Tomorrow, August 18th, is a very special day in the Pierson household. It’s “Gotcha Day” for our sweet boy, Sammy!

“Gotcha Day” is what many call the day a new pet comes to live with their family—a perfect, heartfelt matchup—and not only did we “get” Sammy, he got us, too!

The beginning of this story starts now nearly 12 years ago, before Sammy was ever born. My daughter, Jessica, adopted a fluffy white Great Pyrenees puppy from a shelter named “Embry”—at that time, the Twilight series was very popular, and when the puppies were born in the shelter, the staff named them all after characters from Twilight. “Embry” was a minor character in the series and my daughter kept the name because she thought it fit him.

About a year-and-a-half later, Jessica had to move from where she lived to a place that had a small backyard, no fence, and was close to a highway. We became “grandparents with custody” at that point—a big relief for all of us—except my husband, Gary,  had sworn off pets after the kids had left home after high school.

Embry as a puppy

It took about a DAY for him to realize that Embry was his soul-mate dog. Embry lived with us until his death in July, 2018.

I’ve spent my life taking care of animals and people, and I knew Embry would want us to rescue another dog and bring him or her into our lives. I bugged my husband relentlessly. He dug in his heels. He did not want another dog. But I DID. So how to solve it? I begged him to just “go look” and see

We went to the city shelter in the small town where I was raised, Seminole, Oklahoma. There was a dog that I’d shown him on their website that he’d shown mild interest in. I asked them to bring Sammy out for us to see. Sammy came right over to us, sat down on Gary’s foot, and would not budge. When he looked up at Gary, his entire expression said, “You are mine. I’m so glad you’re here for me!” I asked Gary if he wanted to look around, and he said, “No. There’s no need.”

Sammy’s shelter intake picture

He dubbed Sammy “Sweet Seminole Sam” and August 18th became Sammy’s “Gotcha Day”—one of the best days in our lives.

The first real bed Sammy has ever had. His first day with us.

But the story doesn’t end there! At the shelter, Sammy had been a social butterfly. The employees and other dogs all loved Sammy. Believe it or not, Sammy had been adopted once and returned—for digging holes in the backyard. He was about three months old, and put into the backyard alone, left to his own devices. I think he was trying to dig his way out and back to his friends!

After we’d had Sammy for a couple of months, I noticed a kind of pensive expression on his sweet face sometimes. I could only imagine what was going through his mind. I told Gary I thought Sammy needed another dog.

Sammy looking thoughtful. He’s about 11 months old here.

I love them all, but knew that we should probably look for a dog that was about the same age or younger than Sammy, who, at that time, was around 13 months old. This was in February 2019. 

There was a little waif that had been dumped with his siblings on the shelter steps when they were not even a month old. That would have been late January. He was white with light brown shading on his back. They thought he was part Great Pyrenees, probably from his coloring, but there were darker colored siblings, so said he might be also part German Shepherd. I didn’t care what he was—he was ALL love! He looked so lost and forlorn in his picture that was posted. I knew he was the one.

He had been named “Axel”–but that didn’t fit. We changed it to “Max” in case he’d gotten used to hearing that sound, and already might have started learning his name.

Jessica and I drove the hour drive to Seminole to pick him up. On the way home, he threw up in the back seat, and when I was holding him, he peed on me—twice! Then he went to sleep. I was in love. His “Gotcha Day” is March 11, 2019.

When we got him home, I went to pick Sammy up from doggie daycare, and Jessica gave Max a bath. Sammy walked right in and loved him immediately. It was “Gotcha Day” for Sammy, too—he got a new little brother!

Sammy and Max meet each other for the first time. Sammy is being so careful. Max adores him!

If I had a bigger place, I would have as many dogs as I could. It would be “Gotcha Day” several times over!

This was taken about a year ago–one of my favorite pictures of them. Max has gathered all the toys in a pile in front of him. Sammy came up to tell on him, and their expressions say it all–Max is so proud of himself. Sammy is saying, “Oh, brother! Look what I have to put up with!”

