Last year we lost our beautiful dog, Samantha. I am writing about Samantha because she was special (of course) and she helped me with arthritis.

Samantha was about 4 years old when she came to live with us.  She was mostly a cocker spaniel, but certainly not a purebred.  Or maybe she was. She was the second mostly cocker spaniel and family member who has lived with us.

Finding each other

We found (I have to say she might have found us) her in a rescue shelter. We learned that she was from the northern part of Indiana and she came to us with her name and a few details about her path to our door.  We learned the city she was surrendered in and that she had been seeing a veterinarian in another town even further north in our state. We found her after she turned up in a cocker spaniel rescue shelter about 50 miles away from us.

She was spotted on a website by Sheryl, and it was close to love at first site. She had several freckles on her nose, a buff coat and after a few years with us a graying face.

My protector

What made Samantha special is that at the time she arrived I was not at the top of my game.  I was about to start my dissertation, I had just had a hip replacement, and I was near my lowest point. Samantha was Sheryl’s dog. She found and mostly cared for her; but sweet Samantha adopted me as her project.  She laid beside me as I wrote my dissertation, she forced me to walk her when I did not feel like it, and she kept me up even when I was mostly down.

Samantha had the funny habit of closing her eyes as I teased her. She listened to my jokes over and over without complaining and while I wrote my dissertation she sat at my side day in and day out giving me emotional support and in some cases a paw on my foot to calm my tapping as I looked up a reference or contemplated the next sentence. Samantha got me out of the house on our walks around the neighborhood, and she had a fan club amongst our neighbors.

When my dissertation chairperson told me on the telephone, I had completed the requirements for graduation as a Doctor of Education. My exact words were “Samantha we made it, the dissertation was approved, and we are graduating.” She seemed to understand that the news was good and that she was part of the reason, which she most definitely was.


She helped me on days when I hurt, and I sat with her when she had difficulty. One of my favorite memories of Samantha was her protection of Sheryl and me from things like bad telephone calls, upsetting news or Hot Air Balloons. I can unequivocally report that in the six years she lived with us not a single hot air balloon attacked us and survived. Of course, no hot air balloon has ever attacked us, but Samantha did her job in protecting us each day she lived with us.

In fact, in her last few years, as Samantha’s health declined, it seemed she spent more time mothering me than I spent watching her. She was concerned each time I felt ill, she was worried when my blood sugar got too low, and she stayed at my side until it returned to normal.  She helped me move when I was too stiff and sore to move across the room.  Oh, and of course she was the first to run to Sheryl and rat me out if she thought I had done or not done something Sheryl needed to know about.

Whether it was barking at me precisely at 10 PM to get the popcorn out (she loved popcorn) or sleeping on my feet to keep them warm, Samantha was such a wonderful companion. At a time that my world was contracting, Samantha showed me that it was OK and possible to be me.  She was the perfect buddy for a guy who had difficulty moving forward into a time when he would be less out in the world.  I miss her every day.  She was my buddy both as a person and as a person with RA.

Do you have a pet buddy that helps you in your life?

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