My heartdog at the bridge. I miss you so much every day. Today, you would have turned 13. The pain doesn't heal. The guilt won't go away. And you still deserve your tribute, the story of how wonderful you were.
A Tribute of Pictures and Memories for my Alienface, The Queen Diva Supreme, my Heartdog, My Sammi....
I remember years ago, flipping through photos online. I was finally ready to have a dog again and that fateful day in early 2006 was unknowingly the beginning of our adventure.
...not good with kids
...is that really a dog??
and then I saw it. The first picture that I ever saw of Sammi, taken by her foster momma, Peanut.
I was instantly in love. There was a tug at my heart that was strong and not able to be ignored. I tried. I flipped past, but always came back to her picture. "But what exactly is a greyhound," I thought. So I started reading and scouring the internet. Then I found Greytalk. My first post here was gushing about this adorable greyhound that I had spotted. I posted that one and only picture that I had so far. Soon there was a reply on my post... "I know that grey!" (Her foster mom, Peanut) I remember thinking that I was in trouble, that I killed any chance I had of adopting her because I was caught stalking a dog (I was new to the greyhound cult world, remember? )
Filling out the application, I knew without a doubt that Sammi was meant to be with me. Never in my life had I much had a preference on what color my pet was, but on her application....
Do you prefer male or female? Female
Do you have a color preference? /quick look on her profile Red-Fawn
Do you have an age preference? /glances at profile Under 5
Do you have a problem with a special needs greyhound? (Sammi had a broken leg above and below her hock) No problem, prefer one.
Seriously... I might have well just wrote "I WANT SAMMI" in red lipstick across the application
At the homecheck, Sammi walked through the door like she owned the place. DS was not yet 5, eye level to her. He hid behind the couch. Sammi proceeded to play peek-a-boo with him until he came out from his hiding place. I will never forget while Peanut and I were talking, Sammi laying next to her up on the futon, and DS came over to pet her. When he stopped petting her, she nudged his hand with her nose to get him to keep petting her. A few weeks later, I was in Peanut's home signing the paperwork with Sammi attached to my leg. She warned me that Sammi might be leery leaving with a stranger as she hands me the leash. When the front door opened, Sammi almost took me off of my feet dragging me to our car.
Upon arriving home, DS (didn't go with us) was on the futon. Sammi climbed up next to him within 15 minutes of being home.
While she was my heart dog, she took guarding my "pup" very seriously. She would cuddle with DS when he was sick. She napped with him. She would lay and listen to him read. She could hear the bus brakes and would be at the door to greet DS and give him a complete check over before allowing him to pass her.
(spooky sidenote.. that isn't Lynni in that picture, it was a foster that I always wished I could have adopted)
DS would always make sure to give her a kiss goodnight
She was the gentlest giant. Always accepting of snacks in the gentlest way possible.
Slowly DS got bigger (It happens LOL) but their bond never wavered.
We went through a lot, our little family unit. Breaking up with my fiance (I think Sammi knew he wasn't The One. She never really warmed up to him and showed no mourning when he moved out. Took over his half of the bed and that was that in her mind.) In 2008, the passing of my mother, and my brother in 2013) Moving in 2011. Meeting my now DH and her special way of letting everyone know he was THE ONE. Sammi has always been a little leery of men. Very few ever were allowed in Her Pack. This one, tho... he was special.
In 2013, Sammi got an extra special birthday present... Her Daddyman officially became part of her pack. Something she knew since the day she met him.
Sammi's health was slowly failing her over the past few years. Her back was getting weaker, causing her back legs to get weaker. It was heartbreaking to see her so full of life, yet reminded that she wasn't young any more. In 2014, we started looking for another grey, one for DH. he's never had a pet that was his own, so I was determined that he picked the next grey. As long as it got along with Sammi and our boys, it was all his decision. I had broached the topic here in Greytalk. After some looking, some PMs, and applying, we went to a M&G to meet Fostr_Mom's little foster, Lynni B. Magic happened. Instant click. For the home check, we could have a total of 3 hounds come up. I was so focused on getting DH "his dog" that I wasn't looking for myself. I picked 2 pretty girls that were in the kennel, not in homes, and thought "Hey, road trip for them!" One little girl had zero interest in anyone and anything, we weren't her people, and the other looked more out of place than anything else. Very newly retired and everything was just new to her. While Lynni is clinging to Daddyman, the 1st Brindle is by us at the table, the second Brindle found a dog bed and shyly laid down on it. Sammi, my Queen B, picked a toy out and took it to the strange grey on her bed. Lynni picked her Daddyman... Sammi was picking the grey that would have the impossible job of having to repair my heart someday soon, River Song. (As I have been struggling to write this out, River has been cuddled up to me, trying to offer comfort for a pain that won't heal) I don't know how River knew that was her job. I didn't favor her, or treat her any different than the other girls. In fact, I gave Sammi extra loving so that she wouldn't feel like she was being replaced by the new dogs. But some how, River wrapped herself around my heart and has been valiantly trying to keep it whole.