Do you have a pet that you celebrate “Gotcha Day” for? Since we don’t know their birthdays, this is the day we celebrate with ice cream cones, special treats, and car rides! What do you do for your pet’s “Gotcha Day” to celebrate?

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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34 thoughts on “GOTCHA DAY FOR SWEET SEMINOLE SAM! by Cheryl Pierson”

  1. I’ve had one dog that we rescued and that was BabyGirl. A Pomeranian Maltese. My husband sent me a picture of her while I was at work and said can we keep her. She won my heart and she came home with him that day. I have one of her puppies now. She has been gone for a few years now. I never thought of a Gothca day before. I just know that I loved her and miss her very much.

    • Awww, Charlene. That’s how Embry was with my husband. I loved that dog so much, but Gary had a “soul” connection with him. Embry was that “one in a lifetime” dog for Gary. He is crazy about the two we have now, but I know for him there will never be another Embry. It’s just that way sometimes. I think one misconception when a dog passes on is that to bring home another one too soon or even AT ALL is somehow being disloyal to the one that passed, or trying to replace them somehow. Our hearts are huge, and the capacity to love is unlimited. If I had 100 dogs I would love them all. LOL I’m so glad you had BabyGirl for the time you did–and how great to still have one of her puppies!

    • My sister had terrible allergies for most of her life to animals, but she ended up getting a little westie that she adored a few years back. She researched to find the kind of dog that wouldn’t shed, etc. And she also got some prescription allergy meds that helped a lot. I totally understand, about allergies. I’ve had them all my life, too and living in Oklahoma does not help!

    • Abigail, you were her angel on earth. So many animals out there just die alone and unloved. She knew she had a place with you and was loved if even for a short time. There is no great gift. There are others that need a good home, and you sound like you have a wonderful nurturing home to give! Maybe you’ll feel like adopting another cat here in a few days. This is “clear the shelter” month in a lot of areas with reduced adoption fees.

    • We had two cats the entire time my kids were little. The kittens were littermates. We’d gone to get one for my daughter, who was 7 at the time, and had explained all this to my son, Casey, who was 4. She had her heart set on a white one, which my sister saved for her–there were 5 in the litter, 2 orange striped tabbies, 1 white, and 2 tortoise-shell. So we got to my sister’s and Jessica was holding her new white kitten, and Casey came over and picked up one of the orange ones and with a big grin on his face says, “And THIS is the kitty I want!” How could I say no? Hubby was not happy. But those cats loved it here and they were inside cats, had each other, and lived to be very old–Casey’s lived 21 years and Jessica’s lived to be 17. What do you do for your cats’ Gotcha Days?

        • I’m not sure why my reply didn’t show up but I will reply again and hope that it “takes” this time. LOL I usually coax them to take medicine they don’t care for by putting it in ice cream, but today there will be only pure goodness–no meds! LOL They love those cones, too, so I make them both an ice cream cone and cut it in pieces, then take it to the back yard in bowls and let them chow down. That’ll be for this evening when it’s cooled off some.

    • That is so great, Debra! I love rescue stories. Animals have to just be given time to learn to trust. My husband often says, “I wonder that they went through before we got them?”

  2. I have a cat that a feral mother cat had in my front yard. She had four kittens and we found homes for them and I ended up keeping one of them. He was born July 31, 2015 so I guess that would be my gotcha day. Although it was a while before we had him nurtured, but July was when he came to us the first time.

    • AWWWW, I love that! I have two friends who are involved in caring for feral cat communities. They both try to trap them and get them fixed, then put them back where they came from. That is a true labor of love. Yep, sounds like July 31 is his Gotcha Day! Do you do anything special?

    • Estella, I’m so glad you have that sweet cat! I tell you, I could no more go off and leave my dogs for 90 days than anything. I know of so many friends that got their animals that way–volunteering to keep them for a few days/weeks and then the owners decided they didn’t want them back. I don’t understand that, but I just know that they are better off with the people that volunteered to keep them than they were before. So glad your baby found a great home with you!

