Sam crossed the Rainbow Bridge on July 22 at age 13.

Sam was so much more than a cherished family member in some really special ways. She was my teammate on over a hundred Home Visits we did for Gold Ribbon Rescue. While I interviewed the family, Sam interacted with them and their dog(s). She was truly a “chill dog”—I often described her as Mother Teresa on tranquilizers—and I could always rely on her to be a calming influence on both the family members and the resident dog(s). On some occasions her reactions and body language told me as much, or more, as I was learning from my conversation with the family. And a number of times the Home Visit ended with the family we were interviewing telling me “We want a dog just like Sam.” She also represented GRR at dozens of special events over the years.

Sam served with Therapy Pet Pals of Texas for over 12 years as a certified therapy dog, and during that time she had over 20,000(!) encounters with needy individuals. She taught me so much about helping others in a wide variety of challenging situations. Her areas of service included The University of Texas, Austin/Travis County 911 call center, Hurricane Harvey refugee shelters, Texas State Hospital, South Austin Medical Center, and multiple schools and geriatric care facilities. In 2013 she made national TV while comforting the residents of West after a fertilizer plant explosion devastated their town. In 2010 she was recognized by TPPT as an outstanding Dog of the Year out of about 200 dogs that were serving at that time. Her last assigned visitation sites were the Pflugerville Care Center and the Round Rock Police Dept.

Sam was also accepted for the U. of Washington Dog Aging Project designed to understand how genes, lifestyle, and environment influence aging and to help pets increase the amount of life spent free from disease.

Sam was truly a special girl and no words could ever express how much we grieve her passing.

Arlen Zander


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