Canine Hero

Canine Hero

For each PuppyUp Walk, the Event Manager and their Walk Team select both a Human Cancer Hero and a Canine Cancer Hero, to be honored during the Walk ceremonies.

These Heroes are chosen because of their exemplary attitude towards their particular type of cancer, showing bravery and hopefulness in their fight against this terrible disease.

The 2020 PuppyUp Memphis Walk hero is Sampson Adair. His story is shown below.

Sampson has always been special. His stray parents adopted my family, and before we had a chance to get them vetted, his mom became pregnant. I was there when he was born, and from that moment, we were bonded. He was such a perfect puppy, and he grew into the most amazing of dogs.

I decided to start fostering when Sampson was 6 months old so he would always have a playmate, with the added bonus of helping a pup in need. Over time, I recognized that he had a unique gift. I always thought he was special, but he was so tolerant and patient with the fosters- he was their emotional support, helping them through the difficult transition from neglected to beloved family member. Dogs that couldn’t be around other dogs could be around him. He is nothing short of remarkable. I love watching him work his “magic”.

In May 2018, I took him to physical therapy as a preventative measure. In July, I noticed he was limping on his right front leg. What began as intermittent began to get worse, but the X-rays were clear, so we continued therapy. In September, I noticed he was barely using that leg. More X-rays showed osteosarcoma on the right front humerus. The options were to amputate or consider euthanizing him before the pain became unbearable. To have this kind of a timeline given to a dog that is your “soul dog” is hard to come to terms with…

Before bone cancer, he was perfectly healthy, so I decided to amputate the affected limb. He’s given me so much; the least I could do was give him his best shot of beating this thing. He had a great role model in his fight against cancer. His Siberian Husky sister, Willow, battled insulinoma twice, and he was with her every step of the way, even traveling with her to MSU for CT scans. Now she could be his support system. I wanted him to be able to run to the lakes at Shelby Farms again, lie in the shallow water, and bask in the sun. One look at his sweet face and I knew that’s what he wanted too.

He went in for surgery the next morning. After a short recovery period, he started chemotherapy at Memphis Veterinary Specialists. After 5 rounds of chemo, he had thoracic x-rays every 3 months to check for lung metastasis. To date, these x-rays remain clear. I was told that chemo & amputation might give him a year, but 17 months later my sweet boy is happy, healthy, and cancer free.

Cancer does not define Sampson, but it is an important part of his story. Although age has slowed him down, some things haven’t changed. He still loves his stuffies, and I still have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he doesn’t swallow anything. He still loves lying in any puddle of water with the biggest grin on his face. He still thinks every human is there solely to love on him (and usually he’s right)! He is still my soul dog. He taught me to live in the moment. I am a better person because of him. After 12+ years I’ll continue to love him and fight alongside him as long as he tells me he wants to…it’s the least I can do for him. He’s my hero.

Kristyn Adair

Sampson Adair, 2020 PuppyUp Memphis Hero