  3. We are a rescue dog family, too. We currently have two girls. Scout, a red heeler and Australian cattle dog mix, was adopted from a local no-kill shelter after we saw her at an adoption event about 4 years ago. Chelsea is a little black and white fluff ball (no idea what breed) we rescued from the local dog pound 3 years ago. Her litter was dumped on the doorstep one night when they were maybe 6 weeks old. The pound was full so they put a photo on the news and social media hoping to find them homes that day before they had to be euthanized. When we got there, our Chelsea was the only one left and it was love at first sight.

    • Christy, some things are just meant to be, aren’t they? That was how I felt when I saw that picture of Max. He was just looking off into the distance, like, “What am I going to do?” I did apologize to him when I got him home that he got adopted by “older” people who don’t do a lot of walks and dog park stuff, but he seems perfectly content to have Sammy to play with. He is anxious about so many things, I believe we are a good home for him in that respect too. More quiet, no little kids, a routine, and only one other dog that he adores. I don’t understand people who dump puppies on the shelter steps at night. That’s what happened with our Max and his littermates, too–in the dead of winter. So glad your babies got a wonderful home with you and your family!

  4. Awww this is such a sweet story We have two feral kittens we adopted at the same time. In the foster home they were best buds. One is only a month older than the other. We adopted them on Dec. 14, 2019 a week after our thirteen year old cat died. They are now 1 year old and 5/6 months. Little balls of energy and fun. They have been the best thing during this time of supposed isolation. God really is in control. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Lori, I agree wholeheartedly. I would just be stark raving mad by now during this isolation time if I didn’t have my dogs. They are such a blessing! Make us laugh and keep us entertained just by their antics. I’m so glad you got both of your kittens–I don’t know how people can split up animals that have bonded like that. It must be so sad for them when one gets adopted and the other is left behind. Bless you for taking them both and giving them a wonderful life!

  5. We never have celebrated a Gotcha Day for any of our rescues. Our life is chaotic and most of the time I don’t even remember what year we got them. I have had to go back to vet records to figure out how old they are. The only one we guesstimated a birthday for was Olivia, our black lab mix. We fostered the litter we kept her from and April 1 was their estimated birth date. Rather appropriate for this family. Not counting the litters we fostered, we have had up to 4 dogs and 2 cats at once, not counting other creatures. I know what you mean about Sammy sitting on your husband’s foot and not moving. Every dog we have gotten has adored my husband. They come in, gravitate to him, and always tend to sit or lie near him. I remember the pure love in our lab’s eyes when she looked at him. The sad thing was many of the dogs were supposed to be our son’s, even the one we have now. He just never stood a chance when my husband was around. He does love them, but working as much as he does, doesn’t have as much time to spend with them as his dad does.

    • Yes, with Gary being retired, he has definitely spent a lot of time with these two we have now. And also with Embry pretty much from the time he came to live with us, as he retired soon afterward. Patricia, you are a true angel for animals with all you do for them–and for HUMANS, too! You and your husband do so much. My hat’s off to you both! It would be impossible to keep up with Gotcha Days for so many at once! LOL Thanks so much for stopping by–I always love to see you, my friend!

  6. We celebrate Casino’s (Gotcha Day as her Birthday) in April 21st
    We’ve had her 8 years now. She won the puppy lotto when we reduced her as a puppy from Liberal, KS shelter.
    She’s our little angel!

  7. Cheryl, Thank you for sharing these precious fur baby photos. Happy, my Golden Retriever, has been gone 8 years. I’ve never adopted so I haven’t celebrated “Gotcha Day”. I love the idea of it!

    • Awww, Caryl…maybe fostering would be a good way to go–see if another sweet soul becomes a “foster fail” and ends up as your next permanent family member. I know it’s so very hard to lose them. My heart still aches for Embry.

