Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life Lessons with Sammy

Today in my nursing class we were asked to write down five everyday experiences that we were thankful for.  My list included the following:
  • The snow capped mountains
  • Comfy covers
  • Barry's love
  • A recent patient on the cardiac ICU
  • Sammy's cheerful and faithful greeting every morning when I come home from work
Do you remember Sammy?  He's the Yellow Labrador that has brightened our lives for the past year of living here in CA.  He is really our neighbor's dog but, having both grown up with family dogs, we've enjoyed his presence so much.

Sammy would always sit outside our door while we ate meals, hoping that we would notice his forlorn and hungry eyes.  He loved food, frequently tearing green persimmons and avocados off the backyard trees and enjoying them for an afternoon snack.  A lot of my food photography has Sammy, just outside of the frame, eagerly eyeing my recent creation.  Sometimes I'd include him in the picture, just because.  Barry had a particular soft spot for Sammy and would often sneak him food.  I have never let Barry live down the time when he gave Sammy some of our precious ice cream.  Sammy loved it!

Another of his favorite pastimes was rolling from side to side on the grass.  He would roll and roll and roll with this look of pure delight on his face.  He was probably just scratching his back on the grass, but to all appearances, he was having the time of his life!

Sammy's the dog who taught me just how smart dogs really are.  He'd bring me his empty food bowl when I brought home groceries.  And on one particularly hot day, he dragged the water hose over to my feet and then looked up at me expectantly.

I've never seen such patience in a dog as I did in Sammy.  He'd lay down, put his paws across the threshold, and go to sleep, waiting for me to notice him and give him a pat on the head.  He wasn't pushy, he just asked quietly.  And that kind of asking usually spoke the loudest of all.

Sammy also helped to remind us what was truly important in life.  No matter how good or bad Barry was feeling about his studies or how stressed he was from medical school, Sammy always greeted him with a big smile and an affirming nuzzle.  When I was discouraged about my job prospects, Sammy would sit at my feet and help me ponder life.  For Sammy, life was bigger then grades and exams.  For Sammy, life was good.  And he never failed to tell us that he loved us no matter what.

Inside Sammy's body however, life was not good.  He was dying of cancer.  But each day, without fail, he would roll vigorously on the grass, trot around the backyard seeking for new ways to escape, and greet each of us as we came and went.

When I came back from class this afternoon, Sammy greeted me with those same cheery eyes.  I gave him a loving pat on the head, remembering my class assignment.  I wish I would have taken a few minutes to tell him how much joy he had brought to my life.  But I didn't.

This evening when I came home from spending time with a friend, my neighbor told me that Sammy had passed away.  No more chances to sneak him a cookie or feed him ice cream.  No more cheerful greetings at the gate.

But Sammy has taught us bigger lessons; lessons we'll try not to forget too quickly:  Life is good and the grass is green, make the most of it!  Even when all you can reach is green persimmons, chow down with enthusiasm!  Wait patiently and take a nap, things will start to look up.  And love, love unconditionally, love with cheerfulness and persistence, love even when there are no cookies or ice cream, love each and every day.

We'll try to remember, Sammy.  Thanks for all you taught us.

Barry & Christy


  1. Aww Christy, what a sweet tribute.
    Heaven will have everything we need to make us happy...
    ......Sammy, Chestnut, Blackberry.... even just the dogs make it sound wonderful!

  2. ~ heart tears and smiles ~
    And hugs for you!

  3. Aw, Sammy sounds precious. Pets really can teach us so much. Thanks for sharing your stories. Hugs.

  4. Awww, it's never easy to lose a precious pet. Thanks for sharing the wonderful lessons and pictures of a good teacher.

  5. Sounds like Sammy was a great dog, wish I could have met him!

  6. Aw, Christy - this post is a wonderful tribute to a truly wonderful dog! I'm so sorry he's gone, I know you'll miss him. The pictures speak volumes, I love them. Thank-you for sharing what he taught you. is really everything.

    p.s. I like the part when you found out how smart dogs are - it's true, they really got it goin' on.