Clay County Humane Society Board President Bill Bell and Cheryl Porter visit with the Robinson family, Andrew, Billie Sue, their twin sons Andy and Mickey and Samson, their beloved black Labrador Retriever.
On February 26, many motorists along I-70 drove past a 9-month-old male black lab puppy laying whimpering in the grass of the median without a second thought, but not Cheryl Porter.
"I was going home to Reelsville after visiting with family when I saw him in the median and turned around. He was scared initially, but when he let me get close enough I could see he needed medical help," Cheryl said. "I thought about taking him on to an animal hospital I know of in Reelsville, but I figured someone would be looking for him and wouldn't be able to make the connection. So I drove to the Clearlake Veterinary Hospital for help."
The facility was closed, but two caregivers at the facility helped Cheryl locate an open animal hospital. When she arrived at Wabash Valley Animal Hospital in Terre Haute, Dr. Andy Pickering was waiting to treat the puppy.
X-rays determined the ball of the leg bone connected to the hip socket had been broken in two and would require surgery within hours to repair or the puppy would have to be euthanized.
Wearing a blue collar without tags showing who the owner was, it didn't look good for the lost puppy.
Porter, an animal lover who volunteers at the Hamilton Animal Control Society, knew the puppy had a family somewhere looking for him, but she went ahead and paid a down payment on the puppy's treatment before setting out to find them.
"When I stopped to help him, I took on the responsibilities that came with that," she said. "He needed surgery right then, so it became a race against the clock."
For years Cheryl has wanted and actually looked for the opportunity to help an animal in need, but never found one.
"I've always looked for the proverbial box of kittens alongside the road to help and never found them," Cheryl said. "I have a soft spot in my heart for animals, probably more so than for some humans sometimes."
That night, Porter drove to the Brazil area and talked to anyone that would listen about the lost puppy before going home to Noblesville. She returned the next day to give information to the Clay County Sheriff's Department and pass out flyers. At the Clay County Humane Society, which was closed to the public but had workers present, she gave the pup's description and a phone number where she could be reached before continuing her search.
By this time Andrew and Billie Sue Robinson were frantically looking for a puppy.
"He'd gotten out of the pen before and disappeared for a couple of days, but he always came home," Billie Sue said. "We were driving around the neighborhood Sunday night, all of us yelling 'Samson' out the windows of our car as loud as we could."
The family continued the search Monday, but didn't make it to the shelter until Tuesday when it opened.
"When I called the shelter, they said they had a black lab and I went to see if it was Samson," Billie Sue said. "It wasn't, but when I told them he had a blue collar, that's when they told me where he was."
As Billie Sue raced to the Wabash Valley Animal Hospital, a phone call from the Clay County Humane Society had Cheryl also racing to meet the owner of the puppy she had tried to find.
"We cried a lot of tears when we met," Cheryl said.
Dr. Pickering performed Samson's surgery on March 1 and the good-natured puppy came home the next day.
"She's our angel, a real-life good Samaritan, for stopping and picking him up. Most people wouldn't do that. And then to help with the medical costs, she's just incredible," Billie Sue said. "Samson's alive sleeping at the end of our bed because of Cheryl. She can come visit him anytime."
With the surgery costing over $1,000, Billie Sue said questions from others about why they didn't just have Samson euthanized is upsetting.
"Samson is like one of our children," she said. "He's part of our family. Why would we want to do that to one of our family?"
It's a feeling that Cheryl agrees with.
"Samson is home and that's what matters most," Cheryl said while playing with the pup.
"If it weren't for the Clay County Humane Society I wouldn't have ever found him. Everyone was so wonderful in helping to bring Samson home to us, I just want to thank them all," Billie Sue said, adding a tip to pet owners. "Get tags for your dog. He has them now, but Samson would have been home sooner if he'd had them on his collar then."