I miss you like crazy

Dear Sammy,

It has been exactly a year since you’ve been gone. I miss you like crazy.

I think about you everyday. Every time the kids see a black lab on the street, they point and exclaim, “Sammy!”

I miss watching you sleep and twitch your whole body in running dreams. I miss you nuzzling my hand and forcing me to pay attention to you. I miss you laying at my feet when I sit on the couch. I miss you running over to me the second you heard me crack the shell of an egg, and wolf down a whole egg in 2 seconds flat. I miss how you look at me with your big, gentle, soulful, brown eyes that are so full of love. You are one of those “best” things that has ever happened to me.

Thank you for all the love and joy you have selflessly shared with me. I miss you so much, buddy!

Mommy

Sammy

My favorite place

If I have to name my favorite places in the world, Cannon Beach would be one of the top 3. Cliff and I used to go there at least once a year to relax, and my mind is filled with memories of Sammy running up and down the level beach and sniffing everything. The last time we went was our babymoon, while I was 35 weeks pregnant with Joshua.

It is quite a long drive from Vancouver, which prevented us from taking that trip again while Josh and Savanna were little. This year, we feel that it’s about time to take them on a road trip, and see how they do with all the travel training they’ve had so far. As it turns out, they did so much better than I expected, and I am ecstatic (and planning more trips)!

We rented a little cottage a block away from the beach. Every morning we would go to the beach after breakfast. We would make sand castles, dip our toes in the cold ocean, fly kites, and throw our beach balls around. We would then go back to the cottage for lunch, or walk to the town for pizza, then back to the beach again to tire ourselves out.

We had a little farewell ceremony for Sammy, because I think that Cannon Beach is probably his favorite place as well. Cliff and I had a good cry. We just miss our pup so much.

I can’t wait to go back.

cannon-3 cannon-2 cannon       cannon-8 cannon-7 cannon-6 cannon-5

The life of Sam (in pictures)

There are no words to describe the emptiness we feel without our Sam. We keep coming home expecting to see Sam excited to see us, or out of habit get ready to feed him at 6 pm.

Tonight I decided to go through our photos of Sam and post some of them here. I miss him so much.

One of the first days home with us.

One of the first days home with us. 2007.

We napped together on the floor all the time.

We napped together on the floor all the time.

When Sam was younger and full of energy, we spent lots of time playing fetch at the park.

When Sam was younger and full of energy, we spent lots of time playing fetch at the park.

We called him Sam, Sammy, puppy, puppy dog, Sam-poo, poopy.

We called him Sam, Sammy, puppy, puppy dog, Sam-poo, poopy. He was 95 lbs and all muscles.

Sam at work with his buddy, Kevin. Kevin passed away last year.

Sam at work with his buddy, Kevin. Kevin passed away last year.

For his 6th birthday, I baked him a cake with egg and flour.

For his 6th birthday, I baked him a cake with egg and flour.

Going fishing in Mission.

Going fishing in Mission.

Our first trip to the Oregon coast with Sam. He LOVED the place.

Our first trip to the Oregon coast with Sam. He LOVED the place. His tail never stopped wagging.

Sammy was getting a bit anxious, watching us pack for our trip to climb Kilimanjaro.

Sammy was getting a bit anxious, watching us pack for our trip to climb Kilimanjaro. 2008

Being handsome.

Being handsome.

The two best friends hanging out at home.

The two best friends hanging out at home. 2009

In the front yard.

In the front yard.

Poor buddy had surgery to fix a torn ligament.

Poor buddy had surgery to fix a torn ligament in his knee. In hind sight, I feel that Sam never truly recovered from that surgery.

When Sam was recovering from his surgery, Cliff spent a few nights sleeping on the floor next to him to comfort him.

When Sam was recovering from his surgery, Cliff spent a few nights sleeping on the floor next to him to comfort him.

Second trip to the Oregon coast.

Second trip to the Oregon coast.

Chilling out on Salt Spring Island.

Chilling out on Salt Spring Island.

Getaway in Pemberton.

Getaway in Pemberton. 2010

Picnic at Jericho beach.

Picnic at Jericho beach.

Hiking in Pemberton.

Hiking in Pemberton.

