It’s hard to believe the last blog I wrote had me asking this very same question. Hard to believe, yet somehow fitting…
Do you remember the day we first met?
I was even younger then, fresher faced and brighter eyed, than when Harvey stumbled into our lives. But where he stumbled, you strutted. Even as the ball of black fluff you began life as, you still had more grace than the floppy-eared loon you would later call brother.
There was something about you, even in those early days, that marked you for respect. You tried your best to hide it, of course, joining forces with your favourite Teddy to challenge the rabbit and his football for the title of “dirtiest couple in the neighbourhood”.
But eventually, once the fires of passion had faded (or at least been doused by ancient veterinary customs), there was no escaping the depth of knowledge held within the black orbs of your eyes.
You were wise beyond your years. Perhaps that was why you chose the peaceful, pampered life offered by Hannah, rather than the wrestling ring I served to Harvey. You knew, like any true-born Stark, that winter was coming. You rationed your food sparingly, ensuring it lasted the day, and you buried your treats in quiet corners, shovelling invisible carpet over them with your snout, hoping to save them for a rainy day.
You knew it was hopeless, of course. Harvey was a summer child and he didn’t believe in saving. He soon sniffed out your stashes and finished them off. It was only in your later years that you gave up on him and started eating them for yourself.
You handled yourself with such dignity that it seemed Harvey was nothing but a nuisance to you. As soon as anyone paid you any attention, Harvey would be there, ready to butt in and get his head scratched. You would be sleeping peacefully in your bed… and Harvey would throw himself on top of you, his massive head a crushing weight. But you never snapped, you never got angry.
You were almost cat-like in your indifference. When you wanted attention you would brush up against your victims’ legs until they began to stroke you, and then when they tried to stop you would nuzzle at their hand until they continued. Only when you had your fill would you let them go, and if they tried to stroke you out of turn you would have none of it.
More than anything though, it was when you sat statue still on the back of the sofa, staring out of the window, that I started to think you might actually be a cat trapped in a dog’s body. You did nothing to help the cause by climbing up on people with your front paws on their chest, your eyes closed, and your head held high – looking every inch Mufasa on Pride Rock.
But that’s what you were, Sam: a king, regal and proud. As the years rode on you wore that grey beard with distinction, and even when your body started to fail you, you soldiered on without complaint.
Weeks have passed now since we said goodbye for the last time. Not that I knew it was the last time, so well you hid it. That’s why I’m here to say it again. If the science is right, you were 115 and a half years old, and that’s a very long time to share a life together. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Now go run the fields of heaven with the Haverster, and know, as you leave, that we welcome a new member to the fold – a baby boy of the human variety. Stanley will hear the legends of Sambo Majambo, and through him your story will live on. That is the circle of life, old boy, and I know you have an affection for that.
Your pack will miss you. Always.