Lynn Dorman, Ph.D. // Aging


October 10  

Sam - a dog who is missed

Sam – a dog who is missed / photo by Lynn Dorman

Sam is a Malamutt I adopted almost 8 years ago – when he was about 2 1/2 years old.  He had a different name when I adopted him but within a short time he seemed liked a Sam and he loved the name.  So Sam he became!

We moved to Portland almost 7 years ago and it was a perfect spot for him: dogs, dog parks and dog people…he was in heaven!

This summer, soon after he turned 11, he started fading.  At first I thought it was the heat [he and I don’t “do” heat very well] but he never really perked up as we went into late August – and then he went on a steady decline.


It was hard on me and I spent a lot of time just being with him. I made him special meals and sat with him as he ate.  His legs had trouble holding up his 120 pounds so he ate more when lying down.


For a dog who never met a food he did not like it was sad to see him not want to eat much of anything.


His systems were all still working and up to his last few days, he was still able to walk ever so slowly up the ramp to the road.  But there came a day he could not longer do that.


I won’t go into detail here about his last few days, and our conversations, but I will offer some insights I have had in the almost 3 weeks since he died and why his death has been harder than the death of other dogs.


As an adult, I have had a dog or two and/or a child around for over 40 years.  I got my first dog when I was about 29 and so I have had a dog or my son to care for [or need me] since then.

With Sam’s death I realized this is the first time since I was 29 that I don’t have a dog or child in the house!  It’s like I have nothing to “take care of.”


Yes I have a cat, and for about 2 weeks after Sam died, she hung around the house and the moorage – but now she is back to being a cat.  She stays out all day and sometimes all night.  And like a cat, she is affectionate only when she wants to be – not like Sam who just loved people watching and being patted.


And for now, I am taking care of me.  I can work, travel and do things without having to go home to feed and walk a dog or call my friend to do that for me. 


It’s hard at times, but I am beginning to enjoy a real empty nest.


Comments? Thank you


  • Lynn im sorry Sam died.
    At night I walk trought the dark in a little part of forrest in the citypark of Amsterdam with the two brothers Castor and Apollo,
    two Husky’s who look like Sam.
    Nobody around who dares to follow us in that silent dark place but a bird
    or rabbit we respect and ignore, we walk silent in a triangle peacefully until
    we meet the citylights and the green field. Then it is joyfull chasing and play time. While looking at the stars they sit down, looking up to please me to look where I point while listening to the names.
    I will probably die soon before them.
    I did not want dogs and certainly not 2 but when getting ill my oldest son bought them for me to get out the office to get exercise and yes,
    rain or no rain, we walk in the dark.

    Dogs love you unconditional as you love your kids.
    The children love the dogs and are realy caring petting and nursing
    so I know they will take care and be of comfort to eachother.

    Lynn, send you hugs and compliments with the
    great blog you write and the person you are.
    Thank You,

    Themelis Cuiper

    • Thank you Themelis for your kind words and great thoughts on pets. Yes they do force one to exercise … and keep us living longer

    • Thank you Themelis – for your kind words about the blog and about Sam. I’m glad you have the dogs – your son was correct – pets keep us alive longer! I’m trying to do the daily walking routines – but find it’s no longer a fun thing to do…

  • I’m sorry to hear about your loss. There is no substitute for someone who has been with you every day and loved you every day, regardless of species. My condolences.

    • Thank you Robyn. For me it was harder to lose Sam than when some friends have died. It’s that “everydayness” you spoke of…

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    About the Author

    Native of NYC who moved a lot, got several degrees, and has been a lifelong writer and reader... I am interested in many things - and I write [and teach] about them - especially the human lifespan and healthy aging

    Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.