When my best friend Lisa announced her engagement, I did what any sensible, thirty-something single woman would do.
Did I wallow in self-pity? No.
Did I eat an entire gallon of chocolate ice cream, straight out of the carton? No. (It was strawberry.)
I went out and found a boyfriend. Not just any, old my-best-friend-is-getting-married-and-leaving-me-behind boyfriend. A real catch. He’s charming and debonair. He’s so loyal he practically hangs on my every word. Don’t even get me started on his looks – he has the most devastating eyes I’ve ever seen. Okay… he also has four legs and a tail.
That’s right. The thought of facing life alone led me straight to the local animal shelter. I knew Sam was the dog for me the moment we saw each other. It was magic. Love at first sight.
Over the past few weeks, our life together has settled into a comfortable routine. In the evenings, we enjoy leisurely walks. Friday nights, we cuddle on the sofa and watch movies. Saturdays, we go to the dog park. This is how I have come to find myself discussing my dog’s psyche with a total stranger.
“How long have you had your Ridgeback?” Stranger inquires. We’re sitting next to one another on a bench in the dog park.
“Your dog. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback, right?” Stranger responds.
Oh. I always knew Sam was exotic looking, but I never knew he was from Rhodesia. Is Rhodesia even a country?
“Three weeks,” I answer.
“He’s beautiful. Have you found a way to keep him fulfilled yet?” Stranger asks.
“You know, an activity to fulfill his purpose. Each dog was bred for a specific role. My Collie is a herding breed. So, once a week we go upstate so he can herd sheep.”
“You drive all the way upstate every week just so your dog can chase sheep?”
“Herd, not chase. It satisfies his instincts. You should find a way to do the same for your dog or he could suffer psychologically.” Stranger calls her herding dynamo and they leave the park.
Oh, good grief.
Later, I can’t help myself. I google Rhodesian Ridgeback to discover my dog’s purpose.
Known as the “Lion Dog,” the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred for hunting lions on the African plains…
Wow. I glance at Sam. He looks very non-threatening, snoring softly on the sofa cushions. Could this be right? I’ve never even seen him look twice at a cat. Maybe they’re just small potatoes for him. After all, he’s a lion hunter.
I decide to change Sam’s name to one more befitting the savage beast he must be. Samson is perfect. Who could be a better namesake than the Biblical strongman who tore apart a lion with his bare hands? I don’t want to give my dog an identity crisis, however, so I try to sneak in the new syllable.
“SAMson,” I call. “Let’s go find a way to fulfill your purpose.”
My newly christened dog reluctantly drags himself off the couch and we go in search of lions. As one might imagine, lions are difficult to come by in the city. We try to get a peek at one in the Central Park zoo, but the guard informs me that animals are not allowed on zoo property. Ironic, huh? So, SAMson and I head back home. It’s getting late, anyway, and Lisa’s wedding is tonight.
My lonely grandfather clock strikes two as I arrive home from Lisa’s nuptials. The day has gone from bad to worse. My dog is unfulfilled and so is my dream of having a special wedding day of my own. The bridesmaid’s bouquet falls from my hands to the floor as I give in to my tears.
SAMson licks my face and wags his entire body in an effort to comfort me, but I cannot stop sobbing. Then, he gingerly sniffs the bouquet, lifts his leg and… well, you know the rest.
Looking at my freshly “watered” flowers, I begin to giggle. The giggle turns to a laugh and soon, my tears turn to tears of joy. I have discovered my dog’s true purpose. God put Sam here to be my companion, to bring me happiness. I am not alone. If He decides to bring me a husband, great. If not, I will be okay.
“Come on, Sam,” I beckon. “Let’s watch a video while we fall asleep. Something special, just for you. How about Lion King?”
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