Sam has turned 18. He is the first dog rescued in the name of AHAR.

Sam was due to be put to sleep in a Dublin pound but thankfully my friend saved him and asked me to find him a home. Well….. The day i met him. He jumped into my jeep, sat on the front seat and looked at me with such wisdom. A big strong slob of a lab. Huge paws, beautiful big brown eyes and a tail that never stopped wagging.

So I said to him…”Don’t even… think about it! Your not staying, but I’ll find you a great home”. He looked at me as if to say… “Ya right! We have plans together”, then he threw his huge paw at me to give me the paw, never loosing eye contact with me…. i melted.

As I drove home, I could feel his eyes on me. When id look at him, he’d stare at me tail wagging. This was the start of an unbreakable bond. Sam was the first dog but more important the first pound dog. Little did i know at the time, how driven I would become to save pound dogs…. all because of Sam. He would change the course of history, and his story and public appearances would go on to save thousands of pound dogs all over Ireland.

He was the face of AHAR, and what AHAR would become.

At the time I ran a riding stables to raise money to save all the animals I could. Its was so hard to raise funds otherwise. So when I was teaching, Sam stood with a stone in his mouth looking up at me as if to say “Ah go on! Throw it!” (His nickname is Professor Stone. His world revolved around a stone). Then when I took the customers trekking, he was by my side in walk or gallop. He never let me out of his sight.

One day I had an American kid on a trek. A rabbit ran out in front of her pony and she fell off. I had to leave Sam with her and gallop a mile home to get my jeep. When I came back I could hear her laughing. There was Sam lying on her slapping her face with his paw.

This dog just blew me away of every day of every year.

Then he became chief fundraiser. I would plan a fundraiser, take Sam and stand with a bucket. I had done this before, but so few donated…. until Sam. I’d stand with a bucket, when someone would pass pretending not to see me…. Sam would step out and offer them his paw… hey presto, a donation. He was a pro. Everywhere we went, we took Sam. He became a huge celebrity. I couldn’t put a number on how much he has raised but its huge. He has saved more animals than it’s humanly possible. He taught me so much, I would never say I saved Sam. Sam saved me.

Our paths were meant to cross, he’s my soul mate. Then three years ago my world came crashing down. Sam had cancer. I just fell to the ground at my vets and cried my eyes out holding him. I begged Anita to save him. I got so upset I started vomiting in her sink. I couldn’t take it in. I couldn’t live without Sam.

So after I calmed down, we talked and made a decision to operate with the risk he might not wake up. I sat with him holding his paw for thirty minutes while Anita got ready to operate. My whole life flashed before my eyes. I wasn’t ready to let him go.

I held his paw while she sedated him. He knew something was wrong, but the poor soul had so much trust in me.

It was the longest forty minutes of my life. I sat in my jeep by the window where she was operating. I never prayed or cried so hard in my life. Little did I know his heart had stopped twice and Anita had zapped him back. Then Anita came out to me, looking shook and sweating. She said he’s alive but the next 24 hours will tell a lot. She said never want Sam’s life in my hands again, she joked. I’m gone grey.

The next day, there was Sam tail wagging waiting to go home. I nearly squeezed Anita to death and burst her ear drums screaming. What a woman! What a vet.

As I write this, he’s here lying on the kitchen floor. Tail wagging… waiting for his piece of apple tart that I promised him… his favourite thing in the world. Not much to ask for after all he has done for me.

Sam I love you with all my heart, you are my world. You’re a hero, a legend.

Happy birthday my beautiful boy xxxx