September 7, 2013

North Cairn: May Sam live happily ever after

As it turned out, Sam did end up in Connecticut.

But not in a cage. And not alone.

Samantha, the golden-shepherd mix dog that I fostered for a short time, rode with me over the Labor Day weekend to a park outside of Worcester, Mass., where a new -- and better -- family greeted her as though she had been with them all her life. They were so happy with her, they had difficulty controlling their instinct to touch her, pet her, fawn over her. But they kept their joy understated, in the compassionate way of people who know that even a dog -- especially a sensitive dog who's been shuffled around -- can be overwhelmed when meeting another set of people for the first time.

It was a very hard good-bye for both of us, but I left, crying a little -- again -- but confident that we had done the right thing. Sam is living with a family of four now, a pack with a stay-at-home mom, two children and a dad who works nearby. They originally had expressed interest in a golden retriever, and I was afraid at first that might be a snag -- what with her distinctive shepherd face and ears -- but there was no hesitation from her adoptive family.

"She's so pretty," the daughter said, barely touching Sam's head, trying to be ever so gentle so Sam would not be startled.

Sam was fine.

As long as she's not alone, Sam is always fine.

I have heard that she is doing well; I have seen pictures of her on a leash, standing placidly between the children. The family reports that she sleeps at the foot of the parents' bed, has survived a bad thunder and lightning storm, hikes through the woods with them and is always up for having her belly rubbed.

These are all good signs.

The woman who handled Sam's rescue, Katherine Glankler of Southern Jewel Rescue (contact: was tireless in her search, first to find me as a foster and then to guide the family in Connecticut in their decision. We both worked hard for several days, calling in favors, getting Sam's picture posted just about everywhere but the FBI's Most Wanted List and generally spreading the word that a very deserving dog needed a home.

The arrangements were sealed by Sunday, the same day that word of Sam's plight appeared in the newspaper. More people than I could possibly have imagined stepped up immediately and offered a home for Sam, and the rescue started a waiting list just in case things didn't work out in Connecticut. But the family made it official on Friday; they are keeping Sam -- renamed Sasha, now that she has moved to a wealthier part of New England and a resides in a home on the water.

No one expects that Sam will ever have to be moved again.

So many people from every corner of Maine emailed and called to offer help that it took almost all of Labor Day to respond to everyone and reassure folks that Glankler -- who does little else 18 hours a day, every day, besides find good homes for abandoned dogs -- had lined up a place quickly enough that Sam was spared having to be returned to a cage, even for a while.

"This dog will never be put in a cage -- uh-uh," Glankler said to me late one night by phone, in what must have been the 36th call we'd exchanged over three days. "Never. That's not what we do. Uh-uh. Ain't gonna happen."

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