My close friend, Andrea, so perfectly summed up what a special greyhound Sammi was, "Oh Colleen! My heart goes out to you. I'm in tears. Sweet Sammi, I'll always remember you threatening Jerod as he came in the door the first time, running to hide behind Colleen, then spending the rest of our visit on my lap or leaning on me. You were the gentle dainty lady who nibbled popcorn from my girls' fingers and showed them big dogs aren't scary." (posted on my facebook page when I broke the news that Sammi was gone)
When I adopted Sammi, I had grand ideas of her becoming a therapy dog. (My mom, at the time, was the head of admissions in a nursing home). Her shyness changed that idea. Years later, tho, I realized that she was a therapy dog in her own way. If she deemed you worthy of her pack, you were a pack-mate for life. Any of her pack, if they needed comforting, she was there. When DS had his tonsils out, she slept on his bed 3 nights. When my mother was going through cancer treatments, Sammi would guard her, watch over her, when we visited. She wouldn't allow my mom to get up out of her recliner or bed unless dad or I were there. The one time that my mom's stubbornness won the war, here she comes walking down the hall. One hand on the wall, one on Sammi's shoulders. Sammi was walking patiently beside her. When mom passed away, Sammi mourned along with everyone else. She never stopped searching the house for her for months. When my stoic father would break down into tears, Sammi would quietly go to him and rest her head on his hand until he was calm again. When my best friend appeared in the middle of the night, her marriage over, her heart destroyed, Sammi cuddled with her all night letting her tears fall onto her bunny soft fur. When my father in law passed away, she comforted her Daddyman. All of us. DH's mother was guarded and comforted.
Nervous children that were shorter than her, she would quietly allow them to approach her. She taught them that not all big dogs are scary.
Sammi was one of a kind. Her heart had no limits for her pack. She would comfort for hours, guard until the night terrors stopped, and protect from any threat. Fortress was her grandfather, and she was every bit a fortress that kept her loved ones safe.
I used to have a reoccurring dream, for years, where I was walking Sammi at night on the sidewalk. A man approaches from the other direction. I stop, unsure, ready to turn around. Sammi pulls on her leash trying to get to him. I never see his face. I feel that she isn't scared of him as she is pulling us closer to him. She can tell I am scared. When we get close enough that I can tell he isn't much taller than me, Sammi stops and leans on my leg. I look down and see she is nuzzling his hand. As he starts to pet her, I look up to his face and that is where I always wake up. I stopped having that dream the first night Sammi, DS and I stayed here with DH. Sometimes I wonder if she was just an angel, and that was her mission on Earth. To keep me safe, to pee in the general direction of any male that wasn't DH and to get me safely to him.
Cuddling with Daddyman
This is my tribute to my beloved Sammi. God, do I miss you
I am hoping by posting what we went through the final day will somehow help heal the pain in my heart. That is what follows...
June 29, 2015 was a pretty normal day. By this point, Sammi is having Adaquan shots and 2 different pain medications. We have an assist harness. Shortly after adopting L&R, Sammi had another tumble on the stairs causing us to move our bedroom downstairs into the utility/gaming room. For the past few months, I had been living in a constant state of "OMG is Today the day?" with Sammi. Her crying out, collapsing, or other signs she is in pain past her threshold. Just as soon as I was sure that the moment was on us, when I would be cuddling with her whispering love and begging her to let me know, that it was okay if she was tired and wanted to go... her meds would kick in and she would be bounding around the house again with a toy hanging from her mouth. This was such a night. A warm summer night. She bounced around the living room happily after dinner with a stuffy. That night she went out, without issue and without her harness. For bedtime, she waiting patiently on her throne bed for her nighttime treat. It was a mundane, normal, summer night. I had no clue it would be the last.
