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What I Learned From Sam The Dog

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In memory of Sam Rondeau

I’d like to take you back 4 years when our Border Collie dog Sam was still with us.

Sam was a very intelligent, smart and active dog. He was a real live wire!

Here is Sam’s last year in his words.

What can you learn?

Hi, I’m Sam, I am 12 now, and you know what the best thing in life is?

Playing with my ball. I just love it – fetching, catching, dropping – I just don’t know when to stop. Oh and sometimes I can’t move the next day due to my aching muscles.

I love learning new tricks – I can tell the difference between different coloured balls, I can play dead, I can go to the toilet when I hear a particular command. I must know the meaning of at least 50 commands.

And I love people. I love people more than I do other dogs. When we go to the park I’m not interested in the other dogs – I like cuddles from the dog owners. It makes their dogs jealous!

I Became Unwell Very Quickly

Just over a year ago, I began to feel rather unwell and subdued. I was also drinking loads and a few nights I wet my bed!

So my owners did the normal thing and took me to the vets.

I was poked and prodded but I didn’t mind, I just laid there. In fact, it was quite nice really, I smelt lots of new smells!

My parents faces looked really worried so I thought it must be serious. I was diagnosed as being diabetic. Didn’t know what that meant so trotted off home.

That night I didn’t get my bedtime treat of a few biscuits. I thought that was a bit strange.

Next morning, I had some new strange food – it was nice, though, so I ate it all up. Then my dad stuck a needle in me and I felt this really cold liquid inside me.

What were they doing to me – I thought I’d be a good boy and get a treat! I didn’t although I did get a big cuddle – that was nice.

I Got Used To New Habits

This started to become a habit – strange food twice a day quickly followed by a needle in the neck, a cold feeling inside followed by a cuddle.

And I missed all the treats in-between meals.

After a couple of months, I noticed my eyes were not as good as they were. I could only see things when they were really close. Often my dad would throw the ball for me to catch and I would miss it – it would hit me on the nose.

I used to be the best catcher in my town!

I Could Not See

Then I woke up one day and it was just black – I couldn’t see a thing. That was scary. I just bumped into things, so I was off to a new vet. A special eye vet. It was miles and miles away – a long car journey.

We went to this new vet many times, I just got in the car and fell asleep – it was nice.

One time I was there, I had a really deep sleep, woke up and could see! I saw my mum and dad again. I could catch the ball, I could see what I was eating – not that it had changed in any way but it was nice to see if I had eaten it all.

So not only did I have needles poked in me twice a day, I had drops put in my eyes 6 times a day. But look, I could see and play and everything!

One thing I did notice though was that I was always hungry. I would look for food around the house – check the bins, look in the bedrooms, just for any crumbs of food.

What A Mistake I Made!

One day I found a tennis ball. Now I love tennis balls – I was hungry, so I ate it. That made me really, really ill. Back to the vets we went. They didn’t know I had eaten a tennis ball, they just knew I was not very well. They couldn’t find anything wrong – so they shaved off all my hair on my belly and chest and some of my sides.

my favorite lying position - at the bottom of the stairs

I looked stupid.

They then put this really cold thing on me that looked inside me and they kept me in the vets overnight. That was lonely.

Eventually the tennis ball passed through me and I was then fine.

Then you never guess what happened next. My left eye began to really hurt and back to the eye vets we went. It was really painful, that left eye, but I didn’t know how to tell them.

Luckily, they took it out, but I can still see with my right eye.

here I am with one eye!

But It Is Not That Bad…

So I have had a rather eventful year but that’s life isn’t it. You just deal with these things and get on with it. I’m still loved, get loads of cuddles, fed, played with, lots of sleep. It’s great!

This is what I have heard my owners say about me:

Sam has had to deal with a lot of change in the last year.

He has never moaned, never complained, never refused, never run away from the injections. All the vets comment they have never seen a dog so happy no matter how unwell he is!

When Sam was with us, if you gave him his ball, he was still a puppy at heart.

We learned so much from him – over and above staying calm in a crisis – accept change: it happens to you; sometimes you can’t do much about it – but just carry on, life is all about having fun and that is exactly what Sam did no matter what he had to go through.

What can you learn from Sam the Border Collie?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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44 Responses to What I Learned From Sam The Dog

  1. Joel April 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    My dog died nearly 10 years ago now, he was 16. I don’t think anyone else ever understands how much it can affect you when your own pet dies. He was more than a pet though, a member of the family. It seems like Sam was like that too, I envy the way he coped with adversity and the strength of character he showed. I’m sure you miss him but will always remember him with a smile.

    • Andrew April 21, 2011 at 9:00 am #


      I think about him everyday…and certainly with a smile.

      He was my running buddy!


