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On Life and Love After 50 By Tom Blake
On Life and Love After 50 By Tom Blake

By Tom P. Blake

On the night of Dec. 16, my partner Greta and I picked up her granddaughter, Ashley Avalos, and her two greatgrandchildren, Ava and Anthony, at LAX. They had flown in from North Carolina. We arrived at Greta’s San Clemente home at 10 p.m.

When we opened the front door to enter the house, the five of us were joined by a 150-pound German shepherd, who just walked in with us, right out of the night.

At least he was friendly. He had a collar, but no name tag. I grabbed him by the collar and took him outside in case he had just gotten away from his owners. He was as strong as a horse.

The street was empty. We walked him around the neighborhood, but no one was out looking for him.

Greta telephoned her friend Jane who volunteers at the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter in San Clemente. Jane suggested we telephone the shelter, but no one answered. A message on their recording gave a number to call the Sheriff’s Department. It was 11 p.m. The Sheriff said they could do nothing.

We could not keep the dog at Greta’s home because of the two great grandchildren, and Greta is allergic to dogs. Her backyard is not enclosed. What were we going to do?

The only solution was for me to take him to my Dana Point home and have him stay there with me. I had no idea how comfortable he’d be in the car, let alone the house, or whether he’d devour me on the drive to Dana Point.

We pulled into the garage, and I shut the garage door before we got out of the car. At least he couldn’t get out of the house.

He did a full inspection of the house, with me moving breakable things out of the way. I let him inspect the enclosed backyard.

I decided to sleep downstairs on the couch pull-out bed. All I had to nourish him with was bread and water.

At midnight, I climbed into bed. He tried to do that as well. I finally got him to lie on the rug next to the bed. He was moving around most of the night. He’d put his nose under my arm every 20 minutes or so. Sleep was scarce that night.

At 3 a.m., I remembered we had one Jimmy Dean sausage croissant sandwich in the freezer. I warmed half of it for him. He inhaled it. After that, he settled down and slept from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Samson German Shepherd
Samson. Photo: Tom Blake

For breakfast, he got the other half of the croissant, again, inhaling it. I had coffee.

My mission: get him safely to the animal shelter, where I arrived at 10:15 a.m. No one had called.

I was assured by one of the workers that he would be adopted after a quarantine period. “He’s a magnificent dog,” she said.

This experience opened my eyes to the wonderful San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter that we are so blessed to have. The volunteers there love dogs and cats. Greta’s volunteer friend Jane sent a picture of him. His name was “Samson.”

That night, I found myself missing that big German shepherd who dragged me around for 12 hours.

I checked with the shelter three times over the next week. He was still there.

On Tuesday, Dec. 29, Greta and I went to the shelter to check on Samson. Good news: he was being adopted that day. The new owners had visited him four times before deciding.

We got to see him before he left for his new home. Dog trainer Esther Horn took us to his kennel and explained all the loving care the animals get there. She said, “Samson’s a big puller.” I couldn’t deny that.

It warmed my heart that this story had such a beautiful ending. Visit and support the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter. It will touch your heart. And maybe you will even be moved to adopt one of their beautiful and lonely animals that just want to go to a home.

Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. His latest book can be found online at See his website at (Yes, after 60; time rolls on.) To comment:

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