I’ve been having a hard time with the loss of our sweet dog Samantha. I still go over and over again in my head the feeling of cowardice for not getting to her. I keep imagining her scratching at our bedroom door trying to get away from the smoke and flame and me not being conscious to let her escape before it was too late. I keep imagining her blaming me for not getting to her in time to resuscitate her after she passed out from the smoke.
I have had nightmares that the firefighters were able to get her in time to save her, but when she sees me she would start to snarl and snap at me. In one of my dreams she jumps at me and bites me.
These are the feelings going through my head almost daily.
Adding to these internal stresses, are the reactions I see in my wife and daughter over the loss of Sam. I see my wife Chris break down into panic attacks thinking of Sam. I see my daughter Issa squeezing a small stuffed Lab puppy, generously given to her by a friend from school, and whispering into her ears to “talk” to Sam. I see these and it makes my heart break. I am flooded with more emotions of cowardice and disgust at myself. I rehash the thoughts of disappointment in my reactions and the utter hate of myself for not caring where Sam was as I was fleeing the smoke and flames.
I should back up a bit here and explain why this is so dramatic for me. I have always been a dog person. I grew up in a single parent home until I was 9 years old. My mom and I lived with my grandparents and uncles for most of my young life. We lived in the back woods of Florida and had tons of land for animals. My uncles were always bringing dogs home so we always had a pup around. I loved it. As a young kid having a dog is like heaven.
When my parents got married, we could not have a dog because my dad was raising money to start a church in Philadelphia as a missionary, so we traveled a lot. Then we finally moved to Philly and did not have the yard for a dog. So, even though I still loved the idea of a dogs, I was not able to actually have a pup until I married Chris and we bought our first house, THE house, eight years ago.
Sam was a rescue dog. My Mother in law, Bridgette, had found her rummaging through a dumpster near her house, wearing an old T-shirt and wrapped in a yellow rope. She couldn’t have been more than a year old, but she had already had a litter of puppies. We think she escaped from a puppy mill. Bridgette used hot dogs to lure Sam to her and took her into her home. Sam was emaciated, she had worms and mange. She entered Sam into the Houston Pet Placement League, an amazing organization that takes stray and neglected animals, sets them into foster homes and gets them adopted into loving families. Bridgette and her husband, my wife’s stepdad, decided to foster Sam until someone adopted her.
I met Sam on the first trip I ever made to Houston. Christina and I had been dating for almost a year when she decided to “take me to meet her parents.” It was a HUGE deal. I had met both of her parents years before when Chris and I were just friends, at her graduation, but I didn’t really know them that well.
I had bought an engagement ring before this trip and decided that I was gonnas ask her to marry me while we were with her family in Houston. All she knew was that I was going to have THE talk with her parents. You know THE TALK. That one where a man speaks to the woman’s’ parents and lets them know he wants to marry her. The fun thing about this experience is I had not one, but two dads to get approval from.
When we got to Houston, Sam met us at the door. She was gangly, scrawny little pup, but was so full of energy. She had this bad habit as a puppy of running at you and jumping into your legs and body slamming you with her flanks. It was a bit annoying, but also really endearing. I think I fell in love with her the first time she slammed her scrawny little butt into me.
Both Christina and I knew we wanted a dog as soon as we could get one, and both of us had fallen in love with Sam, so Chris asked Bridgette to adopt her for us. We moved to Houston after we got married, and started looking for a house. Sam became OUR dog then. She lived with us at Bridgette’s house while we were house searching. And as soon as we bought the house, we moved Sam with us.
Sam truly was a member of our family. I would often joke with my wife that I didn’t love Sam, usually when she had pooped or puked in the house. Now I wish I could take all of those jokes back. I loved my dog. She was an amazing friend. She was an amazing playmate for my daughter. I truly miss Sam.
Part of me wonders if I will ever be able to love another dog like I loved her. The same part of me wonders if I even deserve the love of another dog. I feel like I betrayed Sam’s trust and love when I didn’t get her out. I watch other dog owners with their pups, and I see the love and affection that Sam had for me and my family. I miss that feeling, and I envy that relationship. I will always miss Sam, but I think I am beginning to come around to the idea of allowing another puppy to love me, and me love her, like Sam. I love you Sam and will always hold a place for you in my heart. I hope you are having a blast in heaven. I cannot wait to see you again.