Bless You Sammy
A short story
The boy called his name. He could still just about hear the young masters' voice. "Sammy, come here boy." Sammy the black, now mostly grey Labrador, slowly made his way to the door, his tail wagging to greet Timmy at the front door of the family bungalow. He heard the key in the lock and then the door opened and in walked Timmy in his school uniform, followed by the cold wind. Sammy did his best to jump up like he used to, but his old legs wouldn't jump any more. Timmy closed the door to keep the cold out and bent down and hugged his best pal, now 15 years old. "Hello, old boy," he said, as he stroked the old Labrador behind his floppy ears. "Come on, let me do your dinner for you. You must be hungry." Sammy followed Timmy at a slow pace, he remembered when Timmy was born and watched him grow to his 10 years of age as he was now. Those days it was fun, as Timmy grew up slowly. When Timmy started walking, he used to hold on to Sammy for balance in the early stages, now Timmy had to help him stand up sometimes. The medicine helped a little, but his old joints were very creaky nowadays, not like the times he used to run alongside Timmy when he rode his bike. They were wonderful memories for the old dog.
Timmy put Sammy's food on the floor for him and then got a Coke out of the fridge, opened it and then went to his bedroom to change. He hung his school uniform up neatly and changed into casual wear. He then opened his school bag and took out his homework for the day. Not too much today, so he took it into the kitchen and settled down to completing it before his parents got home from the shop they owned in Brighton. Sammy finished his food and nudged Timmy's foot as the signal he wanted to go out into the garden. Timmy stood and went to the back door into the rear garden and opened it for Sammy to go and do his business. He had to help the old boy down the steps and later he would help him back up again. The sun was still out and warm, so Sammy made the best of the heat to warm his sore limbs. When he was ready to come back in, he gave his soft bark and Timmy helped him up the steps this time.
At 6-15PM on the dot, Timmy's parents arrived back home. By now, all the boy's homework was finished and old Sammy was sleeping fitfully in his bed. "Hi Timmy. Son, how are you, a good day at school?" That was Timmy's dad followed by his mother, who wanted to know how Sammy was.
"School was good, dad, thanks and Sammy is still hurting." Both parents looked a bit glum, knowing that it would not be long now before poor old Sammy would be passing over.
"You look after him very well, Timmy," his mother said. "He still has some quality of life that he enjoys."
"I know mum, but I hate to see him hurting. Even the medicine is not working too well now."
"We don't want you to hurt either, Timmy," his dad said. "We will take him to the vet again tomorrow and see what he advises. You might have to accept he has to be put to sleep, son. If the vet says that is best, how will you feel?"
"I shall be alright dad. I have steeled myself to him dying soon in any case. If the vet says he can't help his pain any more, I would prefer he was put to sleep. I will be sad, but I want what is best for Sammy."
Timmy's eyes welled up a bit, but he managed to hold back any real tears.
Tonight was his parent's bridge club night and lately, they had left him on his own for the one and a half hours they were gone, as they considered he was old enough to look after himself for the short while. They left at 8 pm., as usual and would be back at 10 pm. As it turned out, they would be delayed by a flat tyre and did not return home until 11 pm. They unlocked the front door and went inside. Firstly, they looked in on Timmy's bedroom and found him missing. Thinking it strange, they looked through the bungalow and found Timmy lying unconscious by the old cat flap on the back door. It was left from when they had a cat so that the animal could get in and out. Alongside him was Sammy, whose nose was holding the flap open.
Timmy's mum said she was feeling a bit dizzy and his dad was feeling the same. "We'd better open the back door love and get an ambulance here, fast."
He pulled out his mobile phone and dialled 999. His call was answered quite quickly and was told an ambulance was on its way. In less than five minutes, the ambulance was at the front of the house. The paramedics immediately put an oxygen mask onto Timmy's face and checked his pulse.
One of the paramedics asked if they had a gas boiler. Timmy's mum told them they had and led the way to it. The paramedic pulled out a small appliance and switched it on. It immediately began to make a loud beeping sound.
"I am sorry Madam, your boiler is pushing out carbon monoxide. It is a deadly poison. I have turned it off so it is safe now. You are lucky your son and the dog managed to get to the fresh air at the cat flap, or your son could well be dead."
"How did they get to the back door then?" Timmy's mother asked.
"I have a thought," the paramedic said. "I have a feeling that the dog dragged your son to the flap and saved his life."
"Oh God, we have been so concentrated on Timmy and ourselves we forgot to look at Sammy." With that she rushed to the back door, to find that Timmy was sitting up talking. She hugged Timmy and then went to Sammy. The paramedic was kindly checking Sammy out and turned to shake his head.
"Sammy worked so hard to save Timmy, I suspect his old heart gave out."
Two days later, a fit and well Timmy, helped by his dad, carried Sammy's body to the bottom of the garden, where a deep hole had been dug by his father. Timmy and his dad lay Sammy into the hole and covered him with earth and then put two garden slabs over the top to stop him being disturbed by other animals.
Timmy had written some words to be said over the grave. Trying his hardest not to cry, Timmy said. "My best friend, Sammy, gave his life, so that I could live. He was brave and courageous. He never thought of himself and I will love him forever. Please look after his bold doggie soul, God." Then the tears did flow.
Timmy's parents took him indoors to calm down. The man who was fitting the carbon monoxide detector, said he was finished and not to use the boiler until it had been replaced. Timmy's parents thanked him for his work and let him out of the front door. The new boiler would be another week before it could be installed and so the family decided to go and visit Timmy's grandparents in Spain for a week. Permission was granted from the school and a couple of friends would run the shop.
Arriving at Malaga airport, the family were met by the maternal grandparents and driven to their small villa near Marbella. Timmy had been once before to visit and remembered his way around. His first objective was Ben, his grandparents German shepherd dog. Ben welcomed Timmy with a bark and an enthusiastic wag of his tail. Timmy was momentarily upset, as he remembered his old pal Sammy, but within a short space of time, he was romping around with Ben, like they were joined at the hip.
The break did all the family good and on their return to the UK, there was a lot of posts lying on the floor. Timmy's dad always looked after the post, as most of it was to do with the business. Timmy sat watching the TV, while his mother made some dinner for them. Timmy heard his father call and he went to see what he wanted.
"Here son, look at this letter, it is from the PDSA, I am sorry I opened it."
Timmy picked up the letter and read it out loud.
It is our pleasure to inform you, that your brave dog, Sammy, has been awarded the highest award that the PDSA can award to an animal, The PDSA Gold Medal. The medal committee decided unanimously to award this high award to Sammy for his bravery and devotion to his young master and saving his life by giving his own.
Please attend to the Grosvenor Hotel London on the 1st of March, where you and your family will spend the night, ready for the presentation on the afternoon of the 2nd March.
RSVP to the address above.
Timmy couldn't believe his eyes and read the letter again. "Dad, it's for Sammy, how wonderful." He ran to tell his mother, who was so excited, she almost scalded herself with hot water.
"Timmy, that is wonderful news, and yes, we will definitely go." And raising her voice, said "Won't we dad?"
"Won't we what dear?"
"Go to the medal ceremony."
"Just you try and stop me, wife, dear," he replied with a cheery sound.
Timmy moved fast and gave them both a hug.
Timmy and his parents had thought hard about getting a replacement for Sammy, but decided against it until after the medal ceremony next month.
The 1st of March came around quite quick and with cases packed, the family made their way to the Grosvenor Hotel by Underground, train and Underground again. They went up to the reception and Timmy presented the invitation. The receptionist smiled and welcomed them. Calling for a page, he gave them their suite key and the page led the way to the lift. The suite was on the top floor and the suite was called 'The Cora Pearl Boudoir suite.' As soon as the door opened, the family gasped. It was luxury supreme. Timmy quickly did a tour, followed more slowly by his parents. The suite seemed as big as their bungalow. There was complimentary fruit, flowers and champagne. The page placed the cases in the suite and asked Timmy's parents if they would like him to open the champagne for them. Dad thanked him and said that it would be very kind. The page opened the bottle with a loud pop. He then poured three glasses out, forgetting perhaps, that Timmy was a tad young to drink alcohol. Timmy's parents thanked the young man and Timmy's dad passed him a generous tip. Timmy's mum and dad picked up the glasses of bubbly and raised them high. Seeing Timmy not picking up a glass, his dad said. "Just this once son, this is for Sammy."
Timmy gripped the glass and held it high, like his parents.
"Here's to the memory of Sammy," his dad said and they touched their glasses together. Mum and dad sipped the champagne, but Timmy, not knowing what it tasted like, took a big swig and ended up with bubbles back down his nose that made him cough. His parents laughed, but then encouraged Timmy to sip it and not swig it, like you would a coke. Timmy tried that and they all slowly finished the champagne and placed the glasses back on the tray. Although there was more drink in the bottle, they decided against any more and went down for dinner.
The restaurant was as equally luxurious as the suite. They were shown to a table for three, close to the pianist. A waiter appeared with an extensive menu. There would be five courses to get through and Timmy had to get help from his parents to find out what some of the dishes were. He decided to have the same as his dad, as it sounded good and uncomplicated. Fortunately, the restaurant stayed with what his parents called proper food, not like some of the modern ones, who served tiny portions on a plate called 'novae cuisine'.
They started with whitebait, tiny complete fish fried in savoury flour. This was followed by a Caesar salad. The main course was Timmy's favourite, a lovely tender steak, with chips and corn on the cob in cream. He passed on the cheese and biscuits and finished his meal with a gorgeous selection of ice creams. They didn't have coffee, as they had the makings in the suite and it was getting late. Timmy was yawning a lot and was ready for bed by the time they were back upstairs. His parents made some coffee and said goodnight to Timmy, as he headed off to his room and bed. He brushed his teeth and fell into bed and was asleep in minutes.
In the morning, Timmy awoke refreshed from a good nights sleep and put on the dressing gown supplied and went into the lounge. There, he made a cup of tea and waited for his parents to appear. He went to the window and looked down on London. For early Saturday morning, it was already very busy out there. He heard a sound behind him and turned to see his mother standing there with a smile in her face.
"Today's the day, Timmy. We have rehearsals this morning and then we have a communal lunch with the other winners. After that, it will be the presentations."
There would be stars from television and a special guest to do the actual presenting of the medals and awards. This year, it was The Duchess of Cambridge.
Rehearsals went well and everyone was very friendly towards the families and animals involved. Finally at 3 pm, the PDSA Director came on stage and gave his speech to the attendant audience, TV cameras and press. The lounge was electric with excitement. As the Duchess was introduced, a young girl presented her with a bouquet of flowers and then the presentations began. TV stars introduced each recipient to the Duchess, who said a few quiet words to each recipient before handing the award.
After the introduction explaining what Timmy's dog Sammy had done and why he was getting the award posthumously, it was finally Timmy's turn. Shaking with nerves, he walked onto the stage and bowed to the Duchess. She spoke at length with Timmy, far longer than any of the others, so far. Finally, she pinned the medal onto Timmy's lapel and shook his hand and said something else that brought tears to his eyes. Seeing she had upset him, she quickly drew him to her in a hug quietly consoling him. It was not until he had quieted down, that she let him leave the stage. When he got back to his seat, he had calmed down enough to show the medal proudly to his parents.
The presentations finished at 5 pm and the Duchess left, with a smile and a wave to the audience, who thanked her by giving her very loud applause.
Back in the suite, the family packed their bags, ready to return home. Before they made their way to the Underground, Timmy's dad asked him what the Duchess had said that made him cry.
"She said that Sammy must have been someone very special and loved, for him to give his life to save, Timmy." She had added. "I bet somewhere out there, is a sad and lonely dog, that I could love like Sammy."
Timmy teared up a bit again and said, "Dad, mum, could we go to the Dogs Trust tomorrow and have a look?"
Both his parents hugged him and said almost together, "Of course we can, Timmy, 9 o'clock sharp."
"You both knew, didn't you?" Timmy said.
"Yes, Timmy, we did. You had looked so unhappy ever since Sammy passed on, we had a word with the organisers. The Duchess knew all about it. That is why she said to you, what she did."
The next morning sharp on 9 o'clock, the family arrived at the rescue home and went in to reception. The lady there recognised Timmy straight away and took him on his own to look at all the dogs looking for a new home.
They walked slowly along the line of cages. Desperate dogs jumped up at the cages trying to attract attention. The numbers of dogs slowly diminished until right at the very last cage was a puppy. He was a black Labrador, laying there quietly in his cage. Timmy quietly whistled to the pup and it slowly came to the cage door, sniffed Timmy and wagged his tail. "He is lovely,." Timmy said. "What's his name?"
"Look on the door Timmy. His name is up there."
Timmy looked and saw a name tag in small print which read. 'Sammy Too. 5 months old.'
Timmy gasped and asked. "How can he have a name Sammy Too? It's funny."
The lady said. "That is true, Timmy, but an old man brought him in and told us a young boy would want him to love and care for, because he had lost his old dog, Sammy. He then laughed and said to us. This is Sammy, too."
Timmy laughed out loud, asked to hold Sammy Too and the lady opened the cage door. Sammy Too leaped up at Timmy, who picked him up into his arms. Sammy Too christened the new partnership, by peeing on Timmy's front as he held him. Then he promptly licked Timmy's face all over. That was it, no arguments; Sammy Too was Sammy 2 now and soon to be just Sammy.
Timmy carried his new best friend out to meet his parents in the reception. "Mum, dad, this is Sammy 2. Isn't he lovely?"
Timmy's parents both agreed and paid the lady for his keep over the last few weeks, plus a donation to the home for their good works.
Back outside and in the car, Timmy held his new pal, while his mum whispered to her husband saying.
"That was a brilliant idea of yours, taking the pup to the home and giving him that name."
Her husband winked at her and said. "I'm not just a pretty face."