June 30, 2015 was the day that changed everything. (Italics are where my guilt is just eating me alive) We had been leaving the door open to our "bedroom" open because Sammi liked to go out and stretch out on the sectional sometimes. The boys weren't home, so DH let me sleep in and left for work quietly. (Having Hashimoto's, sleep is a rare indulgence for me, but I still wonder that maybe if I hadn't been so darn lazy-as those that don't have thyroid issues call it- and tired, maybe things would have went differently if they were given their breakfasts with DH here) I wake up later than Sammi ever has let me sleep in. Something startled me awake. I look at the doorway to see Sammi quietly staring at me. When I ask her if if it was time for breakfast, she struggles to drag herself into the room and to the overstuffed chair that was my mom's and was now her throne/bed. I fly out of bed to get to her and she won't leave her chair. I try to get her "normal" routine going, I get their breakfast. Sammi still won't leave the chair. I take her breakfast to her. She turns away from it, just stairs out the window. I rush out to feed the other girls and come back in. She's lost control of her bladder & bowels and also vomited. My Pristine Queen looks so beyond shattered at her loss of control. I get her assist harness and try to help her outside. Calling DH, i am freaking out. I call my vet. I call my best friend. I call the vet back after DH texts me that he is on the way home. I get her back in, on a bed, and cleaned up. I hoped and prayed that cleaning her up would make her feel better. (I seriously thought that cleaning up her mess would magically make her better. This may have been where my mind started to shut down all rational thinking... ) She hated getting dirty and would avoid mud. I get the other 2 out to potty and call the vet while doing all of this. Once, they're inside, I peek in and Sammi is laying quietly on a bed in the living room. I stay on the porch to talk to the vet because I couldn't keep it together enough talk to the vet if I were next to her. My heartdog is in pain and I am hiding on the porch trying to form words on the phone with the vet. I should have stayed inside with Sammi. She needed me. She was alone, in pain, and I was on the phone. DH gets home and for the first, and last time, Sammi allowed him to carry her. Out to the van. The only noise she made all day was that trip out to the van, grumbling the entire way. I actually laughed at the sight of her glaring at him and grumbling in that way of hers when she was letting a minion know that She Was Not Pleased.
We get her to the vet's and I realize that I had forgotten her muzzle. The attendants bring out a stretcher for her. Sammi refuses to lay on it. She sphinxes and nothing is getting her to lay on her side. Dumb me forgot her muzzle. She would have looked like The Queen that she was, being carried by her attendants, her paws crossed, her ears alert, if it wasn't for the No-Bite muzzle they strapped on my gentle girl. I was so fixated on that stupid muzzle, but she has never bitten anyone in her life!!! I insisted on X-Rays. I needed to know. It wasn't the dreaded C. It was a collapsed disk in her spine and the 2 vertebrae on each side collapsed with it. When the vet started talking about Fentanyl and Tramadol I broke down sobbing. I knew what that combo meant. We were concerned about the boys not being able to say goodbye (one was 3 hours north, one was 3 hours south) but in the end made the decision for Sammi to go to the bridge. She was in so much pain that she didn't know where she was. I ripped the muzzle off of her after they helped me get her comfortable on a bed of blankets they brought into the exam room. Cuddled up with Sammi, I stroked her fur and tried to calm her. Tried to let her know that I was so sorry I didn't do more for her. They gave her the first shot, the one that would make her simply fall asleep. I kept stroking her fur and bouncing between apologizing for taking too long to know she was tired, talking about her boy (DS,) her greyt boyfriend Expo & her bestie Princess were waiting to play across the bridge, and how my mom and FIL would be waiting for her, to help her get to the bridge. They were huge dog lovers on Earth. I knew they would want to help as many dogs as they could up above. As she started to relax, she started freaking out. Thrashing, almost like she was seizing. I screamed for the vet. They rush in and calm her and then give her the final injection. No more time to say good bye. She was gone.
There you have it. The guilt that has been eating me alive, and the full story of that fateful summer day.
On to some random pics to help lighten the mood (to be continued....)