Sampson came into my life in May of 2002. After graduating college, I got a wild hair to get a dog. And it HAD to be a boxer. I got the pick of the litter and I brought him home over Memorial Day weekend of that year. He fit in the palm of my hand. And so began our love affair.
In the early days, the old man was the puppy. He chewed everything from clothes (he had a special interest in my bras from the dirty clothes), door and window frames (in my first home after being married--good thing they were remodeling base housing that year or we would have been slapped with a BIG fee), and rubber balls from Petsmart (a 99 cent ball turned into a $1000 endoscopic surgery to remove said ball). He was social (he went to doggie daycare every weekday when I worked full-time before I got married) and friendly. He kidney bean danced and stole my pillows and covers at night. It was a match made in dreamland...and then the illness came. Even with his problems, he has always known how to party.
It wasn't until 2009 that we finally broke down and had exploratory surgery to find out what was going on. He has inflammatory bowel disease. It has been a long journey through that as well as the arthritis in his spine that is pretty much fused together. We have been creative with our treatment. Acupuncture and diet change has helped immensely.
Throughout our time together, he has been my comfort, ear to listen, and shoulder to cry on through deployments, various other military separations, pregnancy, birth, two rounds of graduate school, and every part of life in between. He has been a great friend. He's gained and lost one sister (our Angel-girl), gained another sister (Daisy Duke, AKA Daisy the Crazy) and has followed me through five states. Next month, God-willing, the old man will turn 9. In dog years, that's more than I want to talk about, especially for a boxer with lots of health problems. Luckily, our unconventional medical treatment has brought back some kidney bean dancing and playfulness that remind me of his puppy days.
I often joke (sort of) with my husband that Sampson is my true love. But who else could love so unconditionally?!? One of my favorite quotes is "My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dogs already think I am." What human could be there through all of life's ups and downs and give you a kidney bean dance and a big, sloppy kiss to cheer you up on the even the worst of days? He's licked my tears. He's danced in happiness with me after a deployment or after a rough week. He really is the epitome of a best friend. Despite the financial burdens he has brought us, I feel blessed that he is MINE. And I'm glad he is mine because a man with all that love deserves a family that will nurture him--bad tummy and all. He's worth it. So, here's to Sampson--my old man. And here's to hoping he will live (happily and pain-free) to be the oldest boxer on the planet. I will continue to cherish all of the moments that he is here on earth with my family and me. And I am thankful for all that he has brought to my life from puppy that fit in my hands, to a gray-faced, sleepy old man.