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A Tribute to a Fallen Companion

“Sam is down,” my wife shouted from our back deck.

Our beloved GSD had been outside since early morning with our female.

Without hesitation, I ran out to see Sampson lying the the grass on his belly as if asleep, the aging dog unresponsive to a call for his morning meal. With a clatter on the steps, I was beside him in an instant. Flies surrounded him. Not good. I touched him and spoke his name. Sam barely opened his eyes but seemed to recognize my presence. He was breathing, he was alive.

We loaded him into my SUV and rushed him to the local vet with a warning call he was coming. In a scant few minutes, we arrived at the vet’s office and where I helped transfer Sam to a gurney, one of his legs gone rigid. Really not good.

We were ushered into a waiting room and the vet soon arrived with news. Sam was not going to make it. A few minutes passed and he returned with the sad news that our nearly 13 year old dog had died, apparently having ingested something poisonous.

The dog that primarily inspired the dog character Spark from The Bow of Hart Saga has passed, leaving a sudden emptiness in our household and an even bigger one in our hearts.

For the last year or so, I’ve watched Sam get a little slower, his joints bothering him so it was harder to go upstairs. It was evident that good old Sam didn’t have that many years left, though I thought he’d make it to 15. It was not to be as it appears he got a quick taste of engine coolant left over from a single car accident on a side-road where we walk the dogs. The pieces – and the pooled coolant – were in the high grass and Sam got just enough to start a final count-down on his life. I knew I would one day have to write the announcement but did not expect it so soon, certainly not since he was clearly healthy last Friday and eager for a walk. He seemed fine when we went to bed. Saturday morning, he died after being outside for a while where the poison finished it’s deadly job when the dogs went out for their early morning constitutional within the fenced backyard while we slept-in a while and I went for a run.

Sam was special enough to become a much-needed character in The Bow of Hart Saga and I’ve written about him a few times in the past. But in tribute to his life, I thought I’d share just what made him so special in the first place. Sampson was a big dog, weighing about a hundred pounds in his younger days, but his personality was far bigger than his physical presence. He was a dog that had a little more intellect, a little more understanding of people and quite a lot of character himself.

The dog who was Spark loved people. He could have been a Wal-Mart greeter for those who remember when people stood at the doors to the retail stores and spoke to everyone entering. Sam loved visitors and grew downright giddy over small children and babies so much so that we’d often put him outside so he would not accidentally hurt anyone in his excitement. And yes, he loved puppies whenever he met them. When people met Sam, we almost always heard from visitors that he was a wonderful dog when they left. He was a lovable, gentle giant.

Sam came to our home to guard the house from inside the fence. He learned commands and tricks readily but loved being with us most. He was ever-present, hardly leaving our side in the evening. Sampson’s mother was pure black and his father was pure white and both were obviously intelligent dogs when we met them to choose same for our family. Sam inherited his father’s friendly, good-natured personality, even a very good nose often possessed by white shepherds. From his mother, Sam got his trickster nature – she wanted to greet us on our visit but his father so took our attention that she distracted him by encouraging the puppies to play with him. Our choice ended up being Sam who was pure black on his back and white on his belly where most German Shepherds are black and brown. People loved the distinctive coat pattern but him even more.

The trickster side of Sam was not evident until we brought home his smaller companion, a female runt from the litter of a real German police dog we named Chloe. She’s a very serious, rowdy dog who stole Sam’s bone, defended her food and horned in on the attention. Sam soon learned to play off Chloe’s assertive nature to get what he wanted. If he had a bone and she took it, he would go eat her left-over food noisily to get her snarling at him in the kitchen. Then, he would happily take the bone back. Once I was patting his head and Chloe came over to get attention which I was happy to give. Sam then chose to go find a bone and chew on it so Chloe would take it away. Then he returned to me for his attention. He often played her like a fiddle with these tricks.

Sam really exhausted himself Labor Day of 2017. He had to half-carry him to a trail because of his arthritic hip afterward.

There were other funny sides to this dog. I could scare him or startle him in some way and he just loved having someone get a trick over on him. But one of the most heart-warming moments was when he realized he could swim once he waded into a swimming hole. He went nuts, splashing around as he swam, enjoying the new-found ability he didn’t know he had until that moment. He was such a big kid that day.

