I first met Old Sam when my running partner and I was out looking for old car bodies to restore. We saw one in a field and pulled into the farmer’s yard. We were greeted by a pack of mongrels that barked, yipped and wagged their tails in anticipation of the boy leg dinner they were about to have. Luckily for us the farmer came out and asked (demanded to know) what we wanted. My partner was the talker of the pair of us. I generally can’t do more than grunt when some beast is chawing on my leg.
About that time the farmer pauses in his conversation with my partner to look at me and said, “Don’t let that dog chaw you, boy! Kick him away!” I mutter something about how I like dogs and it didn’t hurt. The farmer may not have heard what I said, but the dog did and redoubled it’s efforts to gnaw some of the meat off my bones. Finally the conversation between my partner and the farmer was over. They had agreed to disagree. My partner offered the vast sum of nothing and the farmer wanted something for the old car. Me, I was just happy to be going, as that dog was getting intense. As I turned to go to the passenger side of my partner’s car, when this dirty, stinky huge dog critter jumps up and puts his forepaws on my shoulder. One bite and my head would be checking for oil leaks under my partner’s car. When the dog licked my neck, the only person more surprised than me was the farmer. “That’s Old Sam.” He said. “Sam don’t like anyone. He barely tolerates me!” I pat the dog’s massive head and he licks me again. “You oughta take him home, he likes you so well,” said the farmer. So I suffered through twenty miles of hot stinky big dog in my lap to my house.
Sam was a great dog. He put himself between a prairie wolf and me. I know he was too smart to fight it, but he would if he had to protect me.
He was also a serious hunter. When Sam sniffed around and then put his forepaws on a tree trunk, there was a squirrel in that tree. If you didn’t see it or worse, missed your shot, he’d figure you weren’t really trying to make meat and would go home, leaving you there.
I once stopped the tractor I was driving in the hayfield to catch a baby rabbit to take home to my little cousin who stayed with us. It was a wasted effort, as my cousin could care less about some flea ridden rabbit. I took it into our pasture to let it go. Sam went with me. I set the bunny down and it dashed into some weeds. I get this idea and tell Sam to go get it. He looked at me like I was stupid. Had I wanted the durn thing then why did I let it go? As I was going to town that night I went back to the house. When I was ready to go to town, I walked out and saw Sam sitting by the gate. The bunny hung limp from his mouth.
I felt bad and told Sam that I had said “Get it”, but had said nothing about killing it. He lowered he head and set the bunny on the ground. It dashed off into our garden. Sam got a half pound of bologna for that one.
The years passed and I went into the service. Two years later I came back to the farm on leave. Old Sam growled and snapped like he was going to tear me up. I talked to him and let him sniff my hand. In fact I couldn’t get my hand away from the big wet nose. After a bit he remembered who I was and you would have thought that he was a puppy the way he ran in circles yipping and carrying on. Finally he sat beside me and took my hand in those huge jaws. Not to bite, but to hold while he licked my hand.
A short time after I returned to the service I got a letter from my granny. She wrote “You know, Old Sam died:. Reckon you’d want to know.”
Someday in the not too distant future Old Sam and I will hunt again.