Bye Bye, Sammy

It’s no big secret that I’ve never been much of an animal person. My brother and sister are animal lovers – or at least animal likers. Not me. As a small child, I was afraid of dogs (and must admit, dogs of unknown friendliness still scare me today). I don’t know if I became this way because there were big dogs in my neighborhood growing up, or because I grew up in town as opposed to on a farm surrounded by animals, or if it’s just the way I would be no matter where I grew up. In any case, when my older brother would peruse the classifieds for animals, he had a way of getting me excited about some of the finds he’d come across.

Sammy Sosa One Father’s Day, over fifteen years ago, I remember Adam found an ad for several purebred beagle puppies at a home about a half-hour away and the owner just happened to be a vet. After talking to mom and dad, and threatening that we’d be happy with a cat if we had to, the family (and our cousin Corissa) were on our way to check them out. When we got there, my sister Marissa (about 1 years old at the time) stayed in the vehicle with a very large box with blankets, etc. I stayed so I could watch her (but really it was because I was afraid of dogs). A while later, the family returned with a dog, whose name was “Boots”. He stood out from the rest of the puppies because he had untied my dad’s shoes.

And so, we had a puppy. On the way home, it was decided his current name was pretty lame. We changed it to “Sammy Sosa” but we’d call him “Sam” or “Sammy” most of the time. (There was no hiding it – the Greggs were Cubs fans.) He was a smart puppy, except for when he’d growl at his reflection in the dishwasher. We kept him in the kitchen, for several reasons. One of the entrances had a door, so that was always shut. The other had no door, but we laid a chair horizontally for a while, blocking his path to the carpeted living room. It was only a couple days before he figured out how to get through the legs and into the living room. Soon after, a baby gate replaced the chair. Eventually, Sam could be trusted to stay in the kitchen without the door shut or the gate.

He was apparently a hunting breed of some sort, (though, we have never been hunting and so didn’t use him for that) so he was always much taller than any other beagles we’ve met. Since Sam’s been our dog for over fifteen years (I had to think about it several times before finally deciding that had to be true – it just seems like such a long time) there have been a lot of memories. I won’t detail them all, but will just list some that come to mind.

  • He had intense strength and taking him on a walk was always him dragging you around and almost pulling your arm off
  • As a puppy, he found some baby rabbits in our yard – I’ll just repeat that he was a hunting breed and say that there were lots of tears
  • When he was small, mom would be petting him on her lap and he’d climb to her shoulder – she joked that he thought he was an eagle, not a beagle. He continued to attempt this as he got larger.
  • He was always too afraid of the stairs to go down in the basement unless there was a leash on him
  • After every train whistle you would hear a very loud, low howl coming from our dog. I could hear him from the school playground (4 blocks away) during noon recess several days a week
  • Dad had set up an extravagant outside cage area and garage cage area, equipped with a heat lamp, heated water bowl, and several variations of roofing. The outdoor cage had a complicated door system so we could let him in the cage with a leash, shut one door, take him off his leash, and shut the other door, then open the one door again. Eventually, he could be trusted without having to shut the first door
  • He used to need to be attached to a leash (which was attached to a high wire near the back entrance so he could restrictively roam) to go do his business. Eventually we could trust him to (almost always) stay in the area without a leash. Then about a year ago he darted off and happened to get hit by a police car. He hurt his leg, but bounced back pretty quickly I think.
  • Eventually he started associating going outside with getting a treat, as opposed to going to the bathroom and getting a treat – each one of us would let him out in the morning because he acted like he hadn’t been let out yet – he became a much heavier dog

The family got an email last night that Sam hadn’t been eating anything in the last week and yesterday he either wasn’t able to or wouldn’t get up from where he was laying. He had gone to the vet a few days ago and got a shot and medicine. The vet was gone yesterday and so he planned to stop by today if Sam made it through the night. Dad predicted he wouldn’t be able to make it 24 hours. We got an email this morning that he didn’t make it through the night and will be buried out at grandpa’s farm this afternoon after school. He didn’t howl or whimper, all I heard about his last day was that he sighed. Which he did a lot when he wasn’t sick.

The picture above was taken by my dad yesterday. It’s comforting to know that he doesn’t look in pain, although a little sad, and he actually *looks* a lot healthier than he has for a while. Even the cloudiness in his eyes, that had formed since I went to college, seems cleared. Notice the uneaten hot dog, which I assume has a pill in it, because that’s the only time he would get a piece of hot dog.

Bye bye Sammy. I’m sorry that I didn’t show you as much love as you deserved. You were a very good dog. I’m sure we’ll find your hair in our house for many years to come.