Samson Stories: Thief

Samson and I have a morning routine. Samson is big on routine. He’s a Labrador – OCD is in his blood.

Here’s one example – for meals we have Samson sit on a rug in front of the sink while we get his food ready (and by “ready” I mean dump 2 cups of chow in a bowl). We then put his dish down in the designated area and release him. If that rug is not there (if we’re washing it or Isabella is using it as a blanket) he refuses to sit down. He just stares at us incredulously like, “Are you kidding me? You want me to sit on the cold tile floor? Where is my rug? I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS TREATMENT!” Or, if someone is standing on it washing dishes, he looks at them like, “Dude, you’re on my rug and it’s mealtime. Step. Off.”

samson kitchen


Our morning routine starts when I get back from the gym. I grab 2 dog treats (half of a milk bone along with something soft like Beggin’ Strips or Pupperonis) and bring them upstairs with me. I let Samson out of his kennel and he follows me in to the bathroom. I put the treats on the counter and then make him sit on the rug.  He gets the milk bone after I get a kiss.

At this point, any of you non-dog people out there are going – ew, gross, this lady is weird. She makes her dog kiss her. Every morning. For a treat.

You better your sweet bippie I do! Dog lovers unite!

Samson hates it. Or pretends to. In fact some mornings he flat out refuses. So he pokes my face with his nose and we call it good.

I then jump in the shower and he lays down on the rug (again, if there is no rug there, he refuses to even come in the bathroom. He’s special). When I get out of the shower, I find him either like this:

morning samson

(I’m always amazed at how he can get his large 90 lb. body to fit all curled up on one rug)

Or like this:

samson br2 

At which point I squee over how cute he is, snuggle his fuzzy face and then throw him another treat.

This is where the mystery begins.

One day a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t find the 2nd treat on the counter. Turns out I had accidently thrown it in the trash. Don’t worry I dug it out. Hey, this dog will eat flies – he can eat a treat from the trash.

Then a few days later the treat was missing again. Only this time I couldn’t find it in the trash or anywhere else. I searched high and low, then gave up.

The next day it happened again.

At this point I thought I was losing my mind. How could I be misplacing all these treats? Was I going to find a whole arsenal of them in a drawer or something one of these days?

Then I figured it out. Just call me Nancy Drew.

Yesterday I put the treat on the counter, per usual, and hopped in the shower.


I noticed it was gone as soon as I stepped out of the shower 10 minutes later. That’s when I realized that all this time, Samson had been jumping up on the counter and helping himself while I was showering! The little sneak! Not sure why it took me so long to figure this out but I guess it’s because he never usually does this type of thing. We can leave chicken sitting on the kitchen counter and he won’t touch it. He’ll stare at it and drool a lot but he won’t touch it.

Until now. I think the new house has brought out the puppy in him because he’s doing all kinds of things we thought we had moved past – like taking Isabella’s toys, running like a mad dog around the dining room, and now, stealing food.

So our morning routine had to be modified. I still bring the treats up, but now I put them way on the back of the counter, behind all the lotions, soaps and olive oil. What? You don’t keep EVOO in your bathroom? Huh.

Tomorrow is Doggie Day Camp. Hopefully that’ll get some of the stink out of him!

What Goes Around…

Today started out fairly normal. I got up, took Samson to Doggie Day Camp, and went in to work. Normally Samson does DDC on Tuesdays but because I had training yesterday, I switched it to Wednesday. Today happened to be Luau day at DDC so it was all decorated in a Hawaiian theme and they were going to take each dog’s picture. Fun!

The first order of business when I got to work was to get breakfast. I was STARVING (what’s new?) and it just so happens that the café at work has the best hash browns. I swear they’re laced with crack or something. OMG. I needed a decent breakfast because at 8:30 I was scheduled to donate blood. The Red Cross comes in to work every quarter and I try to donate each time. When I finished they gave me a sticker and some Oreo’s. Hell yeah!


Around 10:45 a.m. I got a call from DDC that Samson was peeing blood and had been doing so all morning. She made sure to say that it wasn’t just a little blood either, but a lot. My heart sank. What if it was cancer or something? She wanted to know if they should take him over to the veterinary clinic or let him keep playing. Um, well, let me think. Yeah, perhaps taking him to the vet is the best option here. She said they’d call back when they knew more.

A few minutes later I headed out to lunch. Was going to meet up with an ex-coworker. I was driving down the street when my phone rang and it was the vet. He started telling me about Samson and my phone kept cutting in and out. I got distracted and didn’t notice the cop waiting up ahead where the speed limit changes. I slowed down as soon as I saw him but it was too late. He pulled in behind me and turned on the lights. Perfect!

