It’s been a year.

I’m grateful for my canine companion, my rescue pup, Samwell … who goes by Sam, or whatever nickname I might be using at the moment.

I rescued Sam five years ago this month from Animal Friends Alliance, and I am not sure what I would have done without him by my side over the last year.

People have asked me during this pandemic year if I’ve been lonely, since I’m a single person and I’ve been mostly hunkered down. Honestly, I have not felt lonely because I enjoy my solitude and because of Sam.

He still goes to daycare three times a week, but we’re together every other day of the week. He’s become a bit more clingy and needy and was confused initially by people’s behavior at the start of the pandemic. Several neighbors would no longer pet him since there was so much uncertainty. That lasted a few months and I know he felt the freedom when those neighbors decided he wasn’t going to transmit the virus to them.

Sam is my reluctant traveler. We haven’t gone on many trips over the last year, but I had decided to book a cabin last Thanksgiving. We’d driven by some cabins in Bailey, Colorado, at some point and I thought it would be a great getaway.

When we left Fort Collins, the weather was incredibly warm in November. In Bailey, there was several inches of snow on the ground and I was glad that I had grabbed some boots at the last minute (having checked the weather forecast).

Sam is great in the car, but on edge the first night we’re in a new place.

In our cabin, there was a daybed next to the glass door. He sat on that bed for most of the night, no doubt watching whatever animal might have been wandering by. We were right off the small highway but set back far enough that there wasn’t a lot of noise.

By the second night, he had settled in more and felt that we were safe. We went out hiking each day, and walked by some horses on the property. The weather warmed up a bit before we left and we went for a hike in a state park on a day when the fees were waived. The latter wasn’t necessarily a highlight but due to work, I’m not always able to take advantage of those days, so it felt good.

I know that many people have been able to and made the choice during the last year to rescue a dog or other animals. I wholeheartedly endorse that decision. You’ll never feel alone, or will rarely. Not sure how it works with cats, but dogs are a lot of work. I remember in the two weeks after I rescued Sam and was working on house training having that realization hit me hard. I never considered taking him back to the shelter but you have to be dedicated and dogs change your life. I live in a place where I don’t have a yard, which means walking Sam up to five times a day. And when he feels sick, that means waking up at 1, 2 and 3 a.m. to take him outside, since he is smart enough to wake me up to take him outside.

He’s truly become my best friend over the last year. That sounds cliché, I know, but it is true. And I’m grateful for what he brings to my life.

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