Thursday, March 15, 2012


I've been trying to work up the guts to come back say that I lost my best friend.  Yes, my best friend had 4 legs...and he's been my BEST friend through the thick and thin of the past decade.  I am so glad I have chronicled my relationship with my pups here on this blog.

Here is what I wrote on my Facebook page the day after I said goodbye...

We said our final goodbyes to Sampson last night.  Hardest thing I have ever had to do.  He was my BEST best friend over the past decade--better than I could ever have imagined when I picked up that little puppy nearly 10 years ago. I could write a dissertation-length eulogy, but the song I am posting (My Old Friend) says it better than I could right now.  So I will just say, while I have no peace and comfort now, I hope to find those by knowing his struggles are over and by remembering all of the love he received from and gave to so many others.  He taught me so much and will always be a part of me.  

"The love and the laughter, will live on long after, all of the sadness and the tears..."

Since then, I have worked through what I imagine are the stages of grief--intense anger and guilt (directed at myself), intense sorrow, and I've moved on to acceptance.  I accept that he is gone.  I accept that he lived a good life.  I accept that I did all I could.  What I can't accept, is that life really will be "okay" without him.  I'm still struggling to figure out my way and navigate adult life without my sidekick.  

I have since found comfort, as well.  Comfort from my friends and family, comfort from his medical team (yes, he had a team--a great one).  I have found peace knowing that his sweet soul will forever outlive his body.  But I still am not at peace with my loss.  I'm getting there, I think.  I started to go to a support group. But, as I told one of my dearest friends (who I met through Boxer Rescue when we were adopting Angel) that I couldn't go because I could never believe that anyone else loved their dog--their friend--as much as me.  Her response was priceless.  Mind you, this friend is the biggest animal lover I know--her house is literally dedicated to fostering homeless animals and finding them good homes.  She, herself, has lost some dear pets, including a boxer, in the past year.  She said, "I'm not sure anyone ever has loved a dog as much as you loved Sampson."  I suppose that, on top of the huge outpouring of support I received, helped me to know that Sampson knew he was loved beyond belief--and that's what truly matters.

In the time that has passed since Sampson's passing, I have also found some great outlets for my energy--including getting involved in a great organization that helps people pay for life-saving care of their pets.  I always felt one of our gifts to Sampson was the ability to handle all of his health issues.  He had the best of the best medical care--even if that meant sacrifices in other areas of our financial life.  He was worth it!  And I'm so glad that was not a guilt I had to grapple with through this process.  I am always searching for ways to share his story--to keep his memory alive.  This will get me through.

We also welcomed a new boxer boy into our home, Claymore.  I was hesitant at first, but as Buzz said, "This is just want we do.  We are dog people.  And if we're not dog people, I don't like us."  True, true.  Even after that, I was not sure I could manage another boxer.  But Sampson was partial to boxers--could pick one out of a crowd.  So we got a boxer, but one whose looks do not resemble that of Sampson.  He's a good boy.  He came from the same Boxer Rescue as Daisy and Angel.

So, today, I'm searching for closure.  I know that can't totally be achieved, but at least I can get it out here...on this I'm not "scared" to come back to it.  I am so lucky he spent his entire life with me.  He was the best.  And I carry him with me in my heart and my soul.  

I miss my Old Man...My Old Friend.  As I said in my Facebook note when I was at a complete loss for words, this song says it all...  As I told Sampson every night during our cuddle time before he drifted off to sleep, and as I told him the night I said my final "goodbyes" and "I love yous," 

Good Night, Sweet Prince.

"The love and the laughter will live on long after all of the sadness and the tears..."

Saturday, February 4, 2012


So I'm working on positive thinking...I'm ALWAYS working on positive thinking, it just doesn't always work for me.  ;)  But looking over these old posts last night brought back some memories and have given me a better sense of time in terms of Sampson's progression.  And MAYBE, just MAYBE, things aren't AS bad as I have made them out to be...  Let's take a trip back in time...

