Searching for Samson the Jack Russell
by Vaudine Lancaster
Excited, anxious, thrilled, are just a few of the emotions that flowed through my being Thursday morning, July 15, 2011. That night I was expecting Jonathan to arrive from his more than nine hour trip from Siloam Springs, Arkansas, where he is attending John Brown University.
The turn of events started when Jimmy Jones brought the UPS package for Jaimie about 6 pm. He went over to the chain link fence where Samson lives in the back yard and talked with him, knowing his normal routine of chasing each vehicle, then rewarding himself by getting some dog food out of his automatic feeder.
It was nearing 8 pm when Josie arrived, bringing some fresh peas, already shelled and a bag of tomatoes from her garden. In greeting her I remarked that Samson did not bark when she drove up, which was very unusual. Later, about 10 pm Jonathan arrived, and I had the peas cooked and a skillet of hot cornbread, as he requested.
Friday morning I started preparing the meal since arrival time for the plane was 12:05 in Birmingham. I went outside to give Samson some leftovers and he did not come as he normally does. I called him and no answer, nor was he anywhere in the yard. Then I noticed the door to the crawl space under the house was partially open wide enough for Samson to get through. He had somehow pried it open and found a cool place (last year he had done the same thing).
I called him many times but to no avail. He wouldn't come when I tried to bribe him with food. I told Jonathan I would trick him out by starting my car and driving around to the end of the house because he stays primed to chase every vehicle. No luck, no barking, no Samson anywhere!
Friday afternoon the American Airlines flight Jaimie, Tammy and John William boarded would be here from Montevideo, Uruguay, South America. They will enroll John William in college - who will also attend John Brown University. They drove up in the drive-way about 3 pm with no prior notice since they did not have access to a phone at the airport. Their delayed Thanksgiving Dinner was complete except for the cornbread. It was truly special to have their entire family together again.
During the meal Jaimie asked about Samson because he always greets cars, barks, and chases vehicles when they come and go. I told him to wait until we finished our meal and we would discuss Samson later. We did, and a search looking under the house was to no avail.
Jaimie and his family had to leave before 6 am on Saturday. We continued to look under the house but saw no sign of him. Later that morning I called Tommy Cowart who had done work under our house several years ago and was familiar where the plumbing and ductwork was. He made a thorough search and did not see any sign of him but saw evidence of his being under the house. Tommy fixed the door back, and we assumed that Samson had got out the gate somehow. Melanie assured me that if she and Maggie could come down from Huntsville, Maggie would sniff him out
if Samson was hiding under the house. I told her that was too far for her to come.
That night at bedtime I put a chair at the door for extra protection, and was walking to the bedroom and an eerie sound that seemed to come from under the house went Thump, Thump, Thump! I was too scared to go look under the house because I would have to get a screwdriver to get the door open. And I convinced myself it could have easily been the refrigerator starting, giving the sound I heard, since I have an overactive imagination!..
Early Sunday I opened the crawl-space door and looked under the house and called Samson several times, but still no answer. My thoughts led me to thinking of how sad to have to pull Samson out from under the house if he had hid and was dead. Maybe we could put him on a tarp and slide him, or put a rope around him and try to pull him out. Samson is a big dog and it would be a big job, no matter what...and then his funeral...such sad thoughts.
After I finished teaching my Sunday School lesson I told Chasity and Destiny (both dog lovers) about Samson. They were filled with empathy and immediately said they would come to my house early Monday morning and search under the house. Grandmother Catherine drove them, along with Chasity's sister- Crissy, and brother-Bubba, and...their little miniature black dog, Molly.
Quick as a wink, Destiny and Chasity were crawling under the house. Immediately they both said they saw Samson on the other side of the house. To be honest, I did not believe they saw him. They said Samson kind of growled, but he had not made a sound nor barked since Thursday night and I was still reluctant to believe they actually saw or heard him. They said there was a tall board that Samson would not be able to get over to get out from under the house. That is, until they asked for their little Molly (small black pet house dog) to come with them under the house.
Samson determined that no way was this little dog going to invade his turf...and about that time he shot out of that crawl-space like a bullet! What a beautiful sight, and that he was alive. I went inside and opened a can of gourmet dog food Helen Fields had given Samson since Prissy and Dusty would not eat it. He ate the whole can (had no food from Thursday to Monday).
The open sore on his leg was worse and needed immediate attention. Catherine took little Molly home and brought some medicine for Samson's leg. She doctored it, then she and all four grandchildren pampered Samson with a special bath, and they also mowed so he would have a clean area to roam in.
The love, care and work they did cannot be surpassed and there is no way I could express how grateful I am to Catherine, Chasity, Destiny, Crissy, and Bubba for each thing they did in finding Samson today. And as they left, he was back to his old self of chasing their car - making Samson feel like he is still the King of this Hill!