Monday, June 30, 2014

For Sam...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

Still with me...?
Well, that's what I get for not posting a new blog in almost a week....last post received only ⅓ of normal page views!

So those of you that have hung in there with me, thank you!

It's gonna be a hot and muggy one today...and tomorrow it's the first of July.

I have a thousand great memories surrounding the first week of July. From the annual 2 week shutdown at work as an adult (not getting one this year, launch of our new truck is going too well!). To picnics and Birthdays of friends and family. Vacations taken as a child.

But they are always tempered with sadness...

My parents divorced when I was 9, and Mom quickly remarried. The guy she married was a journeyman welder for General Motors, and an ordained Baptist Minister (more about him at a later date). He had a dog named Sam.

Sam was half beagle, half basset hound. Sam was, like all our dogs an "inside" dog. He did however have a doghouse my stepfather had built for him. It was a very nice doghouse. Shingled and insulated, fresh straw on the floor. He had even taken a Maxwell house coffee can, drilled some holes in it and used tin snips to cut petals on the upper lip so he could attach it over a 100 watt incandescent light bulb to provide heat in the winter. It had 50-60 ft. chain to attach to his collar. Strategically placed in the middle of the yard so that he could enjoy the shade of the trees but not get his chain caught on one.

Sam was my buddy! We did everything together, you know "a boy and his dog". I taught him new tricks, and we'd walk the fields near our house and run rabbits...and flush pheasants!
Though he would give me a disapproving look for not shooting them!

We had a fenced in yard, and if we were home Sam was fine. But Sam was a fence climber! Hence the reason for the doghouse...
If, as a family we were going to be gone more than 8 hrs. Sam was put outside and chained to his doghouse with a big bowl of fresh water.

One fourth of July we took a day trip to a drive through safari park in Canada. Step Dad had busied himself doing chores the first few days of vacation. Cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn, trimming the the rest of the week was rest and relax.

We were going to be gone around 14 hrs., so we fed Sam before we left....put out two big bowls of water close to the doghouse so he wouldn't knock them over, and clipped Sam to his chain.

We had a great day!!! Loved seeing all the animals!
But it had been a long hot July day.

We got home after dark, first thing I did was run out back to let my buddy in.

As I ran outside, excited to see Sam and give him a hug...I anticipated the tongue bath I was about to receive. Normally Sam would be straining against his chain in an effort to get to me...he wasn't.

He was laying on his side next to a tree...when I called him he didn't move. I ran out to him, and that's when I saw it. 

We didn't have "weed whips" back then, so rather than get out the scissor shears to cut the grass around the doghouse, step Dad would move it to mow the grass then put it back. Except this time he didn't.

When I got to Sam I saw that his chain was wrapped around the trunk of the tree...holding him there.
He didn' even raise his head when I got to him, not a wag of the tail, no recognition at all.
All he did was stare into space and pant...

The water bowls were full, he must have got tangled up shortly after we left.

I unhooked his chain, but he was too big for me to carry. 


He ran out of the house, took in the scene and scooped Sam up in his arms...

"Get all the ice cube trays and bring them up to the tub," he told me. "we have to cool him down!"

I was fast on his heels as he carried Sam upstairs, my sisters didn't know what was going on...but knew it was something bad, and started to cry. Mom joined us in the bathroom as we filled the tub with cool water and ice cubes.

We held his head up as the water rose, still senseless...instinct kicked in and his paws weakly moved trying to swim, as we laddled the cool water over him.

At that point Sam lost control of his bowels...and horror of horrors, part of his intestines came out as well.

"Call the Vet," he told my Mom. "Have him meet us, it's an Emergency!"

I stayed with Sam, pouring water on him until Mom came back.

"He can be there in 10 mins." Mom reported.

Step Dad picked Sam up out of the tub.

"You stay with your sisters..." he said to me.

"I wanna come," I whined "he's my dog..."

"I need you to stay here, and be the man of the house while we get Sam some help!" He told me.

"He's gonna be OK, right?!?" I asked hopefully.

"I don't know..." And then they were gone.

I don't know how long they were gone, it seemed like forever to my young mind.

When they got home, the girls were already asleep...I couldn't, I had to know.

They were both in tears when they came in, with Sam's collar in their hand...and I knew he was gone.

He died while the Veterinarian was examining him...extreme heat stroke. The Vet marveled that he had lasted as long as he had, like he waited for us to come home before he left.

The tears still fall as I write this...a cautionary tale!

Please, please, please do not leave your animals outside in this heat!!! Their safety is our responsibility!

Never again did we chain a pet, Step Dad sold the dog house...lesson learned too late for Sam, let it not be so for you.

I hope he forgives us, for we can not forgive ourselves!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear


  1. Words fail me. little kid me hugs little kid you.

    1. Little kid me is thankful for your friendship!

  2. That is so sad. I literally have tears running down my face. I only let my dogs out long enough to do their business and then right back in. I can see why you were so devastated. I don't think that would be something a person would ever get over. HUGS

    1. My wife noticed me tearing up as I wrote it..."What's wrong?" She asked. Hard to believe 42 yrs later it could dredge up such emotion to put it down. Thank you Kathy!

  3. I'm so sorry....i had to skim this or else risk dissolving into tears. Never, ever, ever leave animals outside. I get apoplectic when I see it.

    1. Skimming's OK to protect yourself...I understand.
      As long as the message gets out there to save someone else some pain!
      Thanks as always for stopping by JoJo!

  4. That is sad. Those hounds, they will find away to get out and then follow their nose. We had a beagle also named Sam, he ran away often. Always came back, but one day came home after being run over by a car...he did not make it.

    1. Sorry for your loss JoeH. Sam was hit once as well, he was never quite right after...the car managed to slow down but hit him in the head. We thought we would lose him then, but in a week he was back at it!

  5. so sad Joe, sorry! I hope you and Sam reunite someday at Rainbow Bridge. thanks for sharing.

  6. And you got me Joe, sad tail, I also had a similar tale from my younger days and til this day will never have a outside dog again

    1. Had some people that lived down the road have their Labrador hang himself when he jumped the fence wearing a choke collar and chained up. It's the chaining up that bothers me the most. If you have outside dogs that have access to shelter but can run free, like on a farm. That doesn't bother me. Fenced in purpose built kennels I'm not as fond of, those are basically a big cage.

  7. So sad reading this post. So sorry to read about your dog Sam. I lost a Chihuahua several years ago on July 4th just a couple of months after my job and the warehouse I worked shuttered and closed. He was only nine but had a seizure disorder.

    1. Sorry for the loss of your little pal GG! Sounds like you had a string of bad luck, glad you made it through! :-)
      Thank you for stopping in!

  8. Omg.. I am so sorry Joe.. And thanks for turning me into a bucket of tears! How am I supposed to get caught up with your posts with the sadness of this one looming over me? I'm gonna' sew for a bit and come back to catching up.. :(

    1. Sorry MiMi! Sew something pretty, that will cheer you up!!! You can empty your bucket, there won't be any more sad ones for a bit!