Remembering an Angel


One year ago today you looked around and suddenly decided it was time to watch over me from a different world. That cold February day continues to replay, one agonizing frame at a time and still remains incredibly vivid in my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t choke up, shedding tears I know you’d lick from my face with a warm comforting tongue. I’ continue to recall the many ways you enhanced my life, as well as those whose path crossed yours. You are still so very missed…your sweet, gentle ways, that silly expression you had…and that Swiffer tail. A tail that always wagged so hard I often wondered how it didn’t lift you up off the ground.


I’ve gone through hundreds of photos taken of you over the years, fondly recalling each moment. I remember times when you ‘snoopervised’ my garden redesign by sleeping in the warm sunlight while I removed sod and reshaped the landscape and how you’d leap up flinging yourself like a slingshot, doing half gainers whenever someone walked by and asked about you. You were known as the Neighborhood Canine Concierge, welcoming all who passed by. How you’d go nuts barking at the mail lady like she was some sort of serial killer until the glass door opened and then you’d lean against her legs, looking appreciatively up into her eyes, tail wagging like crazy. You loved her and she loved you.

ELMC, West Pines Sam

Dogtor Sam
Dogtor Sam

I knew early on that your sweetness would make you the perfect candidate for therapy work but wondered if your knuckleheaded-ness could be properly channeled. Little did I know just how you’d morph into one truly amazing therapy dog. When we attended training classes, I worried if you’d ever be able to focus on this important job. And then you aced your tests, outperforming every dog in the class, and far beyond any of my expectations. My heart still swells with pride recalling how well you performed at your Canine Good Citizen certification.


Your unbridled joy to life brought so much happiness to hospital patients and staff alike, their squealing egged on your tail-wagging delight whenever you’d visit. You never knew a nurse you didn’t adore and watching you around ‘your harem’ always brought big smiles to many hearts.


The way you endeared yourself with the vet who performed the twice-a-year pet screenings. How you somehow managed to stick that long nose into faces, armpits, and other places to inhale the people you loved and how they’d giggle. I recall how you became a rock star entertaining mental health patients at West Pines by licking your chops on command, first on the left side and and then on the right; that long pink tongue slowly sliding back and forth on command all the while looking earnestly at the treats you knew you’d receive. They wondered why you would give so much of yourself for such a tiny reward. They just didn’t understand that was the essence of your spirit. You were always about giving, even to your last breath. You lived to hear the magic word…aww and then would respond as if you’d just won the biggest Lotto jackpot.


I will forever miss you leaning against my legs looking up at me with those gorgeous soulful eyes, as though you were asking, “well…what’s next, mom?” And how I often wondered if you weren’t part pogo stick because of your constant bouncing up and down, especially when I pulled down your hospital bandana when you’d go absolutely bonkers knowing we’d be heading to the hospital to meet all your fans. Even though you’d be bouncing off the walls, as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, a whole other Sam emerged. The calm, focused Sam who loved people with all his heart.


You were such an ambassador for therapy dogs, walking purposely, with such calmness, ready to brighten a weary heart and provided unparalleled love for everyone you met, with never any thought of judgment. You loved the idea of going to the hospital in the car, but I knew you hated the actual ride but were excited about the thought of making new friends every weekend we went to the hospital. It was always about getting there to share your love for people. Even if it meant riding in a car, an endeavor you did not enjoy but accepted with grace. The payback was what mattered most to you.


I recall the first time you rode in an elevator and how you had this panicked look with your legs somewhat splayed out to keep your balance. You looked to me for support encouragement to overcome the fear. But in no time, you became a champ elevator rider who made sure to say hello to everyone riding with us forgetting your fear. I’ll forever cherish our routine where we visited the staff in the reception area and the young college student you adored who would coo over you. When I asked you to say hello to her by putting your front feet up on the counter, you jumped up on top, all four feet in the center of her workspace and she gasped, “oh gosh, wasn’t expecting that!” Nor had I but we both laughed, your tail wagging furiously without any worry that you’d somehow breached good therapy dog manners. I still blush recalling my embarrassment that day yet I’m sure you thought you were supposed to get up close enough to say hi.

I also recall those times you welcomed my sometimes over-the-top grandkids with their noisy rambunctiousness and busy fingers outstretched to touch your dandelion soft hair that smelled so incredible after grooming. You were always a model around them and often far more patient than I was at times. You never shied away from any chaotic attention, always happy to be around people, and particularly children. I often wondered if you ever realized you were a dog and not a human.


