When Leah Stavish realized that her Samson, her beloved companion for the last fifteen years, was beginning to suffer, with the help of her veterinarian, she made the difficult decision to do what was kindness for the dog who meant so much to her for so long. She made an appointment for the vet to come to her house and gently help Samson over the Rainbow Bridge on a Friday morning.
The decision was not an easy one to make. Samson had been with Leah since he was a puppy, and until he was diagnosed with vestibular disease a year and a half ago, he was her constant companion. Whenever you saw Leah, Samson was with her. He even went to work with her at Four Paws Only in Seneca, where she is a groomer.
During the last year and a half, she spent even more time with Samson. She cut back on her work hours so she could be with him, because she didn't know how much longer she would have him. Last summer, the vet gave her the bad news that Samson probably had cancer, so she tried to make the most of every moment she could with him.
Finally she realized that the time had come when she was doing Samson no favor by holding on to him. He was deteriorating, she she gave him the last kindness she could - a humane death with dignity, with her holding him as he left for that Bridge.
But before Samson crossed the Rainbow Bridge, she was determined to make his last week the very best week of his life. With the help of her friends, she planned to take Samson to all of his favorite places, to give him a chance to play with his dog and human friends one more time, and to let those who loved Samson over the years say goodbye to him.
These are some of the things Samson did during that last best week of his life. Please read through all of the slides, especially the ending slide, which describes his trip to the Rainbow Bridge. Samson lived a great life, was loved, and died surrounded by love.
Samson - a true gentleman
Leah and her friends set out to make Samson's last week the best week ever. They planned car rides, visits to his favorite places like Four Paws and Petsmart, as well as trips to the Botanical Gardens and a boat trip on Lake Keowee.
Samson's last snowfall
The snowstorm came through a month or so before Samson crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Samson was able to enjoy the snow one last time! It was cold!
Best Friends Forever
Pinto and Samson became good friends while both spent time at Four Paws Only in Seneca, where Pinto's "mom" and Samson's "mom" work. That last week he spent a lot of time with Pinto. Here he's sharing a dog bed with Pinto.
What dog doesn't love to ride in the car, with his head out the window? Samson loved it, so his bucket list included several trips out in the car so he could feel the wind against his face.
One last walk in the Botanical Gardens
The Clemson University Botanical Gardens were one of Samson's favorite places to visit. Here Samson is walking through the Gardens with Leah on his last trip there.
By the pond
No trip to the Botanical Gardens would be complete without Samson visiting the pond there, so of course they spent time letting him enjoy it.
Smelling the roses
These may not be roses, but Samson had lots of fun on that last trip to the Botanical Gardens smelling the flowers and the plants. He loved all the sights and smells of the Gardens.
One last boat ride
Leah and her friends took Samson out on Lake Keowee for one last boat ride in Kristine Fortin's pontoon boat. It was his best day on the lake ever!
Spending time with friends
Samson's favorite friends, both human and canine, enjoyed the day on Lake Keowee. Here they are shown relaxing on an island in Lake Keowee where they docked the boat. From left to right, Karen Williams holding Pig, Leah Stavish with Samson, Kristine Fortin with Mojo and Zookie, and Paul Shivery with Pinto.
Samson is shown here on the shore of the island in Lake Keowee with Zookie and Zookie's "mom" Kristine Fortin. He loved spending time with his friends!
One last afternoon with his friends
What could be better than an afternoon fishing with Samson's friends Pinto, Mojo, and Zookie? They had spent a lot of time over the years together on the lake, and they all enjoyed their final trip together.
Chasing sticks in the lake!
Nothing is more fun that retrieving sticks in Lake Keowee! Samson loved to swim in the lake and chasing sticks made it even more special! He loved to swim and even though the water was still cool, he enjoyed his swim.
Unless it's bringing them back
Nothing is more fun that retrieving sticks in Lake Keowee! Samson loved to swim in the lake and chasing sticks made it even more special!
The last night...
Thursday night was the last night before Samson crossed the Rainbow Bridge. This is how Leah describes her last hours with her beloved Samson:
I stayed up all night Thursday with Samson, even though he was sleeping, just so I could spend every minute with him that I could. Paul and I took him to the Clemson dike to walk and watch the sunrise Friday morning. It was beautiful and there was a lot of fog. On the way home we drove thru McDonalds and got him a chicken biscuit. The whole week he was allowed to eat whatever he wanted bc, since his digestive system was failing, he had had a very strict diet for awhile. He had hot dogs, turkey, pizza, chicken, shrimp, whatever!.
Crossing the bridge
Friday morning, Samson went to the Rainbow Bridge, surrounded by the love he knew all of his life.
When the vet arrived, Paul fed Samson steak, one of his favorite foods, which he was receiving the sedative, and continued to feed him as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She never left his side, not even after he had already crossed the Bridge. She wanted to take no chances that she might not get back Samson's ashes, so she carried him to the crematory, and even carried him to the chamber. Afterwards, Paul went in to make sure that was getting Samson's ashes back.
Samson lived a good life, and thanks to the love of his "mom", he had a good death with dignity. So many dogs will never have a chance to experience even a small part of what Samson did during his days on this planet.
The photo at the beginning of the article is a perfect description of Samson: a true gentleman.