Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Death in the Family

Samuel the Spaniel as drawn by Thor

Today has not been a good day. I can barely speak, much less write, as my tears gush. In just about an hour, I will see my beautiful beautiful eight year old Springer Spaniel, Sam, for the last time. He had a major neurological meltdown, which reared its head just about a month ago and has progressively gotten worse to the point that yesterday he was no longer able to stand, much less walk.

Sam was a gentle soul, not the sharpest claw on the paw, but the best friend and companion we could have ever asked for. Beautiful, kind, and stoic, he will be deeply missed by many especially Little Locathor. Thor understands that Sam will likely not be here when he returns from school - a homecoming that I deeply dread.

Sam was a simple soul who was born in the suburbs of Minneapolis in the town known for Spam. He loved bread, especially sourdough. It will be difficult for me to make or buy a country loaf in the near future as this dog could hear a bread knife cutting through the ceramic like crust from rooms away.

I've always had dogs in my life so I'm not a stranger to this kind of goodbye. On the first day of my senior year in high school, my family learned that my Scottish terrier Mac had cancer. We put him to sleep two days later. The night before his last day, I slept with my head on his bed, comforting only myself as he obviously knew nothing of his fate. Shortly before midnight, I woke up and wrote the following in my composition book. Please be kind, it is the work of a sad 17 year old.

I'm going to shoot the stars tonight,
shredding their light into infinite slices.
Letting each
bury themselves
into their
universal grave.

I'm going to shoot the stars tonight.
Draining the sky
of all its light.

I'm going to shoot the stars tonight,
but I'll save one for you,
a last lonely dot,
fearing the blackness of the night
and the threat of tomorrow.

September 2, 1985


Me, Sam and the future Little Locavore in vitro during better times.

As I've only gone through this before as a high schooler, if any readers have suggestions on how to help a 1st grader through this, I'd much appreciate it.


  1. I'm crying here too--that is so sad, poor little Sammy-poo! And that poem is adorably/beautifully sad.

  2. Colleen wrote: "Oh, Melissa, I am so sorry... (And I remember Mac! Xo) I wish I had some good advice... Its a loss and it will be felt - as, ironically, a natural part of life... Xoxoxoxo. "

  3. There is a sweet little book called the Fall of Freddie the Leaf. Your library probably has a copy.

    Doggies are great sources of unconditional love.
    My kids and I are still in mourning over Skippy, our Westie who passed on last spring.

    Sending lots of love and good energy to you and your family in this difficult time.
    s ;)

  4. Oh, I am so, so sorry. No words of wisdom as we've yet to cross this path with our little guy, but I'm sending strong, healing thoughts your way. Peace.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear that. I'll be thinking of you all. We went through it with two of our kitties in the last year. There's nothing easy about it. It's cliche, but Jake, Aleks and I tried to focus on celebrating all the great kitty-filled years we had.

  6. Carolyn, Thanks for your note - it's definitely lonely here. I know that for days to come, I'll uncover new traces of him that will remind me. It only gets easier right?

  7. Susan,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with me. This is exactly how I feel right now, when I sit in our living room on the couch that Sam wasn't supposed to jump on, but did. Or when I look at the empty spaces where his bed was and his food dishes were. And I hadn't even thought, ugh, of the fallen scraps that I'll now have to clean up. It's good, however, to know that we're not alone.

  8. So sorry for your loss. Thinking of you guys.

  9. Elena, Thanks for stopping by. I didn't expect that we'd have to deal with this for a few more years. That must have been so hard for Jake and Aleks.

  10. Melissa, Thanks for your kind words. We stopped by a good friend of ours last night who owns a 7 month old Springer so that Thor could play with him. Thor's still sad, but it helped to see the life cycle.

    Mrs. Q, thank you too. At least the Childhood Nutrition act passed yesterday - the day wasn't a complete disaster.

  11. My condolences Melissa. In life,and loss, there are teachable moments. Hope the Little Locacavore is OK, and that he becomes even stronger in the aftermath of this tragedy.

  12. Sorry to hear this. Thor can pet Buster anytime.

  13. Hi Melissa!
    So sorry to hear about sam.
    What an awesome drawing! Perhaps Thor could make a memory book about Sam with more of his drawings and include some fun and silly things
    that they did together.

  14. Thanks for sharing such a personal story Melissa. My family has always kept a dog and the loss hurts. Sharing memories and laughs always helped us. I like the idea of a scrap book too.

    Perhaps Thor would be willing to accept donations to Red Carrot in memory of Samuel?

  15. Mike, Thor will very much appreciate the offer.

    Sharon, it's funny. He drew that about 2 months ago and had never really spent that much time on a single drawing before. It's such a great memory.

    Steven, don't get him started . . .

  16. I'm a new reader, and I'm sorry to hear about your dog. I wish your family the best.


  17. K. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. I hope you'll stick around for happier times.

  18. Melissa,

    I just saw this post and I'm so sorry to hear about your sweet dog Sam. I had many dogs growing up and it is quite hard dealing with their passing. That is such a lovely drawing that Thor did. I second the idea of a memory book, my sister recently lost her oldest doggie (14 years old) and it was difficult. She was their first baby. Don't forget to reach out to family and friends for funny stories or photos they may have about Sam to include.

    By the way, your poem was beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.

  19. Christine, thanks for your kind words. Last weekend, we took Thor's drawing and a beautiful close up picture that our friend Amanda took to get framed. I think having those to remember him will be a start.


blog design by brooksiedesign