Volunteer Insight - A Tribute to Sam

Posted by Nerilie Watson on 30 June 2010 | 2 Comments


We can’t thank our volunteers enough for the generous time and effort they dedicate to our pooches – but one way we can pay tribute is by sharing their stories. So, to celebrate the International Year of the Volunteer and acknowledge the hard work and dedication our vollies pay to the Refuge, we thought we'd share the individual special stories.

And so, each week we'll share a new "volunteer insight" and you'll see just what it takes to be a Refuge vollie and how once you start, it's very hard to leave those little wet noses!

A Tribute to Sam

By Melanie Yarnall

I have been a volunteer at the refuge since November 2009. My main motivation for deciding to volunteer, despite all amazing friends I have made, both human and canine, was because of my dog Sam. I was lucky enough to be chosen as Sam’s mum in 2000, when he was just a 12 week old puppy. He bought me much joy throughout his short life, like when he decided to toilet paper the house, and his many play fights with his older cat brother Monty that always resulted in Monty getting the upper hand, and Sam running to my lap for protection. Also, there we were almost failing puppy school, due to Sam thinking it was all a big game and he would sit there stubbornly and look at me like, “yeah right I am not doing that!” He would rather play with the other puppies, getting into mischief, and then the minute we were in the car (and not even out of the carpark) he would fall soundly asleep. He used to love his baths, and especially loved having his hair “styled” with the hairdryer that he would pester me with nudges and “hhhmmmss” until I got the hairdryer out! He was incredibly intelligent, although the vet described him as being like a child with ADHD as he was so full on and energetic!


Sadly at the age of two, Sam was diagnosed with epilepsy, which left us dreading the summer months as the seizures were exacerbated by the hot weather.  Sam knew he had to have medication twice daily, and would remind me if I ever forgot by standing by the fridge giving me that look like “you have forgotten something”. It wasn’t the medication he wanted, only the polony that I used to hide the pill in! As the years went by the seizure grew worse and more frequent, and there were nights I would sleep on the laundry floor with him, as this was the only place he was safe. He used to sleep in my bed prior to the seizures, but the vet said it was just too much of a risk that during a seizure he would fall out of the bed and injure himself. The seizures caused substantial damage to Sam’s brain, and my happy little boy was changing rapidly, although that never changed the love I have for him.  

Just three weeks shy of his sixth birthday, after a bad bout of seizures, Sam didn’t come out of one of his seizures properly and the vet advised it was most likely that he had suffered a stroke. We discussed his care options for him as he could no longer walk properly and would need around the clock care, the vet said we don’t know how far away his next seizure is, and what that could do to him.  Sam went to sleep peacefully on the 15 February 2006, just three weeks shy of his sixth birthday.

It has taken me a long time to get over losing Sam, and the heartbreak of caring for him throughout his illness. There are times when I remember some of the cute things he did, or I might see one of the dogs at the shelter who looks like him, or has a mischevious look like Sam did, and I will have a little cry. I decided to volunteer at the refuge because although I am not Sam’s mum anymore, I still want to be able to love and care for dogs. At the moment, I cannot have a dog as we are in a rental property but volunteering at refuge is a rewarding way to spend time with a dog, and rather than just loving one dog its like having 100 dogs! Plus everyone at the shelter is there because they love animals, so its like being part of one big happy positive family that is focussed on the welfare on the dogs currently at the shelter.

In My Heart

I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new.

I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.

I think of you in silence. I often speak your name.

Now all I have is memories, and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is my keepsake, with which I’ll never part.

God has you in his keeping.
I have you in my heart.

In Loving Memory of Samuel

2 March 2000 – 15 February 2006

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  • Oh such a beautiful but also sad story. I too have just recently lost my dog Bear who we adopted from the Refuge 10 years ago, (my story is on Success stories) and I am still coming to terms with his loss but maybe in time I too may become a volunteer, it has certainly given me something to think about.

    Posted by Dana Nestor, 24/04/2012 1:23pm (6 years ago)

  • Such dedication and love to a beautiful, funny and mischevious dog, who was taken because he was needed elsewhere, way too soon for you but right for Sam.

    Posted by Trish, 18/07/2010 11:58pm (8 years ago)

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