Atta Boy!

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.


36 comments on “Atta Boy!

  1. bravelittletoaster says:

    aw catherine. so beautiful.

  2. I feel your pain – was very attached to my neighbor’s border collie Timber. I still miss that sweet dog.

  3. Elaine says:

    So sorry to hear about your sad loss. Deepest condolences at his heartbreakingly sad time. I hope you can take great comfort from the knowledge that you gave him a much needed second chance and he spent his later years surrounded by love and, from the sounds of it, having a ball x

  4. Brenda Skinner says:

    I’m very nearly broken-hearted, myself, Catherine, reading about Sam’s beautiful life and your sad loss. And you’re right: nothing prepares you for the loss of a pet even as the eventuality of it creeps up. My Lester, a very amenable and loving tuxedo cat, is nearing 18 now. I just can’t imagine a time when he won’t be with me. I hope your farewell to Sam will be just as you need it to be and top up the good memories for a long time to come.

  5. Lauren says:

    I’m so, so sorry you lost him- you can just see what a great dog he was from his eyes

  6. Pat says:

    Bless you, I know that pain. You wrote a beautiful tribute. Let yourself grieve, Sam will be with you. They never really leave. RIP Sam.

  7. Karen Alexander says:

    So sorry to hear this sad news, Catherine. I remember you saying that you loved that dog too much! My sympathies to you and Roger

  8. Dana Crowe says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear Sam.


  9. dartwalker says:

    So sorry to hear you’ve lost Sam. He certainly made up for his rough start when he ended up with you at Crockern.

    A tough decision to take and knowing it’s the best for your beloved pet never makes it any easier. Enjoy your memories of him.

  10. Annie says:

    Dear Sam, we remember him so well moving in next door to us A dear dog with expressive ears & eyes. He tolerated our cat well! Sad times for you but what a great life you have given him in Devon, after his traumatic start.

  11. I am so sad for your loss. Sam looked a beautiful dog. Blessings ❤

  12. Sheila Shepheard says:

    Good boy x

  13. Annette Hope says:

    We knew Sam when he was new to domestic life with decent humans. What a fine dog he became! You made him happy and peaceful, and he rewarded you with his loyalty and friendship. RIP

  14. Carol Assmann says:

    Holding the both of you in my heart, dear Catherine.

  15. I’m so sorry to here this news. Sam was a shining part of our walks in the South Downs. He will be missed.

  16. Sue Merrilees says:

    Dogs break your heart when they go, but memories of the love and companionship can get you through it. Eventually…and you will always remember him.

  17. codemanbc says:

    Wonderful story. You were lucky to have each other. My Cody’s ashes were transported by me and Magic to a beach in Oregon. A beautiful beach with cliffs, pine trees and huge rocks. Magic gave the container a gentle lick before Cody joined the sands of time. Your Sam was a very handsome boy. Tom and Magic

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