Sam the Lab Takes Stage for Kingdom Dog Ministries
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A Labrador Retriever named Sam illustrated the theme of “trust and obey” during an assembly presentation for Academy students Sept. 2 in the RCC.
Representing Kingdom Dog Ministries, Dr. Fred Simmons, Sam’s trainer, shared simple and timeless biblical truths to demonstrate the power of obedience in the life of a believer. Students were rapt with attention as Dr. Simmons gave Sam commands by voice, whistle and signs, all of which were quickly obeyed. “Sam expresses faithfulness by consistently and confidently obeying his master regardless of consequences,” Dr. Simmons said. Like Sam, he added, we can show our faithfulness to God by obeying his commands in all circumstances.
Dr. Simmons, a dentist by trade, has trained dogs for more Kingdom Dog Ministries 02than 50 years. About five years ago, he was introduced to Kingdom Dog Ministries and was matched with Sam, a yellow lab. Sam, short for Samuel, was named after the prophet, Samuel. “God called Samuel four different times in the Bible and each time, Samuel said, ‘Here I am God, I’m ready to serve,’” Dr. Simmons explained. Sam’s official AKC name is “Proverbs 3:12,” a reference to the loving discipline of God: “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
As a trainee, Sam is still a work in progress, Dr. Simmons said. He has won a title in outdoor field work and is on his way to being fully trained, but he still makes mistakes. “Of course we all make mistakes.” Dr. Simmons said. “Like Sam, we are all works in progress.”
Among the skills dogs must master in their training are sitting, being still, staying and heeling. Dr. Simmons led Sam through a demonstration of all these skills, explaining the parallels between the training we all go through in life. We have to learn first how to be still and sit in order to be taught. Then we have to learn how to “stay put” and not be distracted by the things around us. Ultimately, we can learn how to heel, or walk, with God, following him step by step.
The more we learn to behave and follow God’s instructions, the more God can use us. “Sam gets off the lead like you get off the lead—when he can be trusted,” Dr. Simmons said. To illustrate, Dr. Simmons did not guide Sam by a leash; he allowed Sam to walk beside him with the leash in his mouth.
In another illustration, Dr. Simmons demonstrated our tendency toward “stinking thinking.” He explained that we, just like animals, can be distracted by things in our path that aren’t good for us. He offered Sam a skunk toy, which Sam was told to avoid, and then directed Sam to retrieve a big bone. Sam went after the bone but Kingdom Dog Ministries 04attempted to grab the skunk as well! Dr. Simmons compared this to the way we often pass up something that offers eternal nourishment for something that is attractive, but not good for us.
To end his presentation, Dr. Simmons said one of the last skills a dog is taught is to find something that is lost. “A lab is a fetcher, but we are to be fishers,” he said. Our charge is to be fishers of men, seeking out those who are lost and introducing them to Christ, he explained. He then sent Sam out into the audience to retrieve a hidden lamb toy, which Sam accomplished to everyone’s delight.
FKingdom Dog Ministries 05ollowing Dr. Simmons’ presentation, he invited students to come on stage and see Sam up close. Sam endured the crowd like a pro, licking a few of the students in the face for good measure.
Kingdom Dog Ministries began 15 years ago in Spring, Texas, with one dog and one presenter. Today, KDM has a team of 16 humans and 10 dogs, who have given 873 presentations in 45 states.