An old dog


I love my husband for many reasons, but high on that list is the time he spent teaching Samson how to ride in my bike basket. He did it when Sam could still run alongside us for a couple miles but we wanted a way to take him on longer trips down the Eugene bike path. Now Sam doesn’t ever want to run as fast as a bike. But he’ll sit in the milk crate for a long while. Last weekend he accompanied me on a ride to the library…


Watching my beloved dog grow old is hard. He has a lot of pep in his step still, and sometimes strangers we meet at the park are surprised to hear he’s 13, but he is slowing down nonetheless. He’s lumpier. And his skin hangs looser and he snores louder. And more than ever he’s interested in staying warm, which makes me think of a friend’s ancient cat Foof who lived out the last few years of her life hardly ever straying from an electric heating pad on top of the bed. She was 17, and I remember how cool her fur felt as she slept there on her little heater.


Short of moving to a warmer climate, what we can currently offer Sam is the top of the file cabinet in the back office.  There’s a small wall heater back there with two settings: HOT and OFF. When it’s on all the heat rises to the ceiling, creating cold feet and a sweaty forehead. Sam was joining R. for his study sessions this winter and spring, but his bed on the floor was cold even with the wall heater on. The top of the file cabinet, however, is super toasty and sauna-like. Eventually we might need to provide him a Foof-arrangement.

For those of you who have seen a pet through old age, do you have any words of wisdom to share?

Wanting to read more about Samson?
The story of how he found me
That time he jumped off the balcony
That time I got a letter about his threatening behavior
That time he returned to Hocking Hills
That time we said goodbye



  1. lsaspacey · July 1, 2013

    Oh, sweet little Sam in a basket! Did you know I started reading your blog for the sewing but then discovered Sam and now come back for both. Keep keepin’ us informed on his antics, he’s a darn cute hound dog (my fav).

  2. linda gaylord · May 10, 2013

    My pittie roxy is 13.she is still in good shape,but loves to sleep slot,wrapped in home made afgans,in her favorite chairs.just keep them loved,warm,fed and happy.promise them,by way of whispers in their soft ears,that you will be there at the end,no matter what.hold them close and give them kisses every chance you get.bend some rules you have and sneak them extra treats or let them lick a few plates.put at least one dog bed in a warm,sunny spot for all their napping.and don’t miss any chances to spend time with them outside in the fresh air.make them feel special all the time,because every day with them is special….

  3. tami · April 30, 2013

    hey! you took that Sam pic when I was there. And I like the new Sam in the basket picture too. Very sweet post–about Sam and about R. Get Sam a puppy to keep him young!

  4. Jodi · April 30, 2013

    Oh, what a sweet dog. I love that he goes for bike rides with you!

    We nursed our two elderly cats through a few tough years (honestly, perhaps for a longer time than was kind, but your heart is clouded by love), and we treated them to plug-in heated pet beds. They absolutely loved them. The beds were on the floor and easy for them to get in and out of — one of our cats was not supposed to do any jumping near the end, and this was an excellent call.

  5. Lisa Caffo · April 30, 2013

    Sam will be happiest just being with you two and I think you’re meeting all his needs and beyond! ((HUGS)) to all of you 🙂

  6. Molly · April 30, 2013

    We’re a few years behind you, but our dogs are definitely starting to show their age here and there, and it always makes me a little sad to notice those signs. But Samson is looking pretty good in your bike basket. I wouldn’t begin to know how to get Miles to do that.

  7. Kim · April 30, 2013

    Oh Katie. This posting makes me feel so much love for Sam and you guys. I know Sam has some smart looking coats/sweaters. Does he not like to wear them in the house? One of our good friends has a 15 year old big dog. In addition to lots of vitamins he is getting acupuncture and loving it! Honestly, you guys are so great about making Sam a part of everything that I can’t think of anything that would probably make him more content than just hanging out with you.

  8. Sally · April 30, 2013

    No wisdom, Katie, but lots of hugs for you all and for Sam. Sam is one of the finest dogs I’ve ever known, and I empathize with his lumps, sags, and snores.

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