I pulled over, still talking to the vet and trying to answer his questions without causing an accident. The cop came up to my window and I had to put the vet on hold. Yes, that’s right, I had a police officer outside my window, ready to write me a speeding ticket, at the same time that I had the veterinarian on the phone trying to tell me why my dog was peeing blood.

Needless to say I was a little frazzled.

I gave the officer my driver’s license and he told me to sit tight. As he walked back to the patrol car, I returned my attention to the vet. He asked for permission to run an urinalysis, which would cost about $125. That combined with the antibiotics they’d almost certainly have to give him would bring our bill to $230. I told him to go ahead. Samson is worth it.

Just as I hung up, the cop came back. He glanced in and made a snide remark about me being done with my phone call. I told him my dog was in the hospital and I was talking to the doc. He shrugged and proceeded to tell me I was going 49 in a 35 mph zone, which would be a $75 ticket. That plus the court costs would take the final total to $125. He then said something that surprised me.

“I see you donated blood this morning.”

I had totally forgotten I was still wearing the sticker. I nodded yes and then he said, “Well, given that, you probably aren’t yourself. Plus it seems you’re having dog problems. So, I’m going to give you a break today and let you off with a warning. Let that be a lesson to you.”

Yes sir! I happily signed the warning ticket and went on my merry way. Phew! I guess he took the sentiment of the sticker seriously and decided to be REALLY nice to me!

As for Samson, it turns out he has hemoglobinurnia. There are many causes but the vet thought in his case it was due to “vigorous movement of the bladder during extraneous exercise that lead to the rupture of the mucosal layer beneath the urinary bladder and causes a passage of blood with the urine”. He also had a mild UTI. So I picked him up, along with some special luau treats, medicine and a very high bill, and we went on our way. But not before they gave us this picture of him at the luau!


He doesn’t look to be suffering too much!

He came home and peed for like a good solid minute, but there was no blood in it that I could see so I think he’s on the mend. Right now he’s laying on the couch, passed out. Poor dude. I’m glad it’s nothing more serious and that he’ll be back to normal in a few days.

Let this be a lesson to all of you: it pays to donate blood – it can get you out of a speeding ticket!

(P.S. This is my 3rd time being pulled over for a speeding ticket since I started driving. I’ve never had to pay a single ticket. The first time was when I was in college in Cedar Rapids and the cop let me off because I had a Nebraska driver’s license and his grandma lived in Nebraska. The second time, I sent in my money and a few months later my check was returned to me because they never got around to processing it. And then today was the 3rd time. Now that I’ve said that, I’ve jinxed myself. I need to go find some wood and like body slam myself against it.)

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Samson Stories: Walking

Samson loves to go for walks. It’s his chance to get out in the world and pee all over it.

Today we went for our first morning walk/run of the new year. The weather was perfect – 50 degrees – and the air was crisp. My iPod was strapped to my arm and we were ready to go!

Then we started walking and I forgot how bad Samson is at this. At first. He gets better the more we do it but today was a struggle.

Let’s back up. When we first got Samson he was a wild buck, full of energy and independence. He’s also freakishly strong. The first time I tried to walk him, I was using a regular old run of the mill leash. He took one look at it and scoffed. Silly human thinks she can control me with that flimsy thing? I’ll show her!

I got dragged all over the neighborhood. I was in tears by the time we got back home.

The vet suggested we try a choke chain. Basically, a choke chain is loose around their neck, but tightens if they try to pull, giving the feeling of being choked for a second. It doesn’t hurt them, it’s just meant to stop them from the pulling. Not Samson! He pulled anyway until he was out of breath. Then he’d stop, take a deep breath and keep pulling!

Again, I was dragged all over the neighborhood and in tears by the time I got back home.

Next on the list to try was a prong collar. It looks like a torture device with metal prongs (that are dull on the end so as not to puncture the dog’s skin). Again, it’s meant to poke at them to stop the pulling. Didn’t phase Samson what-so-ever. He would come back from walks with marks dug in to his neck. And I would be in tears.

Someone suggested a body harness. Basically it goes across his chest. That was the biggest mistake because guess where all his power comes from? Yeah. He really yanked me good then!

As a last resort, we tried the Gentle Leader, which goes around his snout, and then attaches to a collar on his neck.


The idea is that if he pulls, it will pull his head back and to the side. Also, the leader is on his nose which has the least amount of power. It worked. Or would have if we could get him to walk. As soon as we put it on, he dropped down on the ground and started thrashing about like he was having a seizure or something!  He would not get up. for. anything. I finally gave up and just took him inside. We kept trying and eventually he submitted.

