Time to Remember
He was a gift literally and figuratively. Upon arrival, whatever lingering doubts we had about not choosing him ourselves disappeared as soon as he looked at us with those almost cartoon like eyes - big and brown, his right eye with an imperfect shard of blue . Trusting and mellow and loving, he immediately offered his belly up for affection and with that, he had us. I remember he pressed his forehead into mine , as if trying to merge with me, and that would always be one of his most endearing behaviors.
My Father named him Sam after a beagle he had as a kid (HIS Father had named after the band leader of the Jackie Gleason Orchestra). Sam was a sharp contrast to our other dachshund Boris, who was manic and slightly obnoxious (okay, really obnoxious, but we loved him anyway. He was loaded with personality). Boris cared about BALLS and FOOD (I imagine his thoughts in uppercase, his synapses screaming those signals in his brain). Sam on the other hand seemed only to care about attention and love. Boris would dart and run, Sam would saunter. Boris was very smart and focused and intense ( see BALLS) and constant attention wasn't really his deal. Sam didn't really understand playing or balls. The only attention he would lavish on spherical objects was to carefully chew out any noise devices they held, leaving Boris with a squeaker less toy. Sam had many traits that could make you think he was not the brightest of the lot, but I know he took out those squeakers because they were fricken' annoying, even to him.
My experience with dachshunds in the past was that the tend to be a...well....humpy breed. Sam always got a grin from me when he would get excited and would hump the air next to you, never connecting with anything or on anything. Obviously more instinct than pleasure, like he knew this was something you do, but not how or why, Such an innocent.
Sam was also my Mothers best companion. Whenever she was around, he was always by her side. On their walks through the trails of Cassine Gardens, she would remark on how he always took care of her. He would be slightly ahead of her on the path when he would stop and patiently wait for her to catch up, and if she ever lost sight of him all she had to do was look down because he would be right at her heels, guiding her along. Her last year on earth , Sam (along with our other dog Lady Day- Boris having passed a few years back) was her greatest source of comfort, glued to her as her activities became more limited and her words fewer because she couldn't remember them. While my father and I would be at work, she always had the dogs to keep her company. She didn't have the words, but they understood each other perfectly.
His behavior changed radically in his last months due to a fevered brain, causing slight aggression and manic behavior previously unknown to him. Receiving love was not a priority anymore, sometimes it was even an annoyance. The Sam I knew went away at an exceedingly fast rate, the light in his eyes dulled, his energy flagged.
I knew in my heart that his time remaining was short when we took him to the vet. I cradled his barely conscious body in my arms and whispered my love in his ears, nuzzling him, pressing my face into his. trying to merge with him. Remembering that pure being that graced our life for 15 years, that unconditional love. That gift.
That will be our last moments together. That is the memory I will cling to.
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