Our oldest dog Samuel, a Maltese/Shihtzu cross is getting on in years. We found him quite unexpectedly on an unseasonably warm Mother's Day weekend in Cowichan Bay where we had met my parents for lunch. We were walking along the main strip when we came across a large wire crate parked outside a store. In it, with no protection from the sun, was a bedraggled seven-month old Samuel and an assortment of much tinier Shihtzu puppies, all attempting to play with the stoic bigger dog who stared miserably through the wire. I went in the adjacent store and asked if he was for sale and whether I could hold him. With that, the lady lifted him out and into my arms and one look into his old soul eyes and we were a family. We bundled him up in an old towel she gave us and in his last act of defiance against her, he pooped on the floor of the store. From the minute we began the hour long drive home, he settled into my arms and didn't tremble or make a sound all the way home. It was like he knew he had found a safe landing.
We later discovered on his first vet visit that he had ailments typical of severe neglect and having been left, likely in a wooded area, without proper care and attention. He had ticks, severe infections in both ears, was under-weight and the list went on. When we would let him out in the yard, he would paw desperately at the dirt, looking for bugs, as if that was the diet he was accustomed to.
From the beginning it seemed he has suffered more than his fair share of accidents and ailments, including a vicious attack by a German Shepherd in our neighbourhood who was later declared dangerous and leaving him with horrible wounds on his neck and back. Then last year a diagnosis of a form of doggy colitis that caused him significant discomfort. We landed back at the vet hospital yesterday, when the symptoms of his colitis came back with a vengeance after months of relative peace. And so another night to experience the dreadful absence of Samuel, our eternal lap dog, who is happiest with one small white paw perched gingerly on his dad's leg waiting for his tummy to be rubbed. Unapologetically, he is our child - our sweet and perfect boy. And as much as he needs us - our need for him is such that our hearts break at a day away from him - our sunshine, our eternal light.