He makes you work to get it on him though. You have to chase him around the house. The only way to do it is make him go to his kennel, and then he’s cornered. Then he licks it obsessively. That’s his way of showing dominance over the Gentle Leader. “You may make me obey while you’re on, but dammit I’m gonna lick the crap out of you before and after!”

Like I said before, Samson is freakishly strong. He’s 90 lbs of solid muscle. So he can still yank me around if he gets enough momentum and drive.

And the first walk of the season sucks the most because he’s forgotten all his training. He pulls. He stops suddenly to sniff or pee or both. He lurches. He scratches at his nose to try and get the leader off. And he does “The Seal”.

This is a maneuver that he does a lot. Not sure if he’s trying to get the leash off or wipe his scent on the ground or what. What he does is dip his nose down to the grass and then push off his front paws, like he’s diving in to the water. He ends up sliding across the grass and then he rolls from side to side before pushing off again. It really does look like a seal swimming.

One thing he doesn’t do on walks is poop. He has a hang up about it. I think it’s a commandment in his little doggie world – ‘Thou Shall Not Poop in Thy Neighbor’s Yard”. Our neighbors appreciate that and so do I! Means I don’t have to pick it up!

But, today he took a big ole dump right in the middle of someone’s lawn, and of course I didn’t have a baggie on me. Cardinal sin, I know. I feel bad. He doesn’t leave small piles either…oh well.

So here’s hoping that he gets better as the season progresses and he gets more practice in. He and I both need to get back in running shape so the weekly runs ought to do us good!


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Samson Stories: ‘Fraidy Cat

Samson would like you to believe he’s a big tough guy.

He plays rough.

He drools a lot and doesn’t even care.

Seriously, that is not a necklace or string in his mouth. It’s 2 long strands of drool that connected at the bottom. He’s so refined…

He refuses to back down.

And let’s face it, he’s a big dog. 90 lbs of solid muscle. Yet, when you get to know him, you see through the cracks in his exterior to the soft little puddle on the inside.

And you learn he’s a big scardy cat.

He hates water. Yes, we have a yellow lab, dogs built for hunting and snatching prey out of the water, and he’s doesn’t like to get wet.

He also refuses to go outside at night or early in the morning when it’s dark. I mean, there might be raccoons or something out there!

His newest phobia? The floor register in my bathroom.

As part of getting our house ready to put on the market, we are painting our master bedroom and bathroom. CJ started the project over the weekend and as part of it decided to buy new floor registers (the old ones were starting to get rusty). So there was a square-shaped hole in the floor of the bathroom for a couple of days.


I talked a while back about Samson’s typical day and an important part of it is “helping” me shower in the morning. As soon as I turn the water on, he comes in the bathroom and sits down against the wall. I give him a treat and then he lays down until I’m done showering. Keep in mind that my bathroom is small so there’s not a ton of room. Once he lays down, he takes up the whole floor and therefore must lay on the register.

Normally he likes that. In the winter, there is warm air spilling out and in the summer, cool air flows from the magic floor.

However, this weekend, there was a big hole where the register used to be and he was not having it. I went to take my shower on Sunday and he followed me in, per usual, but stayed as far away from the hole as possible. Then he left. Then he came back and stared at it. Then he stuck his head between my legs, looking up at me. I could see the fear in his eyes, like the hole might swallow him up. I tried to tell him it was ok, that he wouldn’t fall through if he laid on it, because he’s ginormous. But he didn’t believe me. So he scurried out in to the bedroom and refused to come back in.

The next day, the new floor register was in but Samson was still traumatized by the gaping hole from the day before so he came in the bathroom but sat next to the register, not on it. He wouldn’t get anywhere close. However, at some point during my shower, he fell asleep and in his unconsciousness, rolled over on to the register. He didn’t notice until I got out of the shower at which time he awoke, jumped up and ran out. Dork.

That’s the way it’s been all week. Finally yesterday he braved it, laid on the register and didn’t die. We were all grateful and there was much celebration.

CJ finished the bedroom last weekend but is still working on the bathroom, as time allows. Last night he got it all taped off and cut in. Naturally, that meant that there was blue tape all over the bathroom, including on the floor by the baseboard.

Danger Will Robinson!

As soon as Samson saw the blue tape this morning he backed up and slowly exited the bathroom. Then looked at me, looked back in the room and back at me, as if to say, “Mom! There is danger ahead! Enter at your own risk!”

It’ll probably take another week before he is brave enough to resume normal showering routines. Maybe I’ll mess with him and remove the rug.   

I just hope we don’t ever get robbed by someone carrying a floor register or watering can. We’d be so screwed.

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