  2. TrafficColeman April 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I learn to never eat a tennis ball without salt and pepper..It might taste a little better..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Andrew April 21, 2011 at 8:59 am #

      That to me…seems a really weird thing to say.


  3. David April 21, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    My dog died last year too, bitten by a snake that come to my garden, it happened so sudden. I was so sad. Anything can happen at anything time. We should always stay positive, treasure and enjoy every moment of our life, despite what is happening in our surrounding.

    • Andrew April 21, 2011 at 9:02 am #


      Really sorry to hear that.

      The sudden ’emptiness’ mus have been hard to cope with.

      Will you get another?


  4. Randy Marsh April 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    We have a Pug named Ernie. The thought of him not being with our family is hard to bare. Sam has reminded me today to accept life on life’s terms. There are some things in life that we can not control. Like Sam did, I need to see the blessings I still have today..

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:42 am #


      Nice to see you here.

      I agree we cannot control…many things.

      Sam loved every day no matter what we had to put him through.


  5. Corinne Edwards April 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Dear Andrew –

    Your story will touch many hearts.

    It was almost the story of my treasured Doberman.

    I used to take him out to do his duty in my car. Carried him in and then back in. His legs would not allow him to walk very far.

    He was so brave. And at the end when he started having “accidents,” he was so ashamed. You could just tell.

    He had to be put down at the end. He was 11. The vet said that was the usual life span of a large dog.

    He said they called them the “hearbreak dogs.”

    But I still think about him and it has been many years.

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:45 am #


      Your treasured Doberman sounds similar to Sam.

      If he had an accident, he would look at us and say, “Honest…I didn’t mean it!”…and of course, he didn’t.

      I must think about Sam every day.


  6. Johannis Kraut April 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm #


    You made me said in this afternoon..I remembered the dog I had when I was younger and he did not have a very happy ending unfortunately… But, as with all matters of life, we should cherish the memories, because everything has an ending..

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:39 am #


      Sorry to make you sad but you are right…memories make all the difference.

      We have many videos of Sma – perhaps I should add a few here on the blog.


  7. Lance April 22, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    I’m sure this was a challenging year for you…to see Sam go through all of this.

    Still, this story reminds me that, like Sam, we always have the choice of what our attitude will be. And that is something so worth remembering…so worth doing…

    Thanks for sharing this very touching story.

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:47 am #


      I do like your view on ‘choice.

      We forget that we do have a choice in most things we do.


  8. Petra April 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    This brought a tear (or two) to my eyes. What a wonderful, sweet story. I’ve experienced pets dying before, but it always happened suddenly, never prolonged over the course of a year. Sam seemed like he was a fighter, though!

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:43 am #


      Sam still loved life to the full…every day…no matter what we put him through.

      He would still play like a puppy when we got his ball out!


  9. Dennis Edell April 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    A statement and question in that order…

    Holy crap you musta bought the vet a new beach house and car to match.

    How often did you trip over Sam at the bottom of the stairs..don’t lie. lol

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:46 am #


      Well…we had insurance and everything was covered.

      Yeah – the bottom of the stairs was his fav place to lie. When we jumped over him, he wouldn’t move a muscle.


      • Dennis Edell April 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

        Vet insurance? Seriously? I don’t mean to go off topic, but I don’t remember ever hearing of such a thing.

        • Joel April 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm #


          I was surprised when I came to the US so very few people had pet insurance, especially with the high cost of vet bills over here. It’s very common in the UK.


          • Dennis Edell April 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

            Very interesting. I think I need to pass this info on, thanks. 🙂

  10. Dennis Edell April 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Forgot to subscribe to comments..

  11. Alex April 22, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I bet that was a sad time for you, Andrew.

    I think we can learn from Sam that whatever life throws at us we have to get up and get the most of it. We shouldn’t feel down, even if it seems that life wants a fight.

    I like the way you impersonated Sam, and how he liked cuddles 😀

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 7:48 am #


      It was sad…for the whole family. Sam was part of ours…just like most pets are.

      He did like a cuddle and so did we!


  12. Patricia April 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Hi Andrew

    We had a handsome border collie. The loss is hard. He was a running mate and so loyal. He was full of adventure and no matter what, was always there to greet when we arrived home.

    Loyalty is so precious. Whether we scolded him for yet another hole in the back garden to hide his bone or praised him for coming when we called. He stuck by my side through bad times and good. No questions asked, just loyal to the end.

    I have now had the privilege of making friends from some of my blogging buddies. Their help and loyalty to my biz ventures blow me away.

    They offer help without me even asking and are there when I get stuck….with another mysterious techie task LOL

    They accept my shortcomings and praise my achievements. What would I do without them?! They make this journey so enjoyable and memorable.

