Samson 2 was born in March 2004, the same month our previous dog, Samson, passed away. Some of his brothers and sisters are pictured above in a photo the breeder sent prior to picking him out. We brought him home from the breeder in April 2004 at about six-weeks old. We began raising a puppy, a challenging time with great reward. I had no idea how much time and consistency it would take to help him grow healthy, happy, and well-behaved. He’s been our best beast ever since. His breed, the Labrador Retriever, is known for their amazing and loving temperament, and he was no exception.
I got to hold Sam on the car ride home.
When we got home, we introduced him to Ashley, our mature black lab. We had adopted her years earlier from another home. She helped train and entertain puppy Sam, as transition dogs do. She granted us time off from playing. He would climb over her and bug her. She’d look at us as if she were thinking, “What have you done?” Raising a puppy demanded time and energy from all of us.
The video below, taken on an old flip phone – pardon the low quality, demonstrates the energy Sam brought to our home. I think Ashley is safely in the background, and you can barely see her. He was a crazy spinning dog, and eventually out grew that tendency. We were grateful.
When he was new to us, he was so tiny in his crate which he soon grew to fill.
We took him to puppy training school. So many friends post photos of back-to-school moments. I was happy to capture one of Sam.
Our young grand-nieces, Brianna (in blue) and Abby (in pink), enjoyed visiting Sam.
Fast forward to now, Sam 2 is fourteen years and seven months old, outlasting the life expectancy of labs which is supposedly twelve to fourteen years. He is in his late eighties in dog years. That is old. He still eats and drinks well, shows interest in people, moves around the house and the yard, but he struggles.
At this point, he cannot hear very well. We still talk to him in complete sentences and repeat commands. Like that will work. It doesn’t, but we forget and try anyway. Getting up is difficult, more difficult some days than others, but he never gives up and works at it. That may actually keep some muscles stronger.
Sam does seem confused at times. He doesn’t always get outside to do his “business.” Almost daily we go on an “Easter egg hunt” to see where those indoor dog logs have been laid. We are comfortable with that now. It is what it is. We keep our clean-up supplies around the house: rolls of paper towels and Thieves cleaning solution in a spray bottle. We limit the rooms where he can wander. We are grateful it is usually solid waste.
We feel privileged to have shared life with this dog for so many years. He is still good company. He’s shared his gentle ways with our toddler guests. We hope he will make it very clear to us when he’s done with his work here, and then we will grant him rest. Many of you know this path we are on. You can appreciate the dread of the pending loss of man’s best friend and the heartache that will follow. We are in the good company of friends and we’ve shared those days in the past for many beloved dogs gone on.
Our young housemate, Oliver, also enjoyed time with Sam.
One of our earlier housemates, Pete, often played with Sam, as shown in this video.
In the meantime, we will enjoy him every day. We will smile when he seems to be running free in his sleep. We will giggle at his old man snoring. We will envy him for all the naps he takes. We will pet him, feed him, thank him, and make his days the best they can be. What a grand gift a good dog is to living life well! Of course when you risk loving, you risk loss. That’s OK. It’s still worth it. Good dogs are forever in our hearts.
Stay charming, my friends! Cheers for life with good pets!