You can chronicle Sampson back to 2002, but let's start with his back problems.  It was early in 2010 when we first became aware of his spondylosis.  He was exhibiting some crazy symptoms, including some trouble with mobility.  We found that disease on x-rays--the same disease that took our Angel-girl--and we found it the same way, with x-rays for strange symptoms.  We made some adjustments--crate downstairs, better attention to gentle exercise, etc.  Because of his crazy tummy problems, we couldn't go the long-term pain meds route.  That's when we started acupuncture.  It was AMAZING.  He literally went from not being able to go up and down stairs, to RUNNING all around the back yard like a crazy man.  Good times.

I can't believe that was two years ago...

He started to regress a little bit last year--maybe springish timeframe.  I was worried.  I even had family portraits taken at our house because I began to fear if I didn't do them soon, we may not have the opportunity to take them with Sampson.  Then, all of the sudden, at the same time his left foot began to drag to the point we needed his "boot" to keep his toes from bleeding, he perked up.  I didn't get it--but I loved it.  He went back to playing like a crazy fool in the mornings, talking to me when he woke up, kidney bean dancing better than any boxer, running laps around the yard, taking steps and jumps with no problem, and kissing me with his big sloppy boxer mouth.

Until now, I didn't make the connection...

The degenerative myelopathy (DM) is what causes the foot to drag.  It is indicative of his spinal nerves "dying."  Without nerves, there's no pain.  It's painless.

This horrible disease that I curse on a daily basis, that makes my old man wobble, that makes his legs drag and cross, that renders him unable to run has taken away his pain.

Now, I'm not going to go so far as to call DM a blessing in disguise, but I will say that this connection now makes sense.  Unfortunately,  it's progressed to the point that he can't kidney bean dance for me...or run...or walk normally.  But, for a moment in time--MONTHS of time--I now believe that it gave me my Sampson back--in full strength.  It took away his spondylosis pain--pain that can be excruciating--pain that can make a dog suffer to the point that no responsible human would allow.  Maybe, just maybe, DM gave me more time with my Sampson.

Sampson in the sun, Fall 2011
On his last set of x-rays, it showed his spondylosis had progressed beyond any stretch of the imagination.  Yet, because of the DM, he can't feel it.  His spondylosis has progressed beyond the extent that Angel's reached, yet we had to let her go because of the damage it had done.  Again, I can't call DM a "blessing," but I will be thankful--putting on my positive thinking hat--that he is still here.  And he is not in pain.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Scoop of Moon-Flavored Ice Cream?

So, I'm back.  I've been here, just not *here*-here.  My writing time at the computer has been spent dissertating.  Dissertation is a dirty, dirty word to me right now.

But blogging fell by the wayside.  Lots has been going on, but I'm going to keep it short and to the point right now.  This blog started out in the "old days" of MySpace (ha!) as a place for me to write about my dogs.  Writing has always been therapeutic for me--not writing in the dissertation sense, but in the journaling sense.  And now, more than ever, I need some therapy. Sampson--my old man/my best friend--has degenerative myelopathy--more big words I have learned through Sampson's health issues.  It's not good.  Basically, the nerves in his spinal cord are dying.  (Here's a good, quick summary via the American Boxer Club: .) He is becoming paralyzed.  He has lost almost all control over his left, back leg.  But he is holding on.  He has some good times and bad times.  I think he's still happy--getting joy from food, treats, and love.  We have made some adjustments to daily life.  My heart remains heavy--in all likelihood, his spine is going to give out before the rest of his body--and that means a tough, tough decision for me.  But I know it's the right one--I just hope I know when it's the "right" time.

I found this great blog today while Googling Sampson's disease.  Great, because 1.  It made me feel like I am not alone and 2. It reminded me that maybe blogging shouldn't fall by the wayside.  I came back Moon-Flavored Ice Cream--the things that make me smile and give me the warm and fuzzies.  And I read about Sampson over the past few years.  I am glad I have a place where some of his life up until this point has been chronicled.  Maybe I should get back on that routine?

So, here I am...and I think I'll be back.  I can't promise when, the topic, or the tone.  If there is one thing Sampson has taught me, it's to be happy and enjoy the here and now.  Whether it was during a deployment or just a plain old gloomy day, he was there to make me smile--to bring me joy.  And that's the meaning of the crazy title of this, I *think* I will be able to make time for my writing therapy, with a scoop of Moon-Flavored Ice Cream.