7 February 1995 - 27 April 2010
When I was 20, I thought I was pretty grown up. Sure, I still lived in a dorm and didn't actually pay any of my own bills, but I was 20, so therefore, grown up. We used to volunteer at the Animal Shelter for one of our Rotaract service projects, and I absolutely fell in love with one of the dogs I took to the nursing home. In my head, I named him Bingo and we had big, big plans. I convinced my fiance at the time (who had his own apartment) to let Bingo live with him until I moved into my own apartment that summer, and then I got busy buying a collar and bed and food and all the things a little boy puppy would need. But there was just one glitch: when I went back to the Animal Shelter to adopt Bingo, he'd already found another home. That was a setback, I tell you. But not for long. There was another litter of puppies that had just come in that day, and they offered to let me look those over. So we took them all outside and sat down to get acquainted. These puppies had a Husky mommy and they weren't sure about the daddy, but they thought he was a yellow Lab. They were pretty puppies, but there was one that stood out. She played and jumped and came right to me when I called. The others just ignored me and did stupid little puppy things, and I was not impressed. I thought I'd wanted a Bingo, but apparently, what I needed for my new grown up life was a little yellow ball of fur who answered immediately to the name "Sami." (Not too old, not too young, not too silly, not too serious, not too feminine...it fit just right.) After I got to know her even better, I joked that I should have named Sami "Kitty" because she loved to pounce on her toys and use her paws like hands. (And yes, a few years later we would adopt a "Kitty" to keep Sami company when she was so lonely for Charlie.)
It was love at first sight for Sami and me, and she went everywhere I went. She was just an amazing dog...so much more than "just" a dog. My parents, who had no idea they'd be supporting a grandpup, couldn't help but fall in love with her when I took her home for the first time. Sami was the first animal to be welcomed into Mom and Dad's house, and that was HUGE. She quickly became part of my family at home, and also my family at school. She was so much a part of the family, in fact, that Lynn even left in the middle of our wedding reception to go pick up Sami and bring her to join in the fun. Lynn tied a bow around Sami's neck that matched the bridesmaids' dresses, and we have some great pictures of her at the wedding.
Life went on, and we all got older. Sami loved James and Lynn, but I was her girl...and the rest of her heart, from the beginning, belonged to Dad. He quickly claimed her as his fishing buddy (sadly, I think Sami has, in her lifetime, caught more fish than James) and took her out on the boat every weekend we were home. When we were first married, James would go out with Dad almost every weekend, and of course Sami would go, too. This went on for several years, until Dad stopped fishing. By that time, we had let Dad "borrow" Sami...it's funny how just knowing that Sami was with him gave us peace of mind. Sami was never a mommy, but she sure loved to mother all of us. And she loved, loved the kids. To Ronny's kids, I think Sami will always be "Grandpa's dog." To me, she's just Sami. But so many memories of her are tied up with Dad, for all of us.
Tuesday morning when James woke me up, I knew something was wrong. I'd had a horrible feeling all day Monday that I couldn't shake, but I thought I was just sad because it would have been Grandma's birthday. Now I wonder. Anyway, I don't want to talk so much about Tuesday morning. I'm grateful that Sami didn't lose her quality of life at the end, and that she didn't suffer terribly. She was happy up until Monday night when we fed her, and if she seemed a little more tired than usual, we chalked it up to her weekend bath & haircut (which wore her out, usually). We called the vet here who took care of Jesse for us, and they were wonderful...we couldn't have imagined a better, more peaceful way to say goodbye to Sami. She didn't even have to go into the vet's office, which, if you know Sami, she would have hated. I'm grateful for that, and I'm grateful for 15 years of unconditional love, and I'm grateful that she and Grandpa are together again. As hard as it is to know she's gone, there's some peace in that.
And lest we get too serious...I'll share my mother of the year moment. So, we didn't want to take Kayci to the vet to actually see Sami go. We sent her to school, but she knew that Sami was very sick and I'd told her to go ahead and kiss Sami and love on her a bit before she left since we had to take her to the vet since she was so sick. Kayci knew something was up. After school, Heather took Kayci to BlueBell so Noble and I went to meet them. I wanted to wait until we got home to talk to Bitty about Sami and give her a chance to take it in, ask questions. I really expected her to notice how different it felt when we drove up...Sami's absence is so big and so weird, I thought for sure she'd know when we got home. But anyway...I digress. Noble spilled some water in the car, and Kayci was upset about it. I told her, in true Kristi fashion, not to stress, not a big deal, we have bigger things to worry about. And she replied, "Yeah, like Sami dying." I'm sure my mouth fell open as I asked, "How did you KNOW?" And she looked at me crazy and said, "Know WHAT???" Crap. "Well, Bitty, Sami DID die today." So that, dear friends and family, is how Kayci learned that Sami went to Heaven. Smooth, no?
All kidding aside, saying goodbye was hard. Knowing she's gone is hard. Knowing what Aunt Susan is going through helps keep it in perspective. We had a good, long run, Sami and me. Dad said a lot of things, I know, but he always said that Sami was one in a million and that she was proof that mutts are the best dogs. I agree, Dad. She was the best.