There are dogs and cats, and then there are Sam Phinneys. You animal lovers know what I mean. When you look into their eyes, something special looks back at you. Yes, all animals are special, and I believe they all have souls. But Sam Phinneys have old souls. Perhaps they have more wisdom or intelligence, or maybe they are even our pet soul mates. I don’t know which, if any, it is, but I’d like to tell you about my Sam Phinney.
Sam was a Chow Chow. Chows are often misunderstood, because some are temperamental. But I’ve always liked them–especially Sam. Sam’s guardian, Mike, did business next door to my veterinary office. Mike would go do his errands, and Sam would stand outside our glass front door with his joyful tail-wagging, until someone would notice him and let him in. Sam loved everyone, and I mean everyone. He would visit with all of us — clients, other patients, staff, docs — until Mike was finished and ready to leave. He was the hit of the office.
I sold that practice to go back to school for advanced training. A couple of years went by, and I was having a typical neurology resident kind of day — crazy busy. As I was walking through the treatment room at my normal fast pace, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a Chow on a gurney. I heard someone say he had been hit by a car. He had a doc and plenty of caring students all around him, so there was no need for an extra pair of hands. I kept walking until I spotted a small tail wag. I about tripped over myself when I stopped dead in my tracks. Sam? Is that you? The tail went nuts. Sam had recognized me. And what’s more amazing is that even in his pain, Sam showed us what animals are really about. Love. They express it unconditionally, in bad and good times. Perhaps there’s a lesson there.
Oh, by the way, Sam made a complete recovery. No car was going to rain on his parade.
Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.