Some dogs work. I greatly admire them. Sam, from the Tails Around the Ranch blog, is one of them. Sam was employed as a therapy dog at the Lutheran Medical center. He met with patients, soothed their worries, eased their pain, and showed them love, something people in hospitals need as much as morphine. Very few performed their duty as well as Sam.
If you believe in the theory that a dog ages seven years for every human’s one, then Sam worked until the was 98. At the time he stopped five weeks ago, he was showing signs that the job was taking its toll. It took him longer to recover from a day’s work than it did in his youth, and he was slowing down. Sam would have gladly continued on his rounds, but his mom knew it was time to stop so that Sam could live an ordinary life.
All the patients at the hospital loved Sam. He knew who needed extra attention. He was a barometer for their heartache and gave them enough attention to heal. Sometimes patients need more than what human medicine can provide. Dogs like Sam provided it.
When a human passes a month after retirement, people conclude that the job was providing them a reason for living, and shake their heads at the tragedy of a soul who was robbed of enjoying his retirement. Sam doesn’t want anyone to feel that way about him. The truth is Sam had been hoarding heartbeats for a long time. He knew he couldn’t leave his patients, or let them learn of his death, while they were confronting their mortality. Sam waited until his job was done, then gave his mom a month of family time, until he finally stopped putting off the dementor angels and surrendered to the Bridge.
Sam was sent to my district of Rainbow Bridge, and I was tasked with swearing him in. When I went to Hobo’s Landing, the cliff that overlooks the Bridge and the stairs that lead up to Doggyspace, where we stay while awaiting our loved ones, there was a long line of people anxious to greet Sam. I learned they were from the Lutheran Medical Center. Sam had comforted them at the end of their mortal life, and they wanted to do the same for Sam at the beginning of his immortal life.
Sam received one of the grandest welcome parties I had ever attended. He spent time with all the Lutheran Medical Center’s patients or their families. Sam graciously greeted each one and kissed them.
Of course, Sam wanted to learn how to dream visit with his mom, but he also asked to go into the dreams of anyone in a hospital who was in despair so he could comfort them, continuing the work he had done so well on the mortal side.
I know Sam will be just as dedicated to helping people as an angel as he was as a therapy dog. But now he can visit hundreds of patients a night. The world will be a better place with Sam as an angel.
Great therapy dogs like Sam don’t retire. They become immortal and carry on.