One of Sam's favorite things to do--go for his warm water swims.

One of Sam’s favorite things to do–go for his warm water swims. This helps him exercise the leg that he received surgery on.

My handsome boy.

My handsome boy.

Looks like we nap a lot around here. Ha.

Looks like we nap a lot around here. Ha.

Regular nap times on the floor.

Regular nap times on the floor.

Camping in Squamish.

Camping in Squamish.

Camping in Squamish.

Camping in Squamish.

Chilling out at home.

Chilling out at home.

Waiting for baby Joshua to show up.

Waiting for baby Joshua to show up.

Hanging out at home.

Hanging out at home.

Sammy hanging out with Daddy on Cannon Beach.

Sammy hanging out with Daddy on Cannon Beach.

This was our "babymoon". I was 37 weeks pregnant with Josh.

This was our “babymoon”. I was 37 weeks pregnant with Josh.

We walked miles everyday during the babymoon.

We walked miles along the beach. Sam loved it. We were always able to walk him without a leash. He never strayed from us.

Meeting Joshua for the first time. Josh was 2 days old here.

Meeting Joshua for the first time. Josh was 2 days old here.

Right away Sam took to guarding Josh.

Right away Sam took to guarding Josh.

Our first walk together with Joshua.

Our first walk together with Joshua.

Somehow he just knew he needed to protect this baby.

Somehow he just knew he needed to protect this baby.

Sam has always been so tolerant of the kids.

Sam has always been so tolerant of the kids. 2011

Teaching Joshua to do tummy time.

Teaching Joshua to do tummy time.

Checking out our new tent.

Checking out our new tent.

Brothers.

Brothers.

Sam was probably wondering when he's going to get some attention.

Sam was probably wondering when he’s going to get some attention.

All my boys.

All my boys.

Hanging out with Josh.

Hanging out with Josh.

At home.

At home.

Looking so majestic.

Looking so majestic.

God I miss these big paws.

God I miss these big paws.

Hanging out at home.

Hanging out at home.

Going for a walk with Daddy.

Going for a walk with Daddy.

Family photo.

Family photo.

At home.

At home.

My handsome boys.

My handsome boys. 2012

He's really starting to look grey here.

He’s really starting to look grey here.

Handsome as usual.

Goofy as usual.

At home.

At home.

So handsome.

So handsome.

Snow dog.

Snow dog.

Going for a walk.

Going for a walk with Mommy.

At home.

At home.

Sam is a gentle giant.

Sam is a gentle giant.

Sam loves snow.

Sam loves snow.

All my boys together.

All my boys together.

Sun tanning at the park.

Sun tanning at the park.

Joshua is taking forever digging in the sand, and Sam just waits.

Joshua is taking forever digging in the sand, and Sam just waits.

Waiting patiently at the park.

Waiting patiently at the park.

Josh started to think he can walk Sam.

Josh started to think he can walk Sam.

Going for a walk.

Going for a walk. 2013

So cute.

Just snoozing away while I worked in the office.

Just snoozing away while I worked in the office. 2014

Hanging out with Josh at the park.

Hanging out with Josh at the park.

At home.

At home.

At home.

At the park.

At the park.

Those big brown eyes just melt me.

Those big brown eyes just melt me.

In the last year, Sam slept a lot. His hearing was starting to go, and he barely hears us.

In the last year, Sam slept a lot. His hearing was starting to go, and he barely hears us. He was down to 78 lbs–almost 20 lbs less than what he was at his prime. His back legs were skinny, and he struggled to get off the ground.

Sam's last morning at home. Savanna giving him some love.

Sam’s last morning at home. Savanna giving him some love. She really loved Sam.

At the vet, almost time to say good-bye.

At the vet, almost time to say good-bye.

It was very sweet of the nurse to put his IV in and put a heart shaped bandage on.

This was the last picture I took of Sam. It was very sweet of the nurse to put his IV in and put a heart shaped bandage on. After this, I put my camera away, and spent the last few minutes with him while sobbing uncontrollably. He has given all of his love to us, while never making a single demand. Thank you, buddy boy. I miss you so much!

Day 101/365 {brother}

While we were driving in the car today, we were talking about trying to visit with my brother this weekend.

