In Memory of Sammy’s Friend John

Several years ago a co-worker’s husband, John, was eventually diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer after months of testing. Kathy told me at work one day that John’s doctor had mentioned the fact that if John would like a dog, it could help him through this terrible journey they were about to face.  Mesothelioma and Alternative Therapies

Kathy originally asked me to look for a dog for John that was similar to my golden, Cinda. John fell in love with Cinda when he met her when he came to our office to have lunch with Kathy several months earlier. Cinda was an assistance dog in training and went to work with me quite often. I started to pursue some options but as things got close to the possibly of my finding a pooch for her, she was having second thoughts. She didn’t have to say much. I knew Kathy and dogs were not her thing. And the thought of having a puppy or a dog after John was gone was just too much for her to comprehend. I understood completely, as did John. John and Kathy were a beautiful admirable couple – wonderful examples of what a marriage should be.

Realizing a dog in John’s life would be beneficial even if not living in his home with him, I offered him visits with my other young golden, Sammy, a young puppy working on becoming a registred therapy dog. I told John and Kathy, they could come over and visit Sammy  at our home until Sammy got to know him or I could bring him to their home (if ok with Kathy). They bonded very quickly. I eventually offered them that if they would like to take Sammy home for an afternoon, I would be ok with that.

Well, that was the beginning of very beautiful relationship. Many weekend afternoons, I’d say good-bye to Sammy as John and Kathy would take him to their home. Sammy was there for various picnics with friends and family. They would give me pictures of my boy with John in his garden or just playing in the living room or patio.

As months went by the inevitable became more obvious. Instead of taking Sammy themselves, they would just invite me to bring him over for shorter and shorter visits. John wanted so badly to get on the floor with Sammy, but that was no longer a possibility. Then on one visit, they gave me all the toys that  Sammy had accumulated while spending time in his second home.  As I left that day, they thanked us. I knew that wold be our last visit with John.

Sadly, John did pass away. Kathy called me and asked that Sammy please be in receiving line with the family for the Visitation. I wasn’t comfortable doing that but I would definitely bring him along when I came to pay my respects.

When I arrived at the funeral home, the line of people waiting to support John’s family was lined up outside and along the front of the parking lot. I put on Sammy’s therapy dog vest and his black scarf and proceeded to the end of the line. As we waited in the parking lot line, folks would walk by and recognize Sammy. They would say “Oh, this must be Sammy. We’ve heard so much about him” or “Sammy was at the picnic we attended with John and Kathy”. I was amazed at how many people knew him or of him.

But the biggest surprise was yet to come. As Sammy and I approached the family, I could tell they saw us in advance. When it was our turn, Kathy and her two daughters shed a few tears as they hugged Sammy gently before moving on to the next visitor. We proceeded through the line to the table holding John’s urn. First we passed the family photo of John, Kathy and his family.  Then was the urn containing John’s remains. As we took our next step, I stopped and the tears just flowed and flowed. There on the table, right next to John, was a beautifully framed picture of John’s buddy, Sammy.

I  thank the Lord, my God for my precious boy and that he was able to help one man travel through his final and most difficult journey.