Growing up in a rural section of southeast Missouri, stray dogs were common. Most were unapproachable, but one in particular attached himself to our family. My parents, as good parents, warned us against “making friends” with the dog. But of course, us being kids, we slowly wore down that warning to start with secreting table scraps out for him to eat. It took some time, but over a few months, he became a full member of the family, with parent approval. We named him Sampson. He was a medium sized dog, mature dog, white with large light brown spots. Never knew what breed or breeds he was. It didn’t matter; he was just one of the family for the next eight years.

Back in those days, where we lived, you didn’t put a dog on a leash or worry about things like that. Didn’t need it. Sampson never wondered far from the front door unless to take a walk with one of us. Every morning he was there with his tail up, ready to run and play. Every day when we were dropped off from school, he was there, waiting by the pecan tree. As I grew older, and started to hunt and fish, Sampson was an able companion. Never did a day of training, yet he just instinctively knew how to drive a rabbit or flush a covey. Or at least it seemed that way to a 15 year old kid. And I always rewarded him for the help.

I learned a lot from that dog. I learned first and foremost responsibility, when caring and feeding him. I learned teamwork while hunting with him. And importantly, I learned that there was more to life than just money or material things. I will always remember when he passed, looking into those old, tired eyes. He wanted so bad to go out and play one more time, but the body was not able. I know that at some point in the afterlife, my brothers and I will get a chance once again to play with Sampson.

Craig from VA