too. There was a farm in the country that rehabilitated animals and people together, but they would not take her either. After watching her almost die from her own terror that night, we knew there was only one thing to do.

Sammi left us quietly and peacefully this past week at the vets office. Ashley held her while she slept. Stephanie and Davey were there for support. I hope Ashley never has to do that again, but I have told her that she did the right thing. I kept telling myself that there was something else we could have done, but it kept coming back to the look in her eyes the other night, and knowing that it would be the end of her.

She left with her loved ones there. Free of anxiety and pain. I will miss her. Goodbye Sammi. Please say hi to your Uncle Paul, and keep him company. I know how much you always loved him. I know he felt the same way.

Can we go a whole year without losing someone we love now? Please?