Today, I said goodbye to Samson, the dog who is the reason why Austin Lost and Found Pets exists to begin with. He was an escape artist, and loved freedom and the open road as much as he loved me. He was 17-1/2, and I would’ve gladly taken another 17-1/2 or more with him if I could.
We grew up together. He was with me for most of my twenties and all of my thirties. This past Friday was my fortieth birthday. Not many people are blessed with a pet with such longevity. I got lucky. I know.
Today was hard, but it was also good. He slept in my bed again last night, and it was much easier than the night before. He woke me up a few times. I took him into the kitchen to drink water, change his diaper and give him a snack, then we slept again for a few hours each time. I woke up this morning well rested.
I took him outside and held him up so he could mark the spot he always marked first in my neighbor’s front yard on every walk, then we hit our yard to make sure that was covered, too. Lots of sniffing. Good stuff.
I bought him a T-bone and cooked it. I cut off the meat so it could cool quickly, and he went straight for the bone before eating the rest. He ate some shrimp tails, too. Surf and turf!
We got into bed and I held him one last time. He fell asleep in my arms, legs twitching as he chased something in his dreams, I’d imagine. The alarm went off. It was time to go. I wanted a little bit more time, but knew there would never be enough.
I loaded a dog bed into the car, put him in it and made sure to bring what little was left of the bone he hadn’t finished. I rolled the windows down and he really seemed to enjoy it. He nibbled on that bone right up until his last moments. He never lost his appetite for the finer things, which is fitting, as he’s one of the finest souls I’ve ever encountered.
I cried a lot more than I expected once he was actually gone. I thought I was as ready as I could be, and I probably was. I’m pretty sure I could hear the vet crying in the other room, too. It took me longer than I thought it would to collect myself, but I did.
Saying goodbye to my best friend on my own terms, knowing I did more to take care of him over the past year and a half than many people would have, was a small consolation.
Knowing that continuing to take care of him in his discomfort instead of letting him go would have been selfish at some point was a big motivation. This was easily the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Having my best friend’s life in my hands was brutal. But I think I made the most compassionate choice I could have for him under the circumstances.
Because of my love for him and his unquenchable love of world exploration, thousands of animals have been reunited with their families and countless lives have been saved through Austin Lost and Found Pets. He definitely left his mark (pun intended) on the world.
Rest in Peace, Samson.
I’ll always love you.
What a good boy.
“Everyone thinks they have the best dog in the world, and none of them are wrong.” ?
Story and photos © Stephanie Martens.