Joshua said, “Is 舅舅 (Uncle Grant) your friend?”

I said, “No, 舅舅 is my brother.”

Joshua said, “Who’s my brother?”

I said, “You don’t have a brother.  You have mei-mei.”

Joshua said, “Sam is my brother.”

Angela Chang Photography Day 101 of 365

Day 8/365 {puppy}

Angela Chang Photography Day 8 of 365

This is my puppy.  I know he’s not a puppy, but I call him Puppy.  He is the most amazing dog in the world.  He has spent countless hours warming my cold feet in the winter time or sitting on the bath mat waiting for me to get out of the shower.  He loves sticking his head on my keyboard to get attention, or nudging me with his cold and wet nose in the morning to wake me up.

For someone who doesn’t speak a single word, he always tells me I can count on him to be there for me.

Thank you, Sam.

Sam is now 11 1/2 years old.  He is definitely slowing down.  I can tell when he gets up from the floor, it takes a bit more effort and takes a little longer.  It pains me to see he stands up so many times a day.  He likes to follow us around the house, and he refuse to sit tight in one spot waiting for us to come back.

With Joshua and Savanna keeping our hands full, the amount of attention going to Sam is definitely less than what it used to be.  And yes, I feel VERY guilty.  Before the kids came, I used to take Sam for long walks, and gave him a lot more attention.  He was the king of the house, and we took him everywhere we went.  But Sam never complained about Joshua and Savanna.  He curls up at my feet whenever I’m nursing Savanna.  He still does his goofy lab smile coming home from a walk with Cliff.  And when I do give him attention or a belly rub, he doesn’t give me the “it’s about time” look, but rather the “oh, I never get tire of this” look.  He never held a grudge for the diminishing amount of attention given to him.

Sometimes things get chaotic at home with two kids (OMG does it ever).  I am just grateful that Sam is one quiet constant in my life.  He has a calming effect on me, because he is so mellow and laid back.  Sometimes just looking at him makes me feel calmer in the middle of crying babies and demands of life.  Thank you, Sam!

Sam-2906

A scare with Sam

Sam has been scratching a lot lately, so Cliff took him to the vet for a check-up.  The vet didn’t think his skin had any issues.  But in the process of checking him, the vet thought Sam’s spleen was quite enlarged, pushing against his other organs and causing discomfort.  Sam has also lost about 10 lbs in the last 5 or 6 months.  So Sam went back to the vet yesterday to get an ultrasound, x-ray, and blood work done.

I went to work this morning, waiting for Cliff to call me with the test results.  I’ve been holding my breathe all morning, worried about the worst case scenario.  What if it’s cancer?  What if it’s some odd disease?  My heart sinks everytime I think about the possibility of Sam suffering, or us losing him.  If you’ve ever met Sam, you would know he is the most gentle soul in the world.  I could have never asked for a more amazing dog.  The moment we laid our eyes on him 5 years ago, we knew that us and Sam are destined to be together.

When Cliff finally text’d me in the afternoon, I was deep in thought working on a proposal at work and I heard the “beep” on my phone.  I picked up my phone from my desk, took a deep breathe, and opened up the text message.  First word I saw was “cancer”.  F@&!#@!!

Then I read it again, phew, Cliff said “cancer free”.  The blood work came back, and the vet decided that Sam is as healthy as a 2-year-old lab.  He’s not sure why Sam’s spleen is enlarged, but it is definitely not cancer, and not even an infection.  So, all that to say there’s nothing wrong with Sam, and we just wait and see what happens with the spleen.

I always assume Sam will just live forever.  He’s an integral part of our lives, and I can’t imagine life without him.  Sure, in my back of my mind, I know his life is finite.  But on a day-to-day basis, I take it for granted that he’s always there for me, ready to cheer me up, loyal and loving, nudging his head under my arms, sitting on the bath mat waiting for me to come out of the shower, curled up at my feet when I work on the computer, and always so excited when I dance with Joshua.

What I haven’t conveyed here often, is that Sam has been a constant in our lives.  He doesn’t say much, but he provids us with companionship and love all day long.  I don’t post often here about him because he doesn’t talk and doesn’t do new trick, but he fills a part of my heart that no other person or animal could.