Twenty years later, I still remember Samson.
I have had the privilege to have worn many “hats” throughout my career path. Once upon a tail, one of those hats was that of a dog trainer. I always found the term odd, because quite frankly, it’s more human training than dog training, but that’s another story for another time.
One of my more curious clients were, at first glance, a very odd pair. As I sat in my office, waiting for my next appointment, I watched a petite woman roughly in her late 70’s exit her car. She was soon followed by probably the biggest Great Dane I had ever seen. As Evelyn made her way through the front door, Samson (of course his name was Samson) kept pace with his laboring human companion, glancing up at her occasionally like a doting grandson.
I suspect that her desire for dog training had more to do with social connection, rather than any misbehavior on Samson’s part. It wasn’t even five minutes before I assessed that, while Samson didn’t necessarily sit or lay down on command, his friendly and easygoing disposition made him anything but a problem for Evelyn. Yet Evelyn insisted that our course was just the one she was looking for.
She was a funny lady, entertaining and sharp as a tack, with life stories that would make today’s social media sensations jealous. Samson came into her life shortly after her husband, Bob, passed away. Her children disapproved at her choice in dog breed. He’s going to grow too big. She’ll get hurt. Why not something small and manageable like a Bichon Frise? But a Great Dane is what she wanted, and a Great Dane is what she got.
I met Samson when he was six years old, “middle aged” by Great Dane standards. Evelyn was happy to fill in the gap with pictures of an awkward puppy not yet grown into his floppy ears and gangly legs. Her eyes sparkled with a hint of mischievousness as she reminded Samson of the little dogs that snobbishly refused to play with him by the time he was six months old. Samson sat up and licked her face in resigned indulgence.
My mentor joined us for one session, concerned about Samson’s diet and my inability to convince Evelyn to feed him in a manner “more appropriate” for a dog. It seems Evelyn missed cooking for two after the passing of her husband and had taken to feeding Samson whatever she fixed herself. Scrambled eggs for breakfast, poached salmon for lunch and pot roast with sweet potatoes for dinner to name a few. Samson ate like a king.
The argument that ensued between Evelyn and my mentor was nothing short of sheer comedy. Evelyn may have been tiny, but there was nothing frail about her. I saw firsthand how her children lost the breed argument. Evelyn was no one to be trifled with. My mentor never came to another session.
“Training” Samson took much longer than our prescribed eight-week program. I scheduled them as my last class of the day and “forgot” to bill her for the additional sessions.
Evelyn and Samson remained a part of my life for a good while after I changed careers again. Samson lived to the ripe old age of twelve, nearly unheard of among Great Danes.
Samson’s passing was heartbreaking to be sure. However, I was devastated when I received a quiet email a few months later from Evelyn’s daughter that she too, had joined Samson and her beloved Bob.
It’s funny how life comes full circle, it took nearly two decades for my love of dogs to once again become the focus of my professional life. Joining the Porch Potty Team and reading through our reviews, I’m reminded of how precious the human-canine connection is. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic team that is committed to improving the quality of life for dogs and their humans.
Roxanne in CA shared this, “Thank you! Our son uses a wheelchair. This will simplify training for his new service puppy in training!” And Donna in MO told us, “We love porch potty for our special needs bulldogs!”
Thank you for sharing these small glimpses into your lives, it keeps us inspired to continue offering quality products and the unparalleled service that you and your four-legged best friends deserve. I can’t help but imagine Evelyn and Samson are with me as I read through your stories, glowing with pride that their abiding love for one another lives on through all of you.