“This is about the dog who adopted me,” writes Sukanya. She knows that he happened to her, that he helped her make wonderful memories, that she loved him so very much and always will. Here’s a heart wrenching account of how a dog walks into one’s life and how, after he has left, there remains a void, a hole.
Sampson: Dec 24, 2003 to April 10, 2016
‘April is the cruelest month.’ ~ TS Eliot
Somewhere, sometime, I must have done something very good. If we believe in karma, then this must be my good karma, and good karma gets rewarded in this lifetime. I was rewarded, and it came in the form of a fawn four legged boxer dog. How he happened I know, why he happened, I will never know. I just know that he happened to me, that he helped me to make wonderful memories, that I love him so very much and always will. I don’t know if it was destiny or fate, or just serendipity.
Why is that, that one perfect morning, after I had said goodbye to my kids and saw them off in the school bus, I was face to face with this big boxer boy. Why is that, in this huge neighborhood, with so many people this dog came across me – I, who have a weakness for boxer dogs. That morning I brought him home, I introduced him to my two other boxers, Argos and Theia. And little did I know that three years down the line, this very same dog will become a huge, huge part of my life!
Today, as I am writing this, he is no more.
Sampson belonged to Jocelyn, and that Halloween of 2012 – right after Theia had died (Argos died two years before that) – while trick or treating, we knocked at Jocelyn’s door and Sampson with his huge head was there to greet us. After some small talk, Jocelyn graciously asked if we would like Sampson to visit us – to let us have our boxer fix. And that is how it started. Sampson came for visits. Then Sampson used to come in the mornings (I was not working then) – stay with us throughout the day and return in the evenings to his mom. In my mind, I thought this was easy, he is Jocelyn’s dog – I will just like him, I will not fall in love with him – and everything will be easy. You see with love comes big pains, terrible pains…the pain of losing a dog is terrifying. For us a dog is not a dog, a dog is our family. And loving and losing a family member hurts, hurts bad…and dogs leave us before, much before – their longevity is so short. They fill our lives with love and one day they are gone, leaving a void in your heart. Time eases that pain and happy memories creep in, but that hole remains: a hole in the shape of them.
Yes, Sampson came into my life when I needed him the most. At a time when all could have gone wrong, he was there. He was there as I made the right decisions; he was there, as I made the wrong ones. He was there as shifts and changes happened. He was a big presence in my life. And I fell in love with him. Loving him was easy and I loved him so very much. Soon after he started living with us…from morning to evenings, then he started staying during the week and in weekends he would go back home. Then he started staying through weekends, then months. In the last year or so he never went back –he started staying with me, completely. And Jocelyn still remained his mom; a mom who was kind enough to share her beloved dog with me. With her big heart she realised that Sampson now has a home with kids, kids who love him, and she let him be. She loved him enough to give him up to me. While she took care of the medicals, I took care of his life. What a wonderful relation we all shared. I got my Sampson and I made friends for a life. And I became Sampson’s mother.
With Sampson my life added more meaning. Like with all my other dogs, I learnt more about patience, compassion, empathy, love. For Royina and Rohak, Sampson was more special. They had him when they were much older, and as grownups, they learnt to take care of him.
Today was a beautiful April day with mildest of mild sun and a cool breeze blowing, as we sat in our front yard we said goodbye to our Sampson. Today morning, I could feel that something is not right, but you still hope. You hope that all will be alright. That things would be as they are. Unfortunately that was not to be. Today Sampson was struggling. His gag was worse, his breathing since last night was shallow. He paced around, looking at me with those eyes which speaks volume. He lay down, his tail wagging a bit and his body was shutting down. I did not want to know, but I did – I knew my boy was slipping away. His mom, Jocelyn, her mom Terri, my friend Mark, John and Cindy… and we all were there. My friend Cindy is also a vet – a kind, compassionate one – sat with him. The Lasix shot that Cindy gave him, which was supposed to help with the fluid retention, did nothing much. One hour later, without any visible improvement, we knew and we decided. With much effort Sampson went outside and as he sat in the front yard surrounded by all he loved and who loved him, as I rubbed his paws, felt his lumps and bumps, touched his soft ears, as my eyes lingered on him, taking in all that Sampson is, was and will ever be….he was gently put to sleep.
His bowl filled with water lies, his food bowl lies empty and my hand smells of the food that I had just fed him. His bed lies empty. I hold his collar tightly close me…all that is left of him. And many, many memories that linger on. Absorbing it is not easy. It will come in spurts. As I am driving and the sun looks amazingly yellow, I will remember him. I will remember him, as I crawl into my bed. I will remember him when I am cooking and I turn around and I don’t see him. I will remember him when I am tired and sitting on my couch and my hand absent mindedly seeks him, longing to touch his soft ears, wet nose and furry body. When it gets cold and I want to tuck my feet under his warm body that is when I will remember him. I will remember him all the time. And some days, I will smile and other days I will burst into tears. And it is okay to cry for the ones you love so much. And I will miss him so much!
Sharing a poem I had written about him a while back.
There on the couch lies Sampson
He is kinda ugly and kinda han’some
All over he is white and copiously brown
His nose sniffs and his brows have a constant frown
His tail was snipped, and now it resembles a stub
When he sees us, in delight he wags his nub
His body shakes n makes shapes like kidney bean
The moment from a distance us he has seen
He steals the couch, he steals the bed
All he cares for sleep and being well fed
He sits and stares when you eat
Will not budge, till you share your meal in defeat
He sniffs each grass, when he goes for a walk
In sleep he chases rabbits and convulses in shock
He didnot belong to me , lived two houses down
But he cadged an invite and now wears our house crown
So this is Sampson a Boxer by breed
Him, a good book, in life all I need
Either I am crazy or I love him so deep
Way past midnight, writing dog poems instead of sleep.
Pix from Author
Sukanya Juno Biswas grew up in Kolkata, India. She did MA in English from Calcutta University. She loves books, Bob Dylan, Baez and Boxer dogs. When she gets time away from two human kids and two animals, she writes. A complete realist, off and on romantic, an atheist – in the present climate of uncertainty, would have loved a perfect world, though aware it’s not possible. She has been living in Texas for last 17 years.