    And they stick by me through it all. There’s no competition, just collaboration and lots of laughter and fun as we all help each other on the road to success.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Beat Schindler April 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      Your testimonial about your pet’s loyalty, and about your blogging buddies is inspirational. I’ve got an inkling it says more about you than about your friends :-] PS. Congrats to your lavender’ed-blog and gr8 Alexa ranking.

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 8:44 am #


      Sam was my running buddy as well and he was so loyal.

      Towards the end of his life, he couldn’t run with me anymore.

      I had to go on my own…it wasn’t the same.

      As I have said before…what you have achieved with your relationships is amazing.


  13. janet naraja April 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    I also have a dog and she’s very lively.
    I always take photos of her together with my other siblings and we love her sooooo much..
    We have to admit that things come and go on this earth.I guess that the only lesson there is for us to give the love and care that we can give to our pets as long as they’re alive and with us.. So that when they’re gone, good memories would stay for us to cherish..

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 8:45 am #


      I love what you say. Give love and remember the good times.


  14. Mitch Mitchell April 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    What a wonderful tale, and Sam told it very well. Great lessons to be learned, but I hope you don’t mind me sharing one little lesson. I’m diabetic myself and I have to inject myself twice a day now. But you never feel the liquid, whether it’s been in the fridge or not. I was surprised by that, and happy about it at the same time.

    What a great owner you were to your dog; thanks for this story.

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 8:46 am #


      Sam never flliched or moaned about being injected…I just assumed the insulin would be cold!

      Thanks for correcting me.


  15. Beat Schindler April 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Growing up I didn’t know pets. But in my early teens, a neighbor’s Appenzell Cattle Dog, somewhat akin to a Border Collie, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appenzeller_Sennenhund] became my best friend. The dog used to be on a long chain, in the neighbor’s garden. I asked for permission to take the dog for walks. First time I took him to the nearby mountains and let him run free, he ran free so much and so crazily, after a very long hike of maybe 6 hours, I had to carry the dog – literally – in my arms. He, the dog, learned that in the mountains you better keep some energy for later. I, the dog’s friend, learned it’s important to enjoy freedom and life when you have it, and it’s a blessing if you have [a] friend[s] to carry you when your own legs don’t. It’s probably been the best friendship of my life – so far – the friendship between that dog, ‘my’ mountains and me.

    • Andrew April 23, 2011 at 8:49 am #


      Great story…I bet carrying him was hard work. I know I couldn’t carry Sam very far.

      That breed looks like a smooth coat Border Collie…that’s what Sam was.


  16. nazimwarriach April 24, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    Your pet was beautiful and intelligent and I think that you loved him very much.
    I learned Patience from Sam.

    • Andrew April 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm #


      We did love him very much!

      He was a joy to have around and for that reason…I don;t think we would get another dog.


  17. Aybi April 25, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Oh Andrew, I was really touched by this story. We also have a dog in our family and we really love her so much. I understand how you feel about your beloved Sam. I think his being lively when he was with you was caused by your love to him. He simply trusted you and maybe that’s the reason why he stayed strong. He was fortunate to have you.

    • Andrew April 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #


      Thanks…we do miss him so much.


  18. Felicia April 28, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    Sam sure is very adorable! So sad to know he’s suffered that much in a single year, but dogs don’t mind much as long as their owners still take care of them well enough. There are many pet owners who regard their pets as family, not as burdens or animals only. I’m happy for Sam that he had lived a long life with a loving family, despite the physical troubles he had.

    • Andrew April 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm #


      We did love him but his illness just got too much for him…we had to let him go.

      We have awesome memories!


  19. Stephanie April 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Your story made me cry. We also wonder what our pets think and your writing really made me feel like this was REALLY how he felt. I believe that you guys were the best parents he ever had and lived a long and fulfilling life. It’s sad that diabetes took the best of him, but how he can see with both eyes, eat tennis balls without it hurting, and play catch. Thank you for sharing this and I’m sorry he had to go. Reading this, I learned that even though we suffer through life, there’s more happy times than sad. So why waste time focusing on the sad times?

    • Andrew April 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm #


      Sorry to make you cry and I agree we should focus on the happy times.

      Shame the news doesn’t do that more often.


  20. Ayden May 1, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    What I’ve Learned From Claws The Cat: Sleeping all day is very very boring…

  21. Stephanie May 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Thanks for your reply Andrew! Ah, it’s ok.. they’re sad, but happy tears because he’s in a better place. This may be too soon to ask, but do you plan on getting another dog?

    • Andrew May 10, 2011 at 1:46 am #


      We have no plans to get another dog.

      Sam was so special…no dog could ever replace him. I think I would always be comparing the new dog with Sam.

      And that wouldn’t be fair on the new dog.

      Perhaps…in a few more years…not sure!

      Thanks for asking.


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