One time, he visited the Gulf of Mexico and his reaction was one of complete amazement at what he saw. You could almost hear the kid in him shout, “WATER!” The surf was rough and Sam loved being bowled over continually. That night he was sore, exhausted and contented. A few days later, the surf was very calm and he enjoyed paddling around and playing until he was exhausted. He made himself sick on the salt water but had the time of his life.

We took him back to that swimming hole a few years ago, now is last trip there, and he completely wore himself out again, this time playing in a small waterfall, snapping at all the water flowing over his face. Those are good memories. He loved playing in leaf-piles, wading through fresh one with glee each Fall. We had a small, older cat when Sam arrived and he just loved her. Once though, he just walked up to her, opened his mouth and closed it around her head – didn’t hurt her at all. When I said something, Sam looked like he was caught and I can only imagine he just wanted to know if her head would fit in his mouth. The cat was annoyed.

Sam’s softer side often came out whenever one of us was upset. He seemed to have an excellent radar for sour moods and often approached to console us. He was always ready with a cheerful presence that will be missed all too soon. He could easily have been any kind of service dog. I would have loved to have gotten him trained as a search and rescue dog. Finding and helping people would have suited him well. We never had the funds to put into that kind of training so it’s a missed opportunity. He was a comforting presence and I even miss him lying at the bedside already.

He loved that little waterfall in the background and stood in it to snap playfully at the water.

The most famous attribute Sam possessed was his ability to talk with his tail. My wife said she’d never seen a dog communicate quite like him. This dog had an unusually good understanding of a large number of words. When he was focused, you could ask him questions and get answers from tail-wags – or the lack of one – meaning yes or no. It seems crazy to many people but you could ask him a series of yes/no questions to which you could expect answers consistently. Then you asked a question you to which you didn’t know the answer and laugh at Sam’s take. You can read a few of these here and here. It was the basis of how Spark communicated with Athson all along – though the character didn’t realized it until late in the series. Sam once asked for a pet cat (long after the other one died) so he was happy with the new arrival of a tom-cat a couple of years ago. He was quite protective and didn’t want his pet to go outside – that’s in one of those links if you want to read about it.

There were so many funny, heart-warming tales and aspects to Sampson than I could write in one blog. He was ever-present with us for these last dozen years and it seems like several decades since he arrived and yet it seems far too soon that he’s gone. The events were shockingly fast to the system and we’ll be adjusting, always thinking he’s there in the way that a big dog always is. I hope this gives you a good idea of why Sam is so beloved. His surviving side-kick, Chloe is confused at his absence, uncertain what exactly happened though she knows he got sick. She’s slowly understanding the new normal without Sam. We’re all understanding that the day after.

So passes a dog who embodied all too well the moniker of “man’s best friend” having lived his life well and to the fullest. He’s left a message still for us all as I consider his life that we should live each day well. I have no doubt he enjoyed his final walk on Friday evening as much as any other, only to be gone the next morning so suddenly.

We each lifted a glass in toast to his life on Saturday night, a life well-lived with simply joy and constant faithfulness. We then talked of our memories with Sampson with a hint of disbelief in our stories over his sudden, permanent absence. So now, I offer a final word to the best of companions. Farewell, old friend. Our time was far too short and your loyalty far more steadfast than we deserved.

In Memory of Sampson “Sam”

The dog who inspired Spark in The Bow of Hart Saga

8/26/2006 – 7/27/2019

R.I.P.

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Interviews With Tordug Part 3: The White Arrow

The following post is a fictitious news report based on events from The White Arrow, Book Three of The Bow of Hart Saga:

The Grendon Bugle/Free-Press
“The clear call of truth with the rising sun.”

Date-line: Auguron City
By Maroch Karkholm, roving reporter on assignment with the Grendonese mission to Auguron on behalf of Princess Limbreth.

Maroch Karkholm here, reporting on events as they unfold in Auguron City. This reporter has been on assignment with the royal emissary sent to find the missing Princess Limbreth. After many days of waiting and filing interest stories about the culture of Auguron and its citizenry, word arrived that an army of trolls marched west toward the city. After several weeks, the main force of Auguron’s eastern garrison arrived by fleet of river-boats.

Among this contingent of rangers were a Withling, a giant, two particular rangers, two dwarves and none other than Princess Limbreth. While this reporter has been unable to interview the princess, I have been able to sit down with one of the dwarves who traveled in her company these last months. What follows are the surprising details:

Maroch: I understand you’ve traveled with Princess Limbreth these last months. Can you tell us more your involvement and who you are?

