On the morning Sam became a neighborhood legend, he was sunning himself on the balcony, 15 stories up one of Sacramento’s tallest high-rises.
The small dog liked it up there: It was warm when the fog cleared. He could hear the hustle of the city at his feet. He’d gone out there almost daily since he and his owner, Bill McCourt, moved into the Bridgeway Towers more than three years ago.
But on Monday, Sam, a 13-year-old Boston terrier, somehow fell through the railing.
He plummeted past a man sipping coffee on an eighth-floor terrace, past workers and shoppers milling about the ground level and landed hard in the middle of a hot tub.
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Sam was swimming when two building workers ran out because they heard a splash.
One worker recognized Sam but knew he lived on the 15th floor and wondered how he ended up in the jacuzzi.
He called Bette Plumb, who usually watches Sam during the day while McCourt, her son, is at work.
“My first thought was he must have got out and taken the stairs or the elevator or something,” Plumb said. “But there’s no way he could have gotten out of the condo. All of a sudden, I knew. It hit me immediately: He fell.”
When she went downstairs to collect the dog, Plumb said, Sam was on his feet. He was walking, with a slight limp, but didn’t seem like a dog that had just dropped down the length of a building.
“It’s absolutely a miracle,” she said. “There’s no way that dog should be alive.”
Sam, who is partially blind, suffered several fractures to his pelvis and five rib fractures. A cut on his rear needed to be stitched up. He has been recovering at VCA Bradshaw Animal Hospital since he was admitted Monday afternoon.
Through it all, though, Sam has hardly uttered a whimper, his owners said.
Today, Plumb and McCourt are counting their blessings: Sam is alive. He’s walking. And though the road to recovery may be long – the animal hospital estimated six to eight weeks – Sam might even be home for Christmas.
For McCourt, who’s had Sam since he was a 5-week-old puppy, there could be no better gift than being able to bring his dog home.
“Whenever I tell someone what happened, they keep saying, ‘The 15th floor? Are you sure it was the 15th floor?’ because no one can believe it. They’re completely amazed,” he said. “I just want to get him home. He’s a huge part of my family.”
But it’s not likely Sam will again see the city from above anytime soon.
“His balcony days are over,” McCourt said. “He’s going to have to sit by the door from now on, though, if I were him, I don’t think I’d be running back out there again.”
Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.