My heart aches at these memories but I will always and forever be grateful of that fateful day when a colleague shared your photo with me after seeing it on a website looking to rehome you. You turned her into one of your biggest fans even though she was not a big fan of the breed initially, thinking like many others, ‘oh they’re too frou frou’ but she knew I loved the breed having owned several over the years. But none of them were anything like you. You were…special…so extraordinarily special from any dog I’ve ever know. And I saw that specialness the first day I brought you home.

So, on this first anniversary of your passing and with tears streaming down my face, I wanted to say how special you still are to me. I know you’re welcoming all pets who have crossed the Bridge this past year, showing them your joyful self because that’s just how you rolled. Know I’ll always love you and you’ll always be my heart and soul companion.


Live, love, bark! 🐾

98 thoughts on “Remembering an Angel

  1. Took me a while to read this since I kept remembering all those posts from yesteryear. Sam was an incredible and an exceptional dog and I think we all lost someone special. He was a hero, not only to you but to all of us who had the pleasure of sharing in your adventures together..

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words-it means the world to me. It’s so touching knowing that Sam made an impact to so many. ❤️ He really was a special companion and I feel very fortunate to have been able to share him with others, in person and digitally.

  2. Beautiful. Some people don’t realise how much love and joy a dog can bring. They are part of our families and lives. I hope that you and your family are OK.

    1. Thanks, Laci; he was truly the best and gave so much, every day of his life. He is terribly missed.

  3. Oh Angel Sam, you knows you are a hero to all of us, rights? You bring such love and smiles and comfort just thinkin’ abouts all the good works you did while you were down here. We knows you are barkin’ your loves and approval from the Bridge, and giving Norman tips to annoy Elsa BOL!!!!
    I’ll send your Moms some slobbery kisses and margaritas in your honor 💗
    Ruby ♥

    1. Thanks for sending our mum slobbery kisses and margritas-she definitely needs them both!
      Your furiends,
      Norman & Elsa 🐾

    1. Thanks, Jan. Yes it is very missed but consider myself so lucky to have been able to share wonderful adventures with him.

    1. Thank you for the kind message, Noodle. It’s a lot to me to know that Sam brought smiles to people both in person and digitally. Hope you and your sweet mum are doing well.

  4. Oh Monika, such a beautiful tribute to your sweet boy! He brightened our lives, too. I enjoyed seeing those pix again; but that last photo of the two of you grabbed my heartstrings and brought tears to eyes. The bond between you and Sam is eternal. He may not be with you physically, but his spirit is with you forever. I feel your pain and I hold you in a gentle hug.

    1. Thanks so much, Sue. I can picture Sam’s tail furiously wagging knowing he brightened so many. And much gratitude for your gentle hugs; they will comfort me long into the future.

    1. Thanks Jodi. You know all about this kind of loss. Know I’m sending loving thoughts of comfort your way.

    1. Thanks for those kind words. They’re the kind that would make Sam’s tail go crazy.

  5. They are all special-the “heart” ones. Kyla went out her way. That foodie was eating treats when the vet’s stuff carried her away. The melanoma she had made it so she couldn’t stand up.She was a wonderful representative of her Scottish Terrier breed, even if she was a rescue from a Mexican puppy mill.

    1. Sam went out on his own which made his exit beyond unexpected. Not sure if it’s better that way or not.

  6. Aww! You have tears in my eyes with that touching and beautiful tribute that you wrote! The pics are all great, but especially the last one, such a tender picture of love! Warm (((HUGS)))) to you! <3 and Cheers to Sam! An amazing dog!

    1. Thanks. He was the sweetest boy around. Not exactly what I’d call an intelligent dog but that sweet disposition and his ability to know what people needed from him were more than made up for it. 💙

  7. What a wonderful tribute to such a special pup. Sam will live in your heart forever. We loved reading all about how Sam touched so many people not the least of which was you.

    1. Thank you. It was my greatest joy to share him with people, both in person as well as digitally.

  8. Your dear Sam was SO special.
    We did not have the privilege of meeting him, but somehow we feel we know him through your beautiful and heartfelt tribute.
    These kinds of anniversaries are so hard, aren’t they, the first ones being the worst.

    We send you our huge virtual hugs. A ton of them.