Dwarf: I’m Tordug of Chokkra and I have been honored to travel and fight in the company of Princess Limbreth of Grendon, Ax-maid of the death-grip, the Silver Lady and Protector of Travelers.

Maroch: Excuse me, Tordug. Did you say you were from Chokkra?

Tordug: Yes, I did say that.

Maroch: Then you were named for the infamous former ruler of that fallen dwarven-realm? Or perhaps, you bare the same name?

Tordug: I am none other than the very same former ruler.

Maroch: My apologies for not recognizing you, sir. I have many questions if you have time to speak with me further. I do not wish to intrude.”

Tordug: I have some time before I must go meet with Captain Sarneth about the defense of the city.

Maroch: Then you must also have knowledge of the troll invasion in which we Grendonese intend to avoid being entangled?

Tordug: I do know much of the events and plans for the defense as a consultant to the captain. However, I’m not at liberty to speak of these details at this time so tread carefully with your questions.

Maroch: I see. And, pardon me for asking, but Captain Sarneth has no qualms about receiving your assistance considering your past history with the fall of your own realm?

Tordug: My past is exactly that, my past. However, who better to consult than someone who has known the tactics of the enemy from the past? I have no authority among these elves but they have accepted my offer of service and knowledge.

Maroch: When did you find out that the trolls were invading?

Tordug: Hmmm, I suppose that’s no secret. We encountered them while traveling through the Troll Heaths. We discovered their movements just after a snowstorm and the wandering star appeared in the eastern night sky. It was just after, well, other events. We hurried to inform the elven garrison so that the contingent might not be overwhelmed by the horde and yet warn travelers on the trade road.

Maroch: You say you and your party were in the Troll Heaths and discovered the invasion. That region is reputed to be rather dangerous. Were you aware that a member of your party was a member of the Grendonese royal family?

Tordug: Yes, but I found out only after we were well into our quest. As far as any of us knew, the princess was someone who chose the company of Withling Hastra.

Maroch: Ah, yes, some on Grendon have insinuated that the Withling abducted or bewitched the princess and-

Tordug: I can assure you that is not the case. Princess Limbreth accompanied Withling Hastra of her own choice. If you wish to know the reasons, you may ask her.

Maroch: I see. Well, there is rumor there was nearly an altercation with the Grendonese emissary, Count Dareth of Tinnewell, just after she arrived with the elven garrison. Do you confirm or deny such events?

Tordug: (He laughed, very hard and long). There was indeed a heated discussion between this Dareth and the princess in the street. They almost came to blows. I fear he would have soon found himself in danger from Princess Limbreth had not Captain Sarneth intervened.

Maroch: Wait, you say between the princess and the count? You do realize they are betrothed, don’t you?

Tordug: (He laughed long and hard again before he answered). If they are, it’s a rather one-sided affair, more on his hapless part, I should think. But what of it?

Maroch: You were there and Count Dareth was sent by King Hamgas to retrieve Princess Limbreth. Why didn’t you hand the princess over at that time?

Tordug: (Again, he laughed very hard before he answered). Princess Limbreth goes where she wants and with whomever she wants. And with I doubt it will ever be with this Count Dareth unless the one she does want doesn’t live through the coming attack.

Maroch: Wait, are you saying that the princes loves another man? Who is he?

Tordug: Oh, enough of these questions of idle gossip. If you want to know more, ask her yourself. All I will say is that she’s entitled to choose whomever she wishes. She is highly honored among my people as an Ax-maid of the death-grip and someone who has proven her bravery many times over in recent months. Good day to you.

This reporter has been unable to gather any other information about all these events or what happened on the adventure of Princess Limbreth’s. None of her companions, including Withling Hastra, have made themselves available even after formal messages were sent to them. However, it is clear that there is another man in her life of whom no one knows, mostly likely someone she met on her travels. That Princess Limbreth has won renown among the dwarves is of great surprise and will certainly please His Majesty. For now, all else remains a mystery to this reporter who leaves this very hour with the Grendonese contingent ahead of the invasion. One can only hope that the princess will see the wisdom of leaving with the well-trained cavalry sent to guard her return to Grendon.

From the endangered city of Auguron, this is Marock Karkholm, roving reporter and still on the trail of the mysteries surrounding Princess Limbreth.

