The saving of Sam

Oktober 27, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Sam was my 8-year old medium-sized cross-breed dog which was given to me by my future wife as a puppy, a few months into our relationship.


A mostly black – with tan details – superbly intelligent, enthusiastic, energetic, loyal family dog. Endless entertainment for my two young sons. In fact, we seem to recall that my oldest son’s first words were not Mamma or Pappa, but Saaa..!, Saaa…!, toddling around the yard looking for the dog. His next word was Tee….taa! (tea-time – learnt from his grandfather) when he was thirsty. But I digress.


Prior to my leaving for Norway as technical support for a tracking camera system used at the speed-skating and ski-jumping venues of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, the sliding gate at home packed up and was stuck in the open position. Sam was standing inside the drive-way, when the neighbour from across the street’s Staffordshire terrier managed to slip out their gate, came over and attacked him, in the process breaking both bones of his left front lower leg.


We had spent quite a bit of money on vet bills – reasonably beyond the point where most people would have had their pet put down – trying to get the leg fixed, but Sam kept on eating the plaster-of-Paris off in order to get to the itch. We had given up hope on the leg healing due to the persistent infection, and were considering whether the leg should be amputated or perhaps even the dog put down as a cheaper option. These were some of the thoughts I left home with.


Back to Norway. On the days when there were no speed-skating events in Hamar, we were free to travel on the official buses which continuously commuted between the various Olympic villages from 4 am to 12pm daily. In this way we (the rest of the UK/American camera crew and me) got to do quite a bit of sightseeing in terms of events. Our accreditation IDs – hanging around our necks – allowed access to all the other venues. As Lillehammer was the main village, and also where the company – Aerial Camera Systems – which contracted my services were stationed, I went there a number of times.


On one of these occasions I was up at the ski-jumping arena, where the opening ceremony also took place and where rehearsals for the closing ceremony were presently under way. One of the events was the entry of the Olympic mascots – two kids named Haakon and Kristin, doll-children from Norwegian folklore – on a sled pulled by a team of huskies.


The dogs were quite unruly and keen to run, almost to the point of destruction, and were howling and yelping away, tugging at the harness, with their Sami (European equivalent of an Eskimo) sled-master doing his utmost to contain them.


Standing there watching this, I suddenly burst out crying uncontrollably. At first I thought maybe homesickness had kicked in – I had been away for four weeks now, and it would be another two weeks prior to returning – but once I could think clearly again, the realization hit me.


That evening back at Hamar – normally I’m too stingy to phone and rather write emails – I phoned my wife and told her that whatever the cost, we must save Sam’s leg.


She wanted to know how I came to this decision. I said: ”The huskies told me”.

4 antwoorde op The saving of Sam

  1. JessieR het gesê op Oktober 27, 2010

    Ai that is such a beautiful tale. I am like you with my animals – they are part of my life and I will pay anything to make sure they are healed, healthy and happy.

  2. did you save the leg and how long did he live after that?

  3. And you did save his leg I assume. Going through similar with our Boxer at present. Have posted on this event in our lives.

  4. jjjonker het gesê op Oktober 27, 2010

    Yes, we did save the leg. First we had to change vets, though.

    Pins were inserted surgically, however by then the dog had gotten used to being a tripod, and could maintain a good spurt of speed on three legs. Only when max speed was required – chasing cats, or so – did Sam ever use the “spare” leg.

    For therapy we let the dog swim a lot.

    OK, maybe I should mention that if you opened the gate to the pool and anyone was in the water, the dog leaped straight in as part of its running stride. Basically you had to open the gate, as the dog put up such a racket when it saw someone else in the pool – it had to come save you.

    This may not work for your dog – our replacement sausage dog floats – actually “bob” would be a better word – upright like a pencil, and has become completely hydrophobic after our attempts to teach her how to swim. We thought all dogs would be like Sam. When she sees people in the pool, she gives it an extra wide berth. But she has other qualities which also makes her lovable and fun.

    Sam lived for another two years, as exuberant as ever. He died, sadly not due to the injury, but of tick-bite fever contracted at a kennel one long week-end.

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