Samson’s Legacy

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This stuffed toy worked a very special kind of magic…

When Louisa lost Goliath, she didn’t expect such a trauma. He was old, a creaking shadow of his old self.

But she missed him and still expected him to greet her in the kitchen every morning, wagging his long tail and licking her hand with his great wet tongue.

“Will you get another dog?” her sister Sarah asked as they sat drinking coffee a week after his demise.

Louisa shook her head. “I couldn’t keep up with a puppy now.”

Sarah laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re incredibly sprightly.”

“True, but remember what a pain Goliath was when he was young.”

“Eating your shoes, you mean?”

Louisa nodded.

“He was frightened of angler’s umbrellas, too, wasn’t he?”

Louisa nodded.

“Until he discovered there were sandwiches under them. Then you had to spot them before he did or buy lunch for an angry fisherman.”

Sarah clicked the kettle back on.

“This has hit you harder than losing Christopher, hasn’t it?”

“When Chris died,” Louisa said, “I still had Goliath.”

He provided a background of snores, tail thumps and click-clack of claws on tiles.

Now the house was silent.

Sarah put an arm around Louisa’s shoulders and squeezed.

“Sometimes I think pets leave bigger holes than husbands.”

“They leave less mess,” Louisa said, and they laughed. Husband Chris had been the ultimate mess machine.

After Sarah went home, Louisa went for a walk. She wasn’t ready to meet the other dog walkers yet, so she headed away from her usual route and into town instead.

She did some window shopping, picked up a few essentials and then rested in a coffee shop with a magazine.

She’d avoided coffee shops with Goliath – his big brown trusting eyes staring in through the window triggered terrible guilt. Today she took her time and read the magazine from cover to cover. What a treat.

The next day, Sarah visited Louisa unexpectedly.

“I know you didn’t want another dog,” she explained, “but I couldn’t help it. This puppy was soooo cute!”

Sarah reached inside her handbag as Louisa gasped. Surely she didn’t have a puppy in there?

Sarah whipped her hand out of the bag and said, “Woof, woof!”

Louisa laughed and held out her hand. Sarah had the cutest, most adorable cuddly toy. Its buff coat was decorated with chocolate patches. It was sitting, six inches high and complete with a lolling pink tongue and long floppy ears.

“Oooh, he’s so soft.” Louisa snuggled it into her cheek. “But I know where he’ll be happiest.”

She crossed the kitchen and put him on Goliath’s old bed, which she hadn’t parted with yet. It looked ridiculous – so small, so comical, so obviously… well, stuffed.

Over the next few days, Louisa realised Sarah had had a stroke of genius because whenever her eye strayed to the bed for her faithful old companion, she saw that lopsided tongue and inanely joyful expression.

Inevitably, she smiled.

Somehow, he made her world happier. Soon she was deliberately looking there for that smile.

It worked,” she admitted to Sarah a month later. They’d met in the coffee shop in town – it had become a regular thing. “Samson really cheered me up.”

Sarah raised her eyebrows. “Samson?”

“He may be tiny, but his persona is strong.”

Sarah cocked her head and regarded the stuffed toy on the table between them. “He is, isn’t he?”

Louisa drained her mug of tea and picked the cake crumbs from her plate.

“I must dash. It’s time for my walk.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t this the time you used to walk Goliath?”

Louisa nodded. “I decided I don’t actually need a dog to take a walk. Keeping to our routine keeps me active and works off all this cake. Plus I get to chat with all the other dog walkers.”

She picked up Samson and was about to pop him back in her bag when she saw Sarah’s face crease with concern.

“You don’t take him with you every time, do you?” Sarah asked.

Louisa shook her head.

“Only today. He’s going to a new home.

“There’s a young mum who walks her children after school every day. They had to give up their spaniel when they moved house.”

Louisa paused for a moment as she remembered the normally gleeful little girls who now looked so glum.

“Samson has worked his magic for me and it’s time for him to move on.” She dropped the soft toy into her bag. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Sarah got up and hugged her.

“Of course I don’t. That’s a lovely thing to do.”

Louisa turned and hurried to the park. It was time for a special puppy to warm another dog’s bed and bring back smiles to other people’s lives.

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