He stood in the distance, perhaps not for the first time, quietly observing the young couple tending their new yard. Had he anticipated their arrival?
On this particular late fall afternoon, the beautiful black dog wandered over and greeted Jessica and Nick. Although not a typical welcome to the neighborhood, it prompted the threesome to walk around the area, meeting other residents while searching for the dogs’ home. No one recognized him.
Although they had plans to go out with friends that evening, Jessica and Nick decided they would keep their new friend safe in the garage until they returned and were able to continue searching for his owners. After gratefully consuming the food provided to him, Sampson settled comfortably on the couch while Jessica emailed the ‘Lost Dog Network’. Details of lost or found pets, provided to the network are published on the website and Facebook page. The next afternoon Jessica received a call from someone claiming Sampson belonged to them. A little more than three hours later a woman arrived to collect him.
Recognizing the same qualities of trust and approachability in the couple that had drawn Sampson to their door, the woman shared her story with them; Sampson’s owner, her brother, had died the year before. Sampson was all they had left of their loved one. “He’s a pain”, she said, “so much work and very hard to take care of”. As no one could fully care for him he was being shuffled between family members, currently living with the woman’s nephew. It was almost as if speaking the words out loud was the therapy needed for her to fully recognize the situation and make the difficult decision to find a better life for Sampson.
The words that were spoken next were a complete surprise. The woman asked the couple ‘do you want him’? ‘NO’ was Jessica’s immediate response. The whole situation was baffling. It was too much to digest in such a short period of time. Jessica and Nick had only recently moved to the area and were getting settled when, a woman, who had come to collect her deceased brother’s beloved dog was offering to give Sampson to them???
Sampson left with the woman. Actually, the woman didn’t bring a leash with her and had to drag Sampson away from the couple because he did not want to leave. Nick was so disappointed with Jessica’s decision the couple didn’t speak for two days. They hoped for the best; the family would adjust to their loss and find a way to care for him.
Sampson had a profound effect on both Jessica and Nick. After they became settled, they started looking into adopting a big dog. A playmate for their Pomeranian/ Shih Tzu.
Shortly after Christmas, Nick found himself experiencing déjà vu. He had been in the yard preparing for a storm that had been forecast for the area and ran back into the house to inform Jessica that another dog had appeared. Jessica followed Nick outside and knew immediately this was not ‘another’ dog. Although, at first unrecognizable; his nose cut up and appearing to be extremely underweight – It was most definitely Sampson. The family currently responsible for him runs a business and are very busy around Christmas time. It was very cold out and there had been plenty of snow. The couple later learned Sampson had been kept outside ALL the time.
Jessica and Nick brought their long lost friend into the warm house and watched, as he consumed the food shared with him. Jessica still had the owners’ number from their previous encounter and sighed heavily before she entered the digits into the phone. “Uuuuugh, now I’m going to have to find someone to come get him” the woman complained. At that moment Jessica knew Sampson was not going back there and as a mere act of courtesy asked if it was still an option for them to keep him. The woman said she would speak with her family and get back to her.
Sampson stayed with the couple that night and the next day they received a phone call to say ‘he was theirs.’ The nephew however, wanted to come out and meet them and would call that week to arrange a visit’.
Sampson has been living happily in his ‘forever home’ for just over three months now. Jessica and Nick did not hear from the nephew or any of the people from Sampson’s old life. No dietary information or health history (breed, age, vaccination records) was provided by the family.
Jessica says “We have taken him to the vet, got his needles, flee treatment, de-wormed, fixed, and his du-claws removed. He is now a healthy beautiful boy & is the best thing to happen to us. We’re proud of our fur baby”
Animals are intuitive; they understand and respond to our emotions. I have absolutely no doubt they understand our every word (they just pretend not to most times). Sampson, now lovingly referred to as ‘Sam’, did not want to be a burden and cared for out of a sense of obligation. He showed up at their door one day without an I.D. tag. He chose a new life. He chose a home where he is considered part of the family.
Sampson chose Jessica and Nick.
Please take a moment to register with your local Pet Rescue Network and keep an eye out for lost companions.
There is no shame in surrender. Life is not predictable and it is not easy to make the decision to rehome a pet. You do not have to make these decisions on your own.
If you or someone you know are struggling with the difficult decision to surrender a companion, Please reach out to the following resources for support;
Family vet: They know the complete health history of your animal companion and at your request they can share that information with whomever you decide to entrust with their care. This guarantees the best future health of your pet. Also, your vet may know a family looking to adopt, that would be a perfect match for your companion.
Local Shelters: A large number of shelters offer wonderful foster programs where, your animal companion would be cared for in the private home of a vetted, responsible care-giver until the right family is found to adopt them.
Often, shelters affiliated with www.petfinder.com will be happy to create a ‘courtesy post’. People that are searching for a companion can view the profile and, your companion would continue to reside with you while you work with the shelter to determine the best future home for your beloved pet from the selection of applicants.
There are also a large number of shelters that assist with rehoming specific breeds and those with special, or medical needs.
Grief Counselors: A large number of counselors provide support to those struggling with the loss of, or separation from a pet. This can be an overwhelming experience that you do not have to go through alone.
Please be careful when posting private advertisements as you may place yourself and your companion at risk.