Samson–8/2000 to 5/2012

There are times in life when we have to do things or put up with things that we really would rather not.  Things that leave us emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually drained, but then God comes through in a most unusual way to give us a glimmer of hope, confidence if you will, that He is truly in control and knows what we need, when we need it, and will provide in ways that we can’t even begin to fathom.  The following story is a very small, yet big, indication of how much He loves us and watches over even the little things that affect our lives.

Recently my family’s dog (truth-be-told my daughter’s dog), Samson, suddenly became ill and seemed to labor to breath. He was living with me for a short time now due to some upheaval in her life and as temporary  “caretaker”,  I became increasingly concerned as this had never happened to one of my pets before. He was not eating well but still seemed somewhat interested in treats. It was as if he had a cold & was all stuffed up.  Our other dog, yes, my son’s dog, (I somehow seem to be the repository for everyone’s pets) Sugar Bear, didn’t seem to take too much notice at the time and seemed annoyed that he had to share all the treats, consummate mooch that he is. But as symptoms got increasingly worse, we had no other choice but to bite the bullet and reach out to a neighborhood veterinarian for assistance. On Mother’s Day 2012, of all days, when my daughter had come over just to have lunch and a special day with me, we sat in the room and heard the verdict …lymphoma cancer.  We both turned and looked at each other, tears welling up. We never expected this! Not even close to the diagnosis I’d hoped for.

The doctor was very nice, quiet and calm, as she could probably see how much we’d been caught off guard. She explained all the possible options, none of which seemed to be worth the bother or expense or torment for our much loved family member. She then left the room and sent in the vet tech to give us a list of all the expenses involved; a nice young man but he seemed a little timid and afraid of what emotions might be forthcoming should he say too much or with the wrong tone of voice. I’m sure he was just trying to be understanding and compassionate, and I appreciated his attempts at delivering a hard message with as much gentleness as he could possibly muster.

We decided on a course of action, let Sam go with the vet tech to get the various cell samples, a shot of prednisone (doggy version), and paid our fees (which only could have come from God–the money was there when there had been no money a short time before) only to have to wait a few days for confirmation from the lab before taking any further steps: an expensive but wise choice I felt at the time. Then we would know for sure. The confirmation, as if we really needed it, came within the next day or two.


Each day after that brought a rapid decline in Sam’s health, which I watched with increasing sadness.  (To this day viewing shows or movies such as Dumbo or the Lassie TV series, for example, just put me emotionally over the edge. Can’t watch ‘em.)  But I knew that after my daughter’s agonizingly difficult decision to put him down, his suffering would soon be over. Still, remembering what a great dog he was and all the good times we’d had with him was very difficult for me.

The night before the vet appointment was especially hard, watching him collapse on the kitchen floor by the back door.  He struggled to get to the bowl of water, but did drink.  That was encouraging.  Being late at night, I left him by the door, but slept with one eye open almost to make sure he would get help if he needed it.

Morning came, too soon for me, but during the night he must have rallied a little because he was sleeping by the front door this time.  He got up and walked slowly to the kitchen where I was and drank some water and went outside to take care of his “toiletries”.  Back to the water bowl and then relax  outside in the sun.  I had had a brief moment with him to say goodbye and let him know that my daughter would be there soon to get him.  It would all be over very soon and he wouldn’t have to suffer any longer.  I think he knew what I was saying because when she did come an hour later, he was standing at the door waiting.

Sugar Bear

Meanwhile, Sugar Bear came outside and laid down much closer to him than normal and stayed there till it was time for Sam to go.  He called out to him several times as my daughter readied him with his leash and cried after them when they left as if to say, “Thanks for all the good times Sam.  Stay strong Friend, I will miss you!”  Now, I can’t verify what he actually was saying of course, but they have been together for many, many years off and on and have been good friends, together fending off  all comers to the alley behind my house or verbally warning all the strangers who dared cross the borders of our home.  I know he misses him because he was always so happy to see him on the rare occasions he’d come to visit in the last five years after my daughter and family all moved out into their own home.   Of one thing I am sure, however.  Instinctively, Sugar Bear knew Sam was in trouble and wouldn’t be around very long.  He chose to stay close by when it counted and let Sam know he cared and was there for him.

Sam is gone now and his memory will linger for many years to come.  But, what comforts me most is knowing that we have the opportunity to know, personally, the God who created such very special and unique animals, who gave them instincts and understanding beyond our natural realm.  No, these two dogs are by no means more special than any others, and this same scenario has probably played out many, many times over many generations of dogs, or cats, or horses, or any number of other creatures on this planet we call Earth.

But, the cool thing is that God created them as intricately and uniquely as he did us, and then He allows us to view glimpses of His love for human beings by letting us in on how animals care for each other, even in small ways.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made, my friends.  He loves us, He cares for us, and we can have confidence that He will help us deal with every situation that we encounter, no matter how difficult it may seem.  He is able to bring something good out of something really bad, especially when it looks impossible that anything could change.

Have confidence in God today and ask Him to bring you beauty for the ashes of your life!