      Tomorrow is Sammy’s big day and he doesn’t even know it yet. LOL We are definitely going for a drive and trying out the new seat barrier I bought. He always tried to climb up between Gary and me on the console! He’s too heavy for me to manage AND drive if I’m by myself, so this new barrier is (hopefully) going to be a godsend. We will go to Braum’s and get ice cream for him and for Max and bring it home to let him feast in the back yard! Not sure what he’ll be having for dinner tomorrow night, but something yummy and wonderful that he loves.

  8. My daughter got me a pup when she got married, my husband was working at the time and so I would be alone all day, so my daughter and my son in law got me a 3 month old pup from the animal shelter. I named him Cinnamon because of his color, they took me with them so that I could choose him and then we took him straight to the vets. We had him for 8 yrs and we lost him tragically , he went out of the yard a couple of days before the 4th of July, he was scared because people had started on with fire crackers, my husband and I were out of town and our daughter and her little family would come and feed him every day . It was really something because he got out of the yard, which of course was fenced in, and when our daughter and her little family came to feed him in the morning he was gone. They looked all over and couldn’t find him, we’ll when they were driving around looking for him my son in law saw something and took my daughter and my 2 grandchildren home and he went out to where he had seen something, well it was our Cinnamon, , he had been run over. Later on that day my husband and I came home so I called my daughter because Cinnamon wasn’t home so my son in law said that they would come right over, he didn’t tell me anything, so I waited for them outside I was waiting for Cinnamon to get out of their vehicle and when he didn’t I was still hopeful, I thought maybe he got hurt and he is at the vets, well my son in law then told me what has happened , he told me that he had buried Cinnamon. It was a very sad day for me Cinnamon was my loyal , lovable little friend. You know the day we first got Cinnamon we didn’t get him because they were closed for the weekend of the 4th of July, and so actually the 4th of July saved him because they were going to euthanize some pups then, so when we went when they opened again , he was still there, so I see it as the 4th of July saved him and the 4th of July took him 8 yrs after. Well, my husband kept telling me that I needed another pup and I told him that I didn’t want another one, because it is so hard to lose a fur baby, well one day my husband surprised me, one day he heard on our local radio station that a man was giving away puppies, I had no idea, I think I was taking my bath at the time when he heard that, so my husband went and the man was giving away the whole litter of pups they were only like 6 weeks old, he was giving them away because they were not full Schnauzer’s and he had even had their little tails cut off hoping they were full Schnauzers. Well my husband surprised me and got me my Honeybear, and we have had him for 7 yrs now,he is so sweet and such a loyal fur pup. So my pups have got me.

  9. Oh, Alicia! How horrible for you with your precious Cinnamon! I wish so much that people would be more respectful of animals and of PEOPLE with PTSD around the 4th of July. This year, we had fireworks going off for a solid week BEFORE the 4th and even 2-3 days afterward. My little Max is so fearful and anxious of so many things–fireworks and other loud noises just send him running. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your hubby is wonderful to have done that for you with Honeybear. He knew how much you missed having a pet to love and care for, I’m sure. My husband did NOT want to get a second dog, but I convinced him that Sammy was so lonely without one–and he knew that Sammy had been one to love all the other dogs at the shelter because they talked about it so much. I think that was what finally made him give in to me about getting another dog, but I must confess, it was as much for me as it was for Sammy. I think we all need something to love and care for–I’ve done that my entire life and it was hard when the kids were all moved out and then after Embry passed, too. So glad to know you have a sweet boy in your life!

  10. All 3 of mine are rescues. Oldest is Sassy. A border collie mix now 8 April 1. Champ is a re-home age 6. Boxer Pit mix. His is Feb.6. And Sage. A 2 yo pit also re-homed. Dec. 18.

    • Jerri, I bet those three really keep you hopping! I would love to have another one, too, but hubby says NO. LOL I think he secretly knows that if I got three I’d want four… LOL Thanks so much for stopping by!

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