I had Sammy put to sleep this morning.
She had been in our lives for sixteen terrific years.
FACT: Joanne and I “rescued” Sammy from a young stockbroker that worked for me in Los Angeles.
As I stroked Sammy’s head saying goodbye, I kept repeating, “go night night”, like I would almost every night most of her life. I knew this was soothing for her. And, I added, “Go find Maxx“. Just so you know, Maxx was our other Labrador that was with us for thirteen years /1.
Perhaps my favorite memory of Sammy (and, this happens to include Maxx as well) is a particular run the three of us took on a late winter morning on top of a bluff near our home in Louisville, CO.
NOTE: We ran a lot together. But, this effort was after a big snowstorm that people around Boulder still talk about.
The day broke crisp and clear with cobalt blue skies completely devoid of clouds. It was still and quiet and magical. There was barely a breeze. In Colorado, days like this feel warm even though it’s probably only 25 degrees.
I lifted Sammy and Maxx into the back of Joanne’s Pathfinder, and blazed a trail through the pleasant upscale streets of Louisville and fender high snow all the way up to the bluff where I had most of my favorite daily four-to-five mile runs. As soon as we were in the parking lot adjacent to the plateau that has a spectacular view of the Flatirons, the Labs were barking furiously and roughing one another up in excitement – ready to go. I threw open the rear hatch with a hearty “Hup ‘n out Tigers!” – and laughed as they hurled themselves into the deep virgin snow, bounding around the settling SUV with delirious enthusiasm.
I think the dogs always loved running with me almost as much as I savored those times with them.
The entire bluff was covered in an unblemished blanket of blindingly white/blue snow just begging for us to pile through it. In that parking lot the snow was easily up to my knees. But, just beyond in the fields, it climbed up around my thighs.
I scanned the horizon and noted with grim satisfaction that no mortal being was in sight. So, With Maxx leading the way we took off; me high stepping and loping with Sammy right at my side, hopping and bounding, all the while reproachfully barking at Maxx. The air was crisp and sweet; the sun was bright; and, nothing but high adventure lay ahead. At that moment, the three of us were in workout mode and running heaven.
We ran non-stop around the bluff for over three hours. I am guessing we covered more than twelve exhausting miles in endless circles and double-backs. The steady huff of my breathing was drowned out in my ears by the pounding of my heart, my own laughter, and the barking of Sammy when Maxx or me strayed too far (she had to investigate a great many things). We chased one another. I tackled them and threw snowballs for them to catch in their mouths. They would, in turn, charge me, and barrel around my legs.
I remember one hilarious moment when Sammy was hopping like a bunny through the drifts, and then, without warning, completely disappeared in a puff of powder. I dove in after her and pushed her through. She rounded on me to lick my face. We sat there for a moment face-to-face almost chest deep in snow considering one another. The fur around her eyes, nose and jaw-line were covered with ice. Sammy dropped down in her “stalking” stance and began “boofing” as Maxx caught up to us. They both sort of lounged into the snow panting to catch their breath and watching me. We all knew that who ever made the next move was going to get chased! I looked to the east towards the parking lot… The Pathfinder was a long snow covered mile and a half away. I quickly bent down and heaved a pile of snow at Sammy, rolled to my feet, and then took off as hard as I could in the general direction of the parking lot with my buddies in hot pursuit.
We ended that adventure sitting in the back of the Pathfinder gazing out at the Boulder Flatirons. I was satisfied and achy from a good workout. I had my arm around Maxx as he leaned into on my right side. I remember Sammy sitting to my left, occasionally licking my ear as she scanned the field for prairies dogs. A breeze picked up and ruffled her fur. She lifted her nose to check for interesting scents… I knew Joanne was at home, waiting for us, and making her famous beef stew. Life was just so perfect.
That evening Sammy and Maxx slept at Joanne’s feet, occasionally twitching through dreams of chasing rabbits (and me) by a fire in our great room, as I told Joanne about the day with my head in her lap.
As she stroked my brow, I told her it was one of the funnest days I ever had.
So long, Sammy. You are a “good girl”. Now, go find Maxx.
I sure hope it snows in Heaven some times.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
1/ This is, of course, a testament to Joanne. She is a fountain of love – and, everyone thrives being around her. I also reference Maxx, and discuss Heaven in an earlier Blog entry “Dogs and Heaven”.