Samson the Pug plops down happily on the ground, his purple octopus toy firmly gripped in his mouth. Looking at his bright eyes, shining coat, and big smile (once he relinquishes the soggy octopus), it’s hard to believe that this happy-go-lucky dog was close to death only months ago.

But thanks to Summit Veterinary Referral, today 13-year-old Samson is happy, healthy, and ready for all of life’s adventures.

“Samson is the kind of dog who’s laid back,” his guardian, Gary Snyder, said. “He’d help a thief steal things.”

But not long ago, Samson was suffering with unresolved diabetes and his vision was hampered by cataracts.

“He’d been to a number of places,” Gary recalled, “but they didn’t know what to do. There was a lot of guessing. We went through four different veterinarians. One veterinarian suggested euthanasia, but we just couldn’t do it.”

Samson turned his head toward Gary and then picked up his octopus again. Gary laughed.

Samson and his octopus

“After eating, he always grabs and shakes his octopus,” he explained. Samson turned back and looked at Gary.

“Before we went to Summit, he was taking up to 18 units of insulin a day,” Gary continued. He got really, really sick…he was two doors away from death.”

And then Gary saw a Summit pamphlet at one of his veterinary appointments.

“I went and saw Dr. Kelly McCord, who said that Samson was suffering from the Somogyi effect, or an adverse reaction to insulin,” Gary recalled. “So we put Samson on a different type of insulin, and now his blood sugar is stabilized.”

Now, Samson gets his fructosamine checked every few months and he’s a whole new dog.

“The care at Summit is the kind of care you’d want to get as a human, but can’t,” Gary said. “They’re friendly, forthright, accurate, great communicators – I have nothing but good things to say about them.”

After his blood sugar was finally stabilized, Samson then had bilateral cataract surgery performed by Dr. Nathan Kice at Summit.

“He was going blind, and he just looked like this old dog who laid around and then bumped into things,” Gary recalled. “After the surgery, it was like throwing on a switch – he had as much hop in his step as a 13-year-old dog can get. He really was like a whole new dog.”

Samson loves car rides, traveling, his toy octopus, watching Westerns, lazing in front of the fireplace, eating frozen green beans, and short jaunts around his Bremerton property. He also has a propensity for mischief.

“When I was moving up here from Arizona,” Gary recalled, “he was in the running truck with the doors shut. The next thing I knew, he’d locked me out of the truck, and I had to break a window to get back in!” he said, laughing.

“He gets mad when we wash his toys, too,” chimed in Gary’s mother, Linda. “He sleeps with his froggy – that’s his ‘baby,’ and when you say, ‘Go get your baby,’ he’ll go and get it,” Linda said with a laugh.

Samson enjoys a snack of frozen green beans and sits on a rug near the table when his family has dinner.

Gary and Samson

The Snyder Family has had dogs for years, including collies, beagles, Newfoundlands, and mixed breed dogs. Gary recalled a favorite childhood story.

“There were three boys in the family, and my mom loves to tell the story about when we three boys were very young, between the ages of seven and 14,” he said. “We were a motorcycle family. All of us kids lived on two wheels. One day, we decided it was necessary to ride our motorcycles in the back door, through the kitchen, through the living room, then out the front door. Mom said she was standing there, a bit shocked as the procession unfolded, engines revving. Three boys on racing motorcycles, we came bounding, the parade closely followed by Willie, our beloved Toy Collie.

“Mom never said a thing and no one ever got a talking too. I’ve always assumed it was because Willie was there to add a little cute and warmth to an otherwise rowdy, aggressive rampage!”

“When Samson was really little,” Linda added, laughing, “Gary would be carrying this tiny dog in his leather jacket. That puppy was a real chick magnet!”

“Not only did Summit save Samson’s life, but they extended it, too,” Gary said. “He’s been returned to as close to 100% as he could be. He was on his deathbed, but now he has such wonderful quality of life. Summit took a lot of time with me when I met with them. I thought that it would be more expensive to go to a specialist, but I’ve actually saved money, because he has a definitive diagnosis now and he doesn’t need to go to the veterinarian as often.”

“Mr. Snyder and Samson have been a delight to work with in part due to Samson’s difficult journey to get to cataract surgery and all the diligent care required prior to and after surgery,” said Dr. Kice. “I overheard Mr. Snyder coaching another family as they were picking up their dog following cataract surgery and he was supportive and motivating. His encouragement to the new family that all of their hard work was worth it was inspiring and affirming for me as a caregiver. I hope this spotlight on the Snyder family brings a smile to every reader’s face as it did mine.”

Summit Veterinary Referral Center, which was created to be a singular solution to a diverse range of veterinary issues, is a collective of diverse specialists that offers complete, integrative care to the greater Puget Sound veterinary community. Summit is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week ER service for pet emergencies. Summit’s specialties include surgery, critical care, oncology, internal medicine, radiology, and neurology. To learn more about Summit Veterinary Referral Center, visit