Samson was a cross between a shepard and a St. Bernard and weighed in about 200 pounds. I was a deputy sheriff in Monterey County when I found him curled up in the center of the road while I was on patrol one cold night. We became inseperable and he was very protective of me and my family. I was injured on duty and forced into an early retirement. Part of my rehad was getting a lot of exercise by dredging for gold in the Salmon River in northern California. We had a large tent set up for Thanksgiving and had placed a fifth wheel trailer onto some mining claims I had purchased. I left the tent set up and stored fifty pound bags of dog food, among other things, in it. One moonless night I heard Samson barking very excidedly and knew something was wrong. I went outside and found him barking at the front entrance to the tent. I went over to him and I heard the sounds of crunching coming from inside the tent. I thought, “Ratcoons are after my dog food.” I flipped open the tent flaps and said, “Get em Samson!” Samsom leaped into the tent with me right behind him. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything when I heard a very large roar. I knew immediately it was a bear in the tent after my dog food. Samson lit into him and the fight was on. They were going back and forth, just in front of me, with mighty grawls and snapping jaws. I couldn’t find the entrance to the tent and it seemed forever before I shot out the entrance and ran for the trailer to get my rifle.

The only light I had was a kerocene lamp. I had to hold it high above my head so I could see. I entered the tent and the fight was fast and furious. I held the lamp high, expecting to see a normal black bear about the size of my dog. What I saw was a very large black bear that towered above my six feet by at least a foot. I had the rifle in my right hand and tried to line the sights on the bear, still holding the lamp high. My hand must have been shaking and the chimney fell off and the flame went out. I was in complete darkness again and didn’t dare shoot for fear of hitting Samson. It was about that time the bear decided he had enough of both of us and tore out the back of the tend, taking a barbwire fence with him. Samson was hot on his heels. I got down on all fours to find the chimney I had lost. I was crawling around the dirt floor when I heard a noise and felt hot breath on my face. I heard the snapping of teeth and a growl, Samson had returned and thought I was the bear. He almost tore my face off. I hollared to him that it was me. He clamed down, I found the chimney, lit the lamp and we both went outside to sit on the steps of the trailer to recuperate. I sat there with my arm around his neck, thankful neither of us were injured. I didn’t know it at the time but he had cancer in his back leg. It was just a couple of months later he was gone. A light went out of my life when he died. My best friend was gone and I mourned for a very long time. Its been years now and I still feel as strongly as I did the day he died. He was a major part of my life, afraid of nothing, and a piece of me went with him when he died.


Stanley from CA