Look for more of these fun reports about the series. If you are interested in The Bow of DestinyAn Arrow Against the Wind or the newly released, final edition, The White Arrow, please click the appropriate link for the book-page. Following is the link to find out more about The White Arrow where it can be downloaded for free via Kindle Unlimited:

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Interviews With Tordug Part 1: The Bow of Destiny

The following post is a fictitious news report based on events from The Bow of Destiny, Book One of The Bow of Hart Saga:

The Auguron Wind-Times
Brazen Troll-Attack Near Marston’s Station

Date-line: Marston’s Station, Auguron Forest
By Rowigan Skaulter, Roving Reporter

This evening was disturbed by turmoil around Marston’s Station which roused this reporter from sleep. Reports are coming in this evening of a troll attack when travelers approached this very way-station. Events are unclear at the moment, but trolls becoming so bold as to attack as far as the station are ominous.

While rumors of other attacks much further east have not yet been confirmed with the rangers guarding the roads, this reporter has been able to substantiate these local claims of fighting.

When I descended to the common room, I found the entire number of overnight visitors roused amid a storm of confusion. I saw one young woman brought in by a giant, an unusual sight in these parts, to be sure. The woman seemed wounded as her arm was covered in blood.

What follows is my interview with a dwarf who seemed to have been part of a scuffle, judging by the blood-spatter on his clothing.

Rowigan: “Sir, you look like you’ve been in a fight. Can you tell us your name?”

Dwarf: “Uh, Tordug.”

Rowigan: “Mr. Tordug, do you-”

Tordug: “Just Tordug.”

Rowigan: “Do you mean, Tordug the Just?”

Tordug: “No, Tordug.”

Rowigan: “Oh, I’m so sorry, it’s so loud in the tavern now. The men seem to be celebrating about something. Tell us what happened, Tordug.”

Tordug: “Well, some travelers arrived, shouting about trolls attacking on the road, just east of here. They said the brutes shot arrows at them. Then they said they were missing two of their party. So a bunch of us grabbed our weapons and ran off along the road to help.”

Rowigan: “I see, so there were trolls? What did you find?”

Tordug: “We got there just in time. There was a young woman astride a horse and a young ranger fighting alone against a pack of trolls. The moon rose back east and shined on the woman so she glowed like silver.”

Rowigan: “I heard mention of this woman and saw a human female brought in by a giant. Is that the same person? Was she wounded?”

Tordug: “Well, we fought off the trolls and found she was wounded but the ranger had only a few minor scrapes.”

Rowigan: “So there were trolls who were driven off into the night and one wounded in the fighting. Is that correct, Tordug?”

Tordug: “Yes, we drove them away. But the Withling healed the woman, her name’s Limbreth, I think. But she lost blood so she passed out anyway. Had an arrow-wound.”

Rowigan: “Withling? There’s a Withling in Auguron? Now that’s news, indeed! Can you point her out? I’d like to interview her.”

Tordug: “Uh, I don’t see her around just now. But she was there, I’m certain.”

Rowigan: “So the young woman is this Silver Lady, these men are talking of in all this celebration?”

Tordug: “Yes, it is. My friend and I will be composing a dwarven verse about her bravery on the road. She rode back wounded for the ranger.”

Rowigan: “That’s is a deed worth a song. And this giant, do you know his part in the tale tonight.”

Tordug: “He was with the Withling and the others that got attacked.”

Rowigan: “What? The Withling was attacked too? And this giant was with them? You’re sure of the details?”

Tordug: “Yes, I saw them when they arrived.”

Rowigan: “Well, Tordug, it was fortunate for this Limbreth, and the ranger, that you and your friends responded so quickly. Thank you for sharing your account tonight. Auguron owes you a debt of gratitude for your quick and decisive response to the danger.”

Tordug: “That’s what we dwarves do with trolls.”

And there you have the full account of the attack as this reporter has discovered directly from someone who fought in the altercation not far from Marston’s Station this evening. I’ll work to obtain an interview with this Withling and the blessing of such a rare appearance in Auguron Forest. We’ll have more to report from all across Auguron regarding the rumored, and troubling, incursions further east as we travel west toward Auguron City. Look for more reports in the coming days. Troll attacks can only mean trouble for our elven forestlands. This is Rowigan Skaulter sending by pigeon.

Look for more of these fun reports about the series. If you are interested in The Bow of Destiny, An Arrow Against the Wind or the newly released final edition, The White Arrow, please click the appropriate link for the book-page. Following are direct links to find The Bow of Destiny at Amazon (available in Kindle Unlimited):

Amazon

About the Author: