Sam was there every morning when I got up, he watched over our children as they were growing up, and was the constant thing throughout all of our chaos. Being a large dog we knew he would have issues with his back legs, and not live forever. However, he did us proud and lived until he was 14, which for a large dog is good. Sam had health issues towards the end, and I always vowed I would never let him suffer, however, bringing myself to make that final decision was never going to be easy.
I refused to let him go, and he continued to show his dignity and pride up until the last moments. Sam choose when to go, he did it at home in my husbands arms. This broke all of our hearts, and I never knew I could feel pain, and loss like I did. We have another dog, Charlie who was abandoned and given to us, who sensed this loss and tried to comfort me, but he will never be Sam. Don't get me wrong I adore Charlie, but the void I felt was huge, and it would take a special dog to ever fill that.
As the weeks passed the emptiness was still there, I would get up in the morning and expect to see Sam. They say that you have to go through the stages of grief to fully get over it, and I don't feel that I have reached the end of that path. People suggested getting another dog to replace Sam, which made me chuckle as NO dog would ever replace Sam. however, the idea of getting another dog was not something that I had dismissed, it just had to be the right dog.
I help one of the animal charities here, and often look at their pages of abandoned dogs, which there are thousands. None had appealed until the other day when four puppies were brought in, usual sad stories, and I was flicking through the photos, when a face looked back at me, and I knew he was the one. There was something in his eyes that reminded me of Sam, and I knew in my heart that Sam would approve. So, Max became part of our family, and he is beautiful, intelligent, and slightly nuts which allows him to fit in well!