The other day, I collected Sam’s ashes from the vet. They are in a “spreading tube” inside a box which is now sitting on top of a desk. At the foot of this desk is a rug where Sam spent many hours sleeping each day.
Two weeks ago while I was away, Roger called to tell me Sam had collapsed at the bottom of the hill and was unable to stand. His back legs failed and his quality of life rapidly diminished. We made the difficult decision to put Sam to sleep the following day.
To know Sam was to know that he was a good dog. He was a Border collie mix with long black fur, except for his little white tuxedo chest. His eyes were a golden brown and could will you to open the treat jar. He was a Jedi warrior! Well behaved, polite to strangers, loyal beyond belief and in his earlier years, an all-around amazing athlete able to jump a five-foot fence rather than being lifted over it. He could negotiate rocks, water, and other tricky terrain with ease. Sam ignored the sheep, watched over the chickens and loved his walks. He also welcomed and protected Millie and her endless supply of puppy energy.
He wasn’t always like this. Before we rescued him eight years ago, he had a rough life. He was found on the street and was scheduled to be put to sleep because he wouldn’t let anyone near him. He had a long scar on the side of his body, and an insecure, cautious approach to meeting other dogs, people and situations.
When we moved to Crockern, Sam grew in confidence. He loved his walks across the moors, and the open landscape helped him settle. Just this summer, he took two ribbons in a local dog show.
We are intending to have our own ceremony to release Sam’s ashes. The when and where are yet to be decided, but certainly on a dry and still day. I don’t wish to be standing upwind as ashes swirl about on a strong breeze. Roger and I need to decide whether we release all of him in one location? Or, will we have several locations over several days? Twenty years ago, I scattered the ashes of my dog Scratch in the bay at Provincetown. He loved it there, having spent several summers swimming in those waters. Even now, I remember my “ceremony” was all over too quickly.
Nothing prepares you for the loss of a pet, even as the eventuality of it creeps upon you with their decline. This next step of planning how we will release Sam’s ashes is heavy as it will open our grief again. As I walk past the box on top of the desk, I know that tube does not contain soft ashes as if from a campfire, but instead it holds a plastic bag of coarse sand with shards of bone. There is nothing romantic nor the least bit comforting in this thought; but, that doesn’t stop me from saying “Atta Boy Sam!” each time I pass.