Loyal Senior Dog Found Next to Dead Owner's Side Receiving Care and Space to Grieve at Rescue

Sam is heartsick, but she’s also a survivor.

The sweet Labrador, thought to be close to 20 years old, was recently found sitting next to the side of her dead owner, who cared for the canine for her entire life.

“Obviously the man did something right, a lot of love goes a long way,” Maeghan Olsen, the founder and director of 1 Day Ranch in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma, told PEOPLE.

Olsen met Sam after receiving a call from the local sheriff’s department asking for help moving the dog from her home, so her owner’s body could be removed.

Since there is no Animal Control office near 1 Day Ranch, the animal rescue and several other local animal welfare groups help the local authorities with animal cases. Olsen is used to getting calls from the sheriff’s department about hoarding situations and neglected pets, but this was her first call about a grieving animal.

Olsen says the sheriff’s department was having trouble moving Sam from the home, because she insisted on staying close to her owner’s body. Authorities believe Sam sat with the body for a day before anyone arrived at the house. They learned of the situation after the owner’s neighbor and close friend went to check on Sam’s owner after not hearing from him for several days.

When Olsen arrived at Sam’s home, she found the dog “very upset.” Sam was panting, shaking and showing other signs of stress. Instead of trying to force the dog out of the home, Olsen sat with the mourning pet, fed her treats and tried to explain the situation to her. After some quiet time with Olsen, Sam allowed a leash to be but on her neck and let Olsen lead her out of the house.

“I let her say goodbye,” Olsen explains of Sam’s final moments in her home.

It was clear to the rescue founder that Sam and her owner shared a close bond. The owner’s neighbor told Olsen that the owner was very ill, but left the hopsital against medical advice so he wouldn’t have to leave Sam alone.

“His main goal was to be home with his dog, and to try and outlive her,” Olsen says.

Sam left the house with her owner’s blankets and pillows, and moved to 1 Day Ranch. Since the Lab is a special case, Olsen is allowing the pet to stay at her home on the ranch’s premises, hopefully making it easier for the dog to decompress.

After arriving at the Olsen’s home on Thursday, Sam is starting to relax and come out of her shell.

Now that Sam is more comfortable, Olsen has a few goals for the pooch. First, Olsen wants to have Sam see a vet, since the dog likely hasn’t seen a doctor in years. Aside from some overgrown nails, hearing loss and eyesight issues, Sam appears to be extremely healthy for a potentially 20-year-old dog. A visit to the vet will help the rescue determine what the best housing situation will be for Sam, and what medical costs to expect in the future.

Olsen’s other wish for Sam is that the dog be able to attend her owner’s funeral, so the Lab can “honor the relationship they had.”

Once the funeral is over, Olsen will start looking into adoption opportunities for Sam. While the Sam will likely not be a candidate for a full adoption because of her age, there is a possibility she will be placed in a foster hospice home, which will shower her with love and care until the end of her life.

Grieving Dog Attends Owner’s Funeral and Finds Peace Again After Pet Parent’s Sudden Death

If it turns out Sam has serious health issues, she will stay with Olsen and her family at the ranch, where Sam has already befriended Olsen’s therapy-dog-in-training.

Either way, the twilight of Sam’s life will be full of support and affection.

If you would like to learn more about 1 Day Ranch, the help they provide abused and neglected animals, and how you can help their efforts  including donating to Sam’s medical bills, visit the non-profit’s website.

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