Samantha was well known in town.  She had one of the most devoted owners, always taking Sam for a walk when first getting out of bed, then another one later in the day (which was when I often met up with Angie, since I am not a morning person).   My memories are filled with images years ago of Blue and Santé, and also Eliza and Juno.  We’d chat by the swimming hole on the river trail for an hour or more while the dogs did what dogs do, and other people came and went.  It didn’t matter if it was summer or winter, and I recall vividly we stood out there in a blizzard once, getting soaked with wet snow, but didn’t leave because the dogs were having so much fun.   While my dogs were always swimming, retrieving, or just running around saying hello to friends passing by, Sam was usually on the other side of the river, busy digging in the snow for rocks.  It was her obsession, and although it was hard on her shoulders, when a dog gets older you generally hesitate stopping them from doing what they love.  It didn’t matter how deep the snow was, or how long it took her.  She was patient and kept at it, occasionally barking as if that would unearth them faster.   Near the end of Sam’s life and after I lost Blue, I took Willa on our playdates, and we expanded our winter swimming hole outings to walking past the sledding hill to the waterfall and around the beaver pond.  Walking was better for Sammy’s joints, and Willa was happy to lead the way.

Change came quickly this winter.  Sam was suddenly not herself, and ultimately was diagnosed with lymphoma.  She was almost 12, and was deeply afraid of any vet clinic, so weekly chemo was not an option although it might have brought a period of remission.  Chosing to do what is best for your dog and not for yourself is a difficult choice sometimes, knowing that by choosing their quality of life over your own selfish desire to keep them with you, you are ultimately choosing to break your own heart earlier than you have to.  I took these photos shortly before Sam died.  Samantha was losing stamina, and so this was a very brief session, but Angie had told me that she only had one photo of them in all their years together, and it was important to me that the places she loved and the activities she enjoyed were documented before she left us.

If you were lucky enough to know Sam, you were always greeted with a lot of whining, squinty eyes, a lowered head and her famous grin. Unfortunately when I met with Angie, Samantha had her tennis ball, so I didn’t get her smiling as she ran to me, but you get the idea….
She was quite the charmer.

We headed to the waterfall through the woods, and she happily plopped down to munch on her tennis ball, not looking sick at all….just happy to be out in the snow.

A close up of those gorgeous eyelashes….
A bit of love….

 Even at nearly twelve years old and with cancer, she loved to have her ball thrown in deep snow so she could dig it up…or just toss a snowball, it’s just as fun!

Hello down there, I’m ready to go to the river now!

 I love the big swish of her tail….
These two photos are how I would often come across Angie and Sam as I crossed the bridge.  Angie sitting in the sun, throwing rocks into the river for Sam.  If there was snow piled up on the rocks in the middle of the river, that was even more fun, and Sam would happily dig for them until Angie made her stop.

She was a bit greedy.  She already has one rock in her mouth, but is waiting to get another one!

 And of course she will!  Sam will have to figure out which one is best.  :) Here it comes….We got very lucky this day.  This past winter was filled with gloomy days, and weeks would pass with just hints of sun.  The morning we planned to meet, it looked to be just as dreary, but the skies cleared up for about an hour, and long enough for me to get these photos.  Sam did not seem sick this day – just a bit tired, but happy to be doing the things she loved most with the person she loved most.  Her eyes were happy and she was excited to be going to her favorite places.   We had chosen a good day.   She was gone about a week after I took these photos.  She will be greatly missed.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
~Khalil Gibran

Carolyn OK, let me wipe away the tears and tell you how beautiful and touching everything about this is. This has to be one of your best ever. Maybe it is because I knew Sam and miss her too. Angie will treasure these. ❤️

Honey I seem to have a stray dog hair in my eye… this was truly beautiful. I am so glad the weather held for you to get these shots in time. Love these ❤️

Susana These are beautiful photos. Angie I’m so sorry for the loss of your lovely Sam. There was such a wonderful light and soul in her eyes, she must have been very special. I hold a special place in my heart for goldens, and am hoping my Schenley welcomed your girl at the gates of the bridge. Run free beautiful Sam xx

Candice What a. beautiful did. The pictures are great! I love the close up profile the best!

Annette Rose Jen, you have captured the love and devotion between Sam and Angie perfectly…the bond we share with our beloved best friends is unparalleled. So glad you have these wonderful pictures into their lives together for Angie to cherish 🐾💕

Don F Some fantastic shots of a beautiful dog, but I know they are so much more than just pictures to Angie. Just wonderful.

Elisa Becker Gorgeous pictures of a beautiful dog. Our time with our beloved dogs is never long enough. So very sorry for your loss Angie. It looks like you and Sam had a very special relationship.

Krista Kersh These photos of dear Samantha are lovely indeed! I first saw Samantha many years ago when we would come to Telluride with our first Golden, Emmitt, and I loved watching her and Angie along the river trail. Then, as the years wore on, our new boy, Finn, would come to Telluride and Sam and Angie were still there and we became friends. My heart goes out to Angie because I know Sam was her everything. That said, Samantha lives forever in Angie’s heart and is beautifully immortalized in these stunningly touching photos…gorgeous work, Jen. Samantha was a beauty. RIP sweet golden girl xo.

Carol What a beautiful girl…and what beautiful memories you made together. Try to fill the hole she has left in your heart with all the love she gave you throughout her life.
You’ll be together again at the Bridge. Hugs and prayers to you.

Randy Hicks A highlight of our trips to Telluride was always bumping into Sam and Angie on the trail with our boy Emmitt and later with Finn. Sam’s beautiful spirit is captured in these photos as is the love between the two blondes and fun at the swimming hole too. A life too short but Heaven could not be sweeter.

Cindy Beautiful tribute to a wonderful team, Angie and Sam. I know these photos will provide some comfort. Well done

Heidi Christmann Such an incredibly beautiful tribute for your beautiful friend. Her eyes were filled with love and excitement to be doing her favorite things. Hope she is swimming and digging for rocks at the bridge <3!

Cecil Very touched, such beautiful pictures of a special love. You did the best of the best with this tribute Jen.

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