Gather round the campfire and I’ll tell you the story of Porcupine Sam – the Most Wanted Dog in the Wild, Wild East! This boy once hid a generous helpin’ of hamburger in his best gal’s handbag just for safe-keepin’! Now if that don’t make you fall to pieces, you best settle in for the rest of his tale. Be warned, he’s sure to break your achy breaky heart! I reckon he might also inspire you to saddle up and head east for the best hoedown this summer has to offer!
Before making his life-saving journey east, the gentle-natured Chow mix lived in a northern town. With any luck, he’s forgotten those days. At 13 years old, Sampson was seized by authorities from a neglectful owner. There were five dogs in total – three small breeds and two Chow mixes. The little ones recovered quickly, finding happy new beginnings through the local animal shelter. But Sampson and his sister were not so lucky. They were severely malnourished and ravaged with arthritis. Worst of all were the quills. They’d had one heck of an encounter with a porcupine! The quills were so deeply embedded in their muzzles, they looked like blowfish. No doubt, they’d been suffering for some time. Surgery was required to remove the quills but Sampson’s sister had been through too much already. She died on the operating table.
That left Sampson. Who would want this big old dog with the weight of the world on his shoulders? Catherine of Sheba’s Haven, that’s who!
Catherine made it her mission to offer a little heaven on earth to chronically and terminally ill dogs after rescuing an inspirational dog by the name of Sheba back in 2006. Sheba taught her that nothing says heaven to a dog quite like all-day breakfasts, couch privileges, and free sniffing expeditions on a three-acre farm north of Kingston.
Sampson didn’t exactly fit the criteria. He was old but not seriously ill, as far as Catherine knew. But his heart-wrenching past was qualification enough. So Catherine drove the five hours north of her heaven on earth this past fall to gather up Sampson and his emotional baggage. He was just as the shelter staff had described him – a big old softy that only looked like a lion.
The extent of the neglect was hard to bear. It became clear that access to fresh water was completely foreign to Sampson after Catherine caught him drinking frantically from yard puddles. She’d made the right decision to take him. Sadly, it turned out Sampson did have more than the lasting effects of neglect to endure.
It started with a chronic sneeze. Sampson would use Catherine’s sleeve as a tissue. But when blood suddenly appeared on her sleeve, she raced him to her vet. Sampson was diagnosed with a nasal tumour. Such tumours are usually malignant and inoperable. It’s only a matter of time. But for now, heaven can wait. Heaven on earth, on the other hand, is tugging impatiently at Sampson’s tail.
The introduction of homeopathic remedies, together with conventional care for his arthritis, has brought the happy roar back to this lion. Sampson loves frolicking in the fields with his new mates and especially enjoys teasing Isaiah, a 10-year-old beagle with heart disease. Watching them play together, you’d never know either was sick.
Sampson has that same playful effect on people. He starts his community work as a therapy dog for a local retirement home shortly. He also plans to represent the Haven at the best hoedown this summer has to offer!
Among the Haven’s many admirers are the folks at Eastern Cowboy. This whimsical ranch nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of eastern Ontario will be hosting its third annual Family Fun Day & BBQ in support of Sheba’s Haven on June 16th. There will be live music, pony rides, an auction, and old-western-style family photos for the taking. It’s the perfect kick-start to Father’s Day seeing how Dad can pretend he’s Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘Em High, minus the lynchin’ of course. Store fronts like the Old Gulch Saloon and the Coyote County Bank complete the scene. Keep an eye out for Fort Fart. That’s the outhouse and it’s for real!
Speaking of shameful things that make you giggle, I’ll always cherish the day I met Sampson. It was about a week ago when I introduced myself to what looked like a lion in the backseat of Catherine’s car. We stopped for burgers before paying a visit to Eastern Cowboy. Catherine saved her last bite for the lion. He ate some of it but decided to deposit the rest in her purse. She laughed, I laughed, and the lion in the backseat? He just smiled and wagged his tail to the beat of unconditional love.
13-year-old Chow mix with the mane of a lion and the heart of a lovesick cowboy
Goes by ‘Porcupine Sam’ but kinfolk prefer ‘Sampson the Heart Melter’!
Last seen chasing butterflies at SHEBA’S HAVEN, www.shebashaven.petfinder.com
Fixin’ to melt more hearts at Eastern Cowboy, www.easterncowboy.com, on June 16!
REWARD: 10 Million Tailwags!