It was just before Christmas. An angry middle-aged man
stood at the counter of the animal shelter, gripping the leash of an
aging German shepherd. "Why won't you take him?" he shouted. "I need to
get him off my hands!"
The adoption counselor tried once more to explain. "At
fourteen, Samson is too old to be a good adoption candidate," she said.
"Well, then just take him and put him down," the man
yelled. "I want to be rid of him."
"We don't take animals just to put them down," the
counselor explained. "May I ask why you no longer wish to keep the dog?"
"I just can't stand the sight of him," the man hissed,
"and if you won't put him down, I'll shoot him myself."
Trying not to show her horror, the counselor pointed out
that shooting an animal was illegal. She urged the man to consult with
his veterinarian for other options.
"I'm not spending any more money on this animal," the
man grumbled and, yanking the leash, he stalked out.
Concerned, the counselor wrote down the license plate of
the man's truck and offered up a quick prayer for Samson.
A few days later, a German shepherd was found abandoned.
He was brought to the shelter, and the staff recognized him as Samson.
The town where he had been abandoned was where his owner lived. The man
was contacted by the police and, under questioning, admitted that
distraught over his recent divorce, he had sought revenge through the
shepherd. He hadn't even wanted the dog, but he fought to keep him to
spite his wife. Once his wife was gone he couldn't bear to see the
animal. The man was charged with abandonment, and Samson came to stay at
The wife and the couple's son were located in
Pennsylvania. They were horrified to hear what had happened to their dog
and agreed immediately to have him come live with them.
There was just one problem: The wife was nearly broke
after the divorce and their initial move. She could take no time off
from work to drive to New Hampshire and get the dog, and she couldn't
afford any other method of getting him to her. She hated to have Samson
in the shelter any longer but didn't know what to do. "We'll come up
with something," the staff assured her, but in their hearts they didn't
know what. They were concerned, as well Samson had lived with his family
all his life. Within a few weeks, his whole world had been turned upside
down. He was beginning to mope, and the staff could tell by his eyes
that if he wasn't back with his family soon, he would give up.
Christmas was only two weeks away when the angel
arrived. He came by pickup truck in the form of a man in his
mid-thirties. Through a friend of a shelter staffer, he had heard about
Samson's plight. He was willing to drive Samson to Pennsylvania, and he
would do it before Christmas.
The staff was thrilled with the offer, but cautious. Why
would a stranger drive hundreds of miles out of his way to deliver a dog
to people he didn't know? They had to make sure he was legitimate and
that Samson wouldn't be sold to meat dealers or dumped along the
The man understood their concerns and, thankfully,
checked out to be an upstanding citizen. In the course of the
conversation, he explained why he had come forward.
"Last year, I left my dog in my van while I went to do
some grocery shopping" he explained. "While I was inside, the van caught
fire. I heard people hollering and rushed out to see my van engulfed in
flames. My dog meant everything to me, and he was trapped. I tried to
get to the van, but people restrained me. Then I heard someone shouting,
'The dog is safe! The dog is safe!' I looked over, and there was this
man I'd never seen before, holding my dog. He had risked his own life to
get my dog out. I'll forever be in his debt. Just when you don't think
there are heroes any more, one comes along.
"I vowed then and there that if I ever had the chance to
do someone a good turn when it came to a beloved pet, that I would. When
I heard about Samson and his family, I knew this was my chance, so here
The shelter staff was amazed. They all knew about the
van rescue story. It had been in all the papers, and the shelter had
even given the rescuer a reward, but they had never dreamed that
Samson's angel was connected to this earlier good deed.
A few days later, Samson and his angel were on their
way. The dog seemed to know he was going home, because his ears perked
up and his eyes were brighter than they had been in some time.
Just before Christmas, the mail brought one of the best
cards the shelter had ever received. Along with a thank-you note were
photos of a deliriously happy Samson romping with his family in the snow
and snuggling with them by their Christmas tree. Samson was truly where
he belonged, and the staff knew he would live out his days happily
They also knew that Samson's journey home was a true
Christmas miracle, and that angels - and heroes - may still appear when
you need them, even in the most unlikely forms.
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