Remembering Sam and Other Dogs on National Dog Day

I'm a dog person—always have been and always will be. I was born this way. Even as a child, I relished the attention of our German Shepherd, King, who sailed into bed with me on dark, stormy nights. He was terrified of thunder and lightning, and I loved cradling his huge, trembling body and whispering, "Everything's going to be okay, Buddy." One day during a particularly powerful thunderstorm, he disappeared from our backyard, and we never saw him again.

I came into this world loving dogs. Here is one of the only photos I have of me and King, a German Shepherd we lost during a thunderstorm.

I came into this world loving dogs. Here is one of the only photos I have of me and King, a German Shepherd we lost during a thunderstorm.

Since King, there have been many other dogs I have loved and lost—Boaz, Bubby, Ink, Trump, Roxy, Shadow, and our beloved Daisy who we lost just after Christmas last year. My heart still aches for her.

Some people don't get it. There will always be those who walk among us who can't comprehend the love and bond between me and my animals—between human and dog. I feel pity for those people, because the world must be a dismal, colorless, miserable place for them to live each day without the presence and connection of furry companions.

Sue Rogers Davis understands the depth of which a human can love a dog. Two years ago, a photo Sue posted on Facebook caught my attention. The photo showed her black lab, Sweeney, riding in her car with her. I instantly recognized the expression on Sweeney's face. I've seen the same look on my own dogs' faces—the pure, unadulterated joy of riding around town with me. Sue had posted the photo as a memorial to Sweeney, who had died of cancer.

Sue's keepsake story details the relationship she had with another dog, Sam, when she was just nine years old. Sam was much more than a pet to her—he was her playmate, her confidante, her sibling. Sam played tag and other games with young Sue and her friends. He also followed her to school sometimes. But after Sam snapped at a classmate, Sue's family was forced to get rid of him. A little piece of Sue died the day she watched Sam leave with a stranger.

Young Sue wrote a poem to commemorate the events leading to Sam's removal—a poem Sue has kept for decades as a keepsake. "My Poem About Sam," starts on page 56 of Project Keepsake. Thank you for telling your story, Sue, and thank you for being a tireless advocate for dogs.

I tried to run after them but collapsed and cried, “No, you
can’t take him! No! This can’t be happening.”

I froze in disbelief. My mom, daddy, and uncle all went back
to doing normal everyday things, as if nothing had happened.
I wanted to shout at them, “Stop it! Things will NEVER be
the same. Things will NEVER be normal again.”

I remained on the cool ground for quite some time,
continuing to cry so hard that I wasn’t sure if I could ever stop. Eventually, I picked myself up and walked into the house—alone.

I learned later that the girl’s parents had hired an attorney to have Sam taken away.

Days passed, and I still couldn’t get Sam out of my mind. I missed him so much, and I was sure he missed me, too.

My uncle came by a few days later and said that Sam had run away. I was hopeful that he was on his way home to me. I waited and watched for him to return, but he never did.

In my grief, I wrote a poem about Sam—the first poem I ever composed. At nine, my feelings spilled all over the page.

I keep a copy of Sam’s poem as a reminder—a keepsake. When I read it, its words take me right back to that place and time. In my mind, I see a joyous Sam running, playing, and dancing with me in the yard, and then I see him leaving with a stranger, never to come back to me. I see my little body on the ground, crying and pleading for mercy. And I feel the pain and distress that I felt after losing my best friend, so many years ago.

SAM

I had a dog, his name was Sam,
He always liked to run around.
One day at school he bit a girl,
And it seemed as though,
Everything went in a whirl.
And then one day, my dad came home,
And said to me in a very low tone,
“Sue, I’m sorry to have to say
You’ve got to give ol’ Sam away.”
One day my uncle told my dad,
He knew someone who would be very glad, To take my dog away from me,
And take him to a farm so he could run free. A few weeks later I heard Bill say,
That Sam had up and run away.
No one knew where Sam had gone.
But I know one thing, he never came home.
— Sue Rogers Davis from Project Keepsake
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And since it is National Dog Day, I hope you dog people will do something special with your dog today. Take him to the park. Play catch. Give him a treat. Brush him. Kiss him. Tell him he's a good boy—or tell her what a good girl she is. Let him or her sleep on the foot of your bed tonight.

The love of a dog—and the love for a dog—is boundless. I hope you are inspired to experience it for yourself one day. Please make a donation to a local pet rescue and advocacy group and consider adopting a shelter dog.