I am so sorry to hear about Sam. Sending hugs and prayers.
They are not "just" dogs or cats. They are valuable members of our families and as such, its just as hard to let them go as it is anyone else.
And unlike some members of my extended family, my dogs bring me such unconditional love, no judgement and lots of comfort. So no, they aren't just dogs. They are part of my heart and soul. And they don't try to tell me how to live, or what I'm doing is wrong. They don't care, as long as I take the very best care of them, they love me for just being me and nothing else. Who else is going to love you like that and keep their mouth shut about your secrets???
And I'm sure Sam is still part of your heart and soul too. As I believe that they stay part of us, even when they have gone.
I'm sorry for your loss.