    1. Thanks for the tons of hugs. I really needed them today. Yes, the first one is always the hardest though in Sam’s case I doubt they’ll diminish much over time.

  9. Furabuluss trib-butte to Dogto Sam…hee sure was a speck-taculur poochie doggie an so loved….Run free inn Purr Land Sam an know wee ALL still <3 <3 an miss you efurry day!!!
    **purrss** BellaDharma

    Dear Monika this is such a beautiful tribute to your Sam. He was an amzing incredible dog…so regal, so good at being a Dogtor & Therapist & being a 'knucklehead'….. I loved seeing all the photos again & remembering what a wonderful team you & Sam were.
    The last photo says it all for me. You two were/are soul mates! No doubt about that….
    (((hugs))) Sherri-Ellen

    1. Thanks, Sherri-Ellen. Yes, that last photo really encapsulated the essence of my precious boy. He was definitely one of a kind.

  10. oh Sam…. what a legacy and loss… I still have a small momento I made you Monika but felt it might not help yet.

    1. Thanks LeeAnna. That means a lot to me. Hopefully things will improve enough that we will be able to meet and catch up in person.

  11. A story …and a photograph…of pure love. Had to wipe away the tears.
    I know you miss him, think about him…but my goodness, you were lucky to have had all that love to share..

    1. Thanks so much, Helen. Yes, I was truly blessed he came into my life. Sharing him with others was one of the best things I ever did-he brought so much joy and tons of smiles to so many, including me.

  12. Monika, I know how hard this was to write, but you honored and remembered Sam so beautifully!! So many things to be proud of, so many things you both accomplished, a truly beautiful team. In the Jewish religion we say “may his memory be a blessing “, well in Sam’s case, his LIFE and memory were and are, truly blessings. Sending love and hugs 🐾🥲💔❤️❤️🐾

    1. Thank you. He was really something else, not just for me, but for countless others. He will always be missed.

  13. Big healing hugs today, my friend. This made me cry. Not a bad thing, but I know this pain. They embed themselves into our hearts and remain there forever.

    More big healing hugs. I linked this post to Awww Mondays. Angel Sam asked me to. ♥

    1. Thanks Sandee. Your ongoing and comforting support means the world to me. I smile every time I look at his box with the angel you sent.

  14. I read this lovely tribute with tears falling because it was obviously from the heart and soul – that spot we reserve for our pets who bring us such joy, pride, and wonder for as long as they are with us. What a special boy Sam was in every way. I especially love the last photo – it’s pure, honest LOVE. The very best kind.

    Hugs, Pam

    1. Thanks. That last image really displayed our relationship to a tee. He was one of the most loving dogs I’ve ever known and always brought me (and others) big smiles.

  15. Dear dear Sam and dear Monika. Words can’t describe the empathy I am experiencing for you and Sam. So I’ll just say thank you for sharing your feelings and for helping to keep Sam in the thoughts and memories of your followers. Take care and be well. 🌟

    1. Thank you, Michael for the kind words of comfort. Sharing the life and adventures of Sam extends his legacy for which I’ll always be grateful.

  16. I miss Sam too. He’s larger than life – full of pure gold. Of all the dogs we visit, more than any other, I really wanted to meet Sam and Elsa. Sending hugs and assurances that I will never forget his gentle spirit or his wisdom (I suspect he was always an old soul).

    1. Many thanks. He had the ability for people who met him to fall in love with him. Especially those who didn’t like poodles. I wish you could have met him in person; like your Bear, he was a life saver.

  17. Oh Monika, I sit here crying with you. There was no warning, no long goodbyes. He was just…gone. The world – and your world – was so much better with sweet, sweet Sam in it. You know I understand about those “extra-special” heart dogs.

    1. Yes, Lexi was your version of extra special. We are blessed with this amazing creatures and better for their being in our lives.

  18. A lovely tribute to a lovely friend Monika. I am so pleased that I was able to get to know Sam just a little via blogging. There will never be another Sam but …. a different dog with a different name and who knows what the future holds. Meanwhile, Sam is looking down and probably thinking something like “Yup. I dun gud. Woof!” 🙂

  19. Awww… I can’t see well through my tears. What a beautiful tribute, Monika. And that last photo. It sums it all up so perfectly.
    Cheers to Sam for having brought you so many years of love. He still does.

        1. Everyone one thinks theirs is the best dog and they are not wrong but he was really something special. 💔

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