Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog, Samson

Today my best pal, Samson went Home to be with Jesus.

That’s what I always called him… My best pal.  After 16 fun and love-filled years, it was time for him to leave this life.

But I didn’t want to say goodbye.  I kissed his little head until he drifted off to sleep.  I cried. I was his #1 and he was mine.  It felt good to be someone’s #1.   I used to joke that Samson could not die until he found someone to take care of my heart.  I always envisioned a wonderfully thoughtful and affectionate man.  But maybe Samson knew better. Maybe Samson has seen over the past year and a half- the growth in my walk with The Lord.  Now that he knows, that I know- that nothing can fill the void in my soul but God, he can let go.  He knows that I know- that I can find comfort “at the foot of the cross”.

With Jesus- I’m in the best hands ever.  Samson won’t have to worry about me.

It won’t be like the time Samson watched me go through a depression.  It won’t be like the times he saw me fearful and scared.  It won’t be like any other time that I almost couldn’t handle it.   With God’s stregnth, I can handle it.   Sam knew that I trust God more now, than I ever have in the past.  And I can lean in to God even as my heart aches for my darling companion. “Freedom in Christ” is becoming the wallpaper of my soul.  Remembering that His Promises (the ones made in the Bible) are true carries a peace and lightness that is incomparable.  His Word is true even when it’s hard to believe.   It’s called faith.  I have faith. Maybe that sounds like church talk. I don’t care if it does.  There’s just no other way to explain our unceasing dissatisfaction with life on earth.  We were made for more.  Nothing else can fill the hole in our soul. When Samson died, I knew God was drawing me near.  No one but God knows how I feel, how much I loved Samson and how grateful I am for the precious memories of our time together.

We really loved each other.

In that vein, I have compiled a list of Life Lessons that I attribute to the wisdom of my late friend, confidant and parter in harmless mischief, Samson Knoedl.

10.  ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT:  Samson was not afraid to ask for what he wanted.  He didn’t overthink it.  He didn’t have walls created by worthiness issues.  When humans said “no” he didn’t take it personally, and he would usually try again when he/she was in a better mood.  He always asked nicely and never took a “no” as a personal offense.  He didn’t expect people to read his mind.  He didn’t sulk or pout.  He was direct, and clear… and he usually got his way.

9.  KEEP NO RECORD OF WRONGS:  What if it was humanly possible to keep no record of how someone hurt you.  What if you could forgive in an instant and harbored no resentment?  I’ve tried to extend to other the grace that God has extended to me and I stink at it.  But not Samson.  He never brought up old stuff and always expected the best of others.  Mom would say he is the best Christian of all.  I’d have to agree.

8.  EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS: I always enjoyed taking Samson for nature walks.  He was such an explorer.  He’d sniff this rock and that tree.  Pee over here and scratch the dirt over there.  I used to wonder what he was thinking… maybe he wasn’t thinking.  Maybe he was just enjoying nature and the bond that come from sharing in it with another being in the present moment.  He encouraged me to get fresh air and vitamin D, not forgetting that these are components of true and natural health and wellness.


7. BE A GREAT WINGMAN:  Not only was Samson good at starting conversations with total strangers, he had a perfectly charismatic style of throwing the conversation over for me to finish.  Samson was well-groomed, mannered and accepted in the presence of fine company everywhere.  He always waited graciously as I finished conversations and acquiesced to attend many events.  He accepted differences in others and made the best of time spent waiting on others.

 6.  IN ALL THINGS REJOICE:  It didn’t take much for Samson to display his joy.  Whether it was a new day, a new person, an old bone or an old person- he celebrated all of life.  How different he was from me in that way.  How much I will miss his example of rejoicing in all things.  Life isn’t what happens to us- it is how we respond.  That guy really knew what life is all about.

 5.  BE A CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVER:  Though he was no mathematician, Samson always did his best to solve his own problems.  Granted, most problems revolved around food or a ball but the lesson was none-the-less powerful.  If at first you don’t succeed, try a different angle or change your perspective.  He taught me that many times, while you are busy happily trying to solve your own problems, you enroll others in your pursuit.  Everyone loves a problem-solver.

4. TAKE 1 FOR THE TEAM:  Does it always have to be about you?  You don’t have to answer that. I won’t either, but my little buddy knew the art of caring more for someone else.  He knew how to be selfless and go with the flow even if he would rather not.  He let me dress him in costumes, allowed random strangers to pet him and danced with me in the living room.  Anything to make me happy.  Anything to be with me.  I want to be a friend like that.  I want to be better about taking one for the team.

3. DON’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW.  LOVE HARD TODAY.: I don’t know that Samson had any concept of time.  And maybe that was to his benefit.  He never waited on love.  His default was love.  When one is grounded, it is easy to love without expectation.  Even if his love was refused or unreturned- he loved hard anyway.  It’s like he knew it was good for his soul.  Being open and being vulnerable requires courage and bravery sometimes.  Samson was one of the bravest.

2. DON’T TAKE YOUR SELF TOO SERIOUSLY.  MAKE PLAY IMPORTANT.:  I love to play.  Samson gave me a good excuse to act silly and make up any reason to gallop.  It’s like he knew that we needed to chill out and not take ourselves too seriously.  He was always in a good mood and it was contagious.  We can’t take any of our “stuff” with us, so why be so attached to it?  Throw it off, run, wag your tail… Play makes the world a better place and is totally underrated.

1.  LEAVE A LEGACY OF LOVE:  Some day we will all not be here.  I personally look forward to going Home and leaving this world of pain and suffering behind, but until then- I am called to love.  I am to be patient and kind.  The way I love others should reflect the way God so loves me.  The thing about leaving a legacy, is that it cannot be dictated.  We will no longer have control of our reputation or be able to manipulate what others may think of us.  No.  Out legacy will be determined by our actions and the way we treated others.  And that’s what my baby did for me.  When I think of him, I think of love.  That is how we all would most like to be remembered.  Easier said than done… unless, of course, you are Samson.

There is nothing new under the sun and this post is no exception.  We know this stuff.  But it’s so hard to live it out sometimes.  That is what I will miss most about my best pal… he was a constant reminder of what is true- and I need all the reminders I can get.

So I hope you enjoyed it.  Maybe you got a little reminder too.  I hope so.  And I look on to the day when I get to kiss his sweet face again.  I thank God for the time he gave my with my best pal.

The void is deep.  But the love was greater.  I loved him- and I always will.

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