Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Children, Family


It's pretty sad around here without Sam. 

(This is a ginormous understatement, you might even say a Bernese Mountain Dog-sized understatement.)

People have been very, very kind, in blog comments and Facebook and Twitter responses and via email and in person. The choir at church gave LP and me a copy of Cynthia Rylant's "Dog Heaven," inscribed with dear, loving thoughts. 

So in the midst of this grief, I want to name some things for which I'm thankful:

  • Community
  • Hugs
  • Friends in the neighborhood
  • Friends far away
  • Friends from far away who have gotten themselves into the neighborhood
  • Friends' Dogs
  • Dog Friends
  • Photos by people who know how to take them
  • Photos by us, even the ones taken with cell phones
  • Two 15-year-old cats who still need our attention
  • One 15-year-old girl 
  • Two young men whose love was palpable even from afar
  • Memories that make me smile

Yesterday I saw a friend's two dogs wrassling, as we used to call it, and I remembered Molly and Sam lying on the rug, showing each other their great big dog teeth, or spinning each other in a circle, their mouths on opposite ends of a big stick. I remember Sam getting between Molly and various attractive Chows, her favorite breed by far. He had a mission, to keep her out of trouble!

I'm thankful to have lived with these blessed dogs, to be blessed by them. 

Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Family, Photos


After trying all the things that veterinary oncology had to offer for a histiocytic sarcoma, we had to admit this week that Sam's tumor was not only resistant but worsening, and yesterday our vet made the hardest kind of house call, freeing him from his increasing discomfort and illness. 

It's hard to write about this today, but I want to share some pictures. Here he is the day we picked him up from his breeder.

Sam and Martha

I also want to say that he lived up to his namesake, Sam Gamgee. The breeder asked us to put an L word in his fancy, pedigreed name, and on the way home from getting him, I mentioned this to the kids. It was #1 Son who said, "Oh, that's easy. Loyal."

And that was our Sam, Rosier's Loyal Samwise Gamgee, who lived March 31, 2003 to October 29, 2010. That sounds short, and it feels short, although we know in the scheme of things for Bernese Mountain Dogs, that's longer than the average life span for the breed. 

Although he was on the shy side, Sam was a Canine Good Citizen. After we lost Molly, he went to work with me in Freeport, and even went to Sunday School there. He had a lot of friends in that congregation, and I thank them for their hospitality to both our dogs.

I also want to thank the kind folk of North Yarmouth Congregational Church for their welcome to him and their patience with me as I have nursed him. We had a Blessing of the Animals two weeks ago, and I'm glad he was still able to participate. 

I'm grateful to our dog walker, Louise, who came to the house to be with Sam, LP and me at the end, and my friend, revhoney, who extended her visit an extra day to be with us, too. The boys had a great visit with Sam a couple of weeks ago, and Pure Luck was able to get here and see him before the end, too.

I'm very thankful for the offer from my choir director, Joanne Lee, who is also a photographer, to take some pictures of Sam and me, which we did last Monday. Here's one of them. 

Sam 2 (Joanne Lee)

Sam spent most of his life keeping Molly out of trouble. So I like to think of them together again now, her mischief balanced against his loyalty, exploring the snow-covered paths of Dog Heaven, where the Greyberries surely fall plump and juicy into a good dog's mouth.

Molly and Sam 2008

Children, Family

I didn’t like my haircut.

On Wednesday, I didn't like my haircut. 

I got it on Tuesday. I love my hairdresser. LP and I go together, and she cuts LP's hair while I "process," so to speak. We discussed length, and how women my age all want to grow their hair out one last time, and how I need layers to avoid looking like a Cocker Spaniel. We discussed various minutiae and finally I said, "Just do whatever you think will be best," and she said, "I always get my way, no matter what we say."

And I didn't like my haircut. 

I spent a whole day, Wednesday, not liking it. Maybe it didn't curl enough that day, or maybe I regretted the last few haircuts, at which we let a few layers grow out further, obviously unsuccessfully, or maybe I wished I still had the longer hair of the haircut before that. 

Seriously, I don't know. Because by Thursday, haircuts seemed like the least important thing in the world. I moved around in shock; I didn't cry much, only with LP, in fact, the one person I would have liked to reassure by *not* crying in her presence.

"Snowman is okay, but…" I said these words over and over again. I'm grateful that The Father of My Children told his side of the family. I never even told my people far away, because what could they do? He's fine. Bruised, but fine. 

Thursday afternoon, the Host Mama, the mother of the friend the boys called after the late night accident, worried that he seemed lethargic, and I had a bad couple of hours until he woke up again and I could talk to him and determine that really it was the medicine he had taken making him dopey, not some hidden injury. 

I found that some people assumed I felt traumatized and others figured I was fine because he wasn't dead or in the hospital.

Do we know these things are coming, somehow? On Wednesday morning, I made sure he had his health insurance card. As we were leaving, Pure Luck said, "Be careful out there among the English," a movie reference the young one did not understand. It's not something he says often. But I gave a normal goodbye at the bus station, affectionate without being overly emotional. We've put him on that bus to Boston, whether to South Station or to Logan, many times over the past three years. There have been weather anomalies and flight delays, even a night spent stranded at O'Hare, but never a real problem. In the afternoon he sent a text–another delay, somewhere. He booked his own ticket this time, so I didn't even have the itinerary. 

He'll be 20 in a few more months.

Thank God, he will be 20.

The day unfolded as expected, and every time I looked in the mirror, I thought, "I don't like my haircut." People could tell you, I said it out loud. In the evening, I waited for the call announcing a safe arrival, figured he was having fun and had forgotten. At 8:50, I left him a voice mail. They were probably having dinner. At 10, I posted a Facebook status saying I missed him. Shortly after that the car went off the road. 

In the hospital, his friends said, "Your hair looks fine." He wears it straight up, on purpose, and although he had to pick dirt out of it until he was able to shower, the hair stood on end, just the way he likes it.

Mine, too, after those late night phone calls and two worrying days. But knowing that he is okay, I don't care anymore about my haircut.