I remember when you were about 8 months old and you ate an entire bag of Hersey kisses that you pulled off the dining room table while I was at work. You ate them wrappers and all and I called the doctor in a panic because you ate all that chocolate. You were fine though, especially after you puked up a giant ball of foil in the front yard.
The time I was maddest at you was the cupcake incident. I baked and painstakingly hand decorated two dozen cupcakes for Sugarplum's Sunday school class party (you would have been just over a year old). I went to bed Saturday night with two cookie sheets full of cupcakes on my stove top and woke up Sunday morning with THREE CUPCAKES - the ones you couldn't reach, standing on your giant hind feet. You snarfed (again, wrapper and all) all those cupcakes, spitting out only the tiny red cinnamon candies, and otherwise not making a mess at all. You didn't even get sick.
But in 13 years the number of times you did wrong were precious few. You were a good, good dog Sam. You loved us and only wanted us to be happy and you made us happy.
You were a gift for Sugarplum when she was eight years old. The time when she could hold you like the great fat baby you were was fairly short. Golden Retrievers are big dogs.
Right beside me, you watched her grow up.
When you were five years old a tiny baby boy came home and you did not like that. At all. You kept a very wide berth, preferring to stay in another room altogether from this small intruder. But a boy emerged, one who loved you and spilled food and in time could toss the frisbee, and all was well. You were his best buddy.
When you were ten years old another one came. You were older and more tolerant this time, giving a groan and an eye roll, steering clear until this one too, could throw straight.
You loved frisbees and water. You could run and leap so high to catch that flying disk, and you could stay underwater longer than I would have thought possible. You loved to go camping and canoeing, you loved snow, you loved to dive off the end of the dock in Florida or dive for rocks anywhere there was a river or lake. Even as an old man, this past winter, you went sledding with us.
I remember when your puppy smell faded away I was sad, but you always had the softest ears. You acted like a young fool for years, waggling not just your tail but your entire body at everyone and howling with joy at family and visitors alike. I thought you'd never grow up.
Then I watched your nose go white and your soft brown eyes grow wise. In time, you got slower and quieter. Sitting on the floor with you that last morning, petting and kissing your warm head and telling you how much we love you and what a good dog you are, the best dog there ever was, was the best goodbye you and I could have had, though just so very hard.
In the last few weeks, Bear sometimes says "I want Sam to come home now." We all do.
About your daddy...I promise Sam, no one ever loved a dog like he loved you.
You were so special, so beautiful inside and out. You were truly a golden boy, and there will never be another Sam Golden.
I love you and I miss you.
Sam Golden Smith
August 12, 1997 - August 21, 2010