April 10th, 1994 - December 16th, 2009
Now forever watching over his sheep, sleeping beneath a tree, in the field where they graze.
Sam came from a Rescue Centre in Wisbech. He had been kept, as a puppy, in a one bed flat, where he was left alone all day. He was taken out for a walk, once a week. (Presumably, like the Old Queen's Bath, whether he needed it or not) Unsurprisingly, he chewed the furniture, and at 10 months, he was in a wire cage in a rescue centre, with a deep mark on his nose, where he pressed against the cage, waiting for us to come, because he knew we would.
He came to us when we still lived in a caravan on a friend's farm. He came with us when we moved, he was with us when we finally got a LandRover, and seem to understand the status in conferred upon him, a working dog. He was with us when we got our first sheep, and he worked them like an old pro. He learned to work cattle. He loved to chase mice in the vegetable garden. He ran for miles, he earned his keep, as well as our gratitude, our respect, and our love.
He retired last winter, and sat by the Rayburn, shambling out for short walks with Boo. He got arthritis, and moving became harder and more painful. Still he would follow Neil wherever he asked him to go. Long ago, he lost the sight in one eye, (herding a strimmer) and eventually, the sight in the other eye began to fail. He still enjoyed life.
Last week, his back legs began to let him down. He stopped eating, and eventually, today, he didn't want to drink. He became confused. Neil took him to the vet tonight, and he passed peacefully away, beside his boss, where he belonged.
In the dark, and the fog, and the freezing rain, he was carried back to his sheep, to the little apple orchard, where the new lambs go in spring, and buried beneath the trees.
We miss you, Sam. Thank you. Thank you for everything.
Burying a dog
There are various places in which a dog may be buried.
I am thinking now of a Setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as I am aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought.
This Setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam.
And at its proper season, the cherry tree strews petals on the green lawn of his grave.
Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub is an excellent place to bury a dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavoursome bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder.
These are good places in life or in death.
Yet, it is a small matter, for if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps.
On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppy hood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture lane where most exhilarating cattle grazed, is all one to the dog, and all one to you.
And nothing is gained, nothing is lost if memory lives.
But, there is one place to bury a dog.
If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call - come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him nor resent his coming, for he belongs there. People may laugh at you who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall...who hear no whimper, people who never really had a dog.
Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.
The one best place to bury a dog is in the heart of his master.