It was the perfect vacation, until this family’s dog carried out his scheme

The Monson family of Arizona went out for a family outing in the Grand Canyon State’s wild outdoors. Visiting the beautiful Saguaro Lake, they planned to have some fun in the sun – and in the water – along with their family dog, a precocious an almost 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Sam. It would be a family experience as perfect as a Norman Rockwell painting.

While the family were experienced swimmers, Sam was not, as he had only been out swimming only a handful of times before. The Monsons therefore brought a life jacket for him to wear, as well as his favorite ball. They essentially did everything they could to put him at ease. Little did they know, however, that he was waiting for this trip, for precisely this opportunity, to carry out his nefarious plan. Dogs are our faithful, loyal companions. We like to imagine they will always be by our sides, possibly even after we’re gone, as you hear occasionally about the hounds so devoted to their owners that they would visit them even after those owners have pass away. They are truly man’s best friend.
But what happens when man’s best friend… turns into a woman’s best enemy? Read on to find out.


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A perfectly innocent beginning

College student Holly Monson was all set to enjoy a vacation in beautiful Saguaro Lake, Arizona with her entire family – including the family’s dog, a Golden Retriever named Sam, who’s almost two years old. Since Sam has only gone swimming a handful of times, and since the lake was a large body of water, the Monsons decided to bring along his adorable doggy life jacket. They even brought his favorite ball along, so they could play fetch. Holly’s father indeed threw the ball in the water, and off in pursuit Sam went, only to spot Holly’s sister midway through, and changed course towards her. The betrayal that came next left them floored.

Taking in the scenery

Considering what would transpire next, Saguaro Lake was about as serene a location as could be found. It’s an artificial lake, created in the late 1920s after the construction of the Stewart Mountain Dam as part of the Salt River Project. It’s also the most popular of the project’s four lakes. The 1,264-acre lake stretches for 10 miles through the Tonto National Forest in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, which encompasses not only Arizona but also California and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. It was named for the saguaro species of cacti, which do not occur naturally anywhere else. You’ve seen them before, even if you weren’t aware you had.

The archetype of the Old West

Saguaro cacti, which resemble huge, green, and thorny candelabras, have come to signify the Wild West, as they have appeared in numerous films and capture the “never say die” essence of the American frontier. Their common name comes from a Native American language, while their scientific name is Carnegiea gigantea – after steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. And the “gigantea” part is pretty accurate – they can grow up to 40 feet tall! This information was probably lost on the Monson family, however, as they watched helplessly while a nefarious scheme came to fruition.

It was a nice lake day…’

An old Klingon proverb suggests that revenge is a dish best served cold, and those guys were pretty big on vengeance. Regardless of the temperature of his plan, Sam definitely put on his “Kiss the chef” apron and cooked up something devious. Over to you, Holly: “Well, it was a nice lake day until my dog decided to drown my sister.” A woman of few words (probably due to Twitter’s character limit), which belie the occasion’s enormity. Don’t give us those puppy dog eyes, Sam. You know what you did.

Hey, I’m barking here!

Sam’s sordid tale of betrayal was not the only such act perpetrated by a canine. In China, a man found a dog lounging in his parking spot, and kicked him until he scurried away. Not content with merely taking his licks and moving on, the pooch rounded up a posse of four-legged hoodlums and went to town on the man’s car, biting its body and windshield wipers. We guess the old saying’s true: every dog truly does have his day.

He did… what?!

Okay, bear with us for this one. We’ve all heard about acts done to get payback for something – keying cars, toilet papering, you name it… but this one’s new. Apparently, although some experts disagree, dogs sometimes… revenge poop. What a world. One woman, who shared her tale of woe online, revealed that after she barred her dog for getting on the couch, she watched as he marched right into her bedroom, and proceeded to make her boudoir into a bathroom.

‘I refuse to take part in this’

The lovely El Paso, Texas, has a baseball team called the Chihuahuas, and they hold an event every so often where dachshunds race for the title of the fastest of the breed – and it’s all sponsored by a fast food chain called Wienerschnitzel, which boasts it has the world’s best hot dogs. In one of the races, however, a dachshund surveyed his surroundings, decided this demeaning stuff is beneath him, and just took off. Neither his handlers nor the Chihuahuas – the baseball players, not the dogs – could corral him.

No remorse

Sam, much like the rebel dachshund, wouldn’t play by society’s rules. He saw an opportunity, and he took it. Gaze deeply into those cold, calculating eyes. They are the eyes of someone who hatched a plan and bided his time, waiting for precisely the right moment to strike. As Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday, “The inches we need are everywhere around us.” Sam went for that inch, and he wouldn’t stop until he got it: devious, scheming, adorable.

Dog overboard!

Assuming your own dog, unlike Sam, won’t try to snuff you out at the drop of a dime, you might consider taking him swimming one day. You should! It can be a really fun experience for you both, but you should still follow some safety rules to make sure you both make it back in one piece. The first safety rule would be to not, under any circumstances, own Sam specifically, because that dog’s crazy and he’s been through some things, but there are other rules to follow as well.

Barking up the wrong pond

Firstly, the Monson family had Sam in a life jacket. That’s a pretty good idea, even if Holly’s sister ended up needing it more than he did. Other things you can do is steer clear of stagnant water, as they might contain dangerous organisms, and watch out for blue-green algae, which can be fatal to dogs. Also, you’d do well to bring some fresh water for your pooch and, last but not least, consider bringing a first aid kit along. Even if your dog doesn’t end up needing it, a family member might…

A plan in motion

For the Monsons, that family member was Holly’s sister. After getting close enough, Sam knew it was time. He only had a small window of opportunity before anyone realizes what was really going on. It was – finally – time to strike, and strike he did, hitting the unsuspecting young woman over the head repeatedly. Much like the Titanic or Pauly Shore’s career after Bio-Dome, she was quickly going down. It might hearten you to realize that not all dogs have sworn a blood oath against their owners.

A sailing trip goes horribly wrong

Mason Ringer, a 24-year-old South Carolina resident, was having a leisurely lunch break with his buddies when, on the spur of the moment, they decided to set sail on a quick boating trip down the Okatie River. All was going well, until the boat hit some rough winds, and capsized. He tried swimming back to shore, but he was going against the current and the raging water was so cold that he was beginning to feel his legs cramp up. Then an unlikely savior appeared…

Woody to the rescue!

Mason, a young father, started to feel like he wasn’t going to make it, and so he stopped swimming, rolled over onto his back, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer. Then he heard a dog barking. Woody, a yellow Labrador who belongs to the owner of the property where Ringer was working, had spotted Mason’s distress. Without a second thought, he jumped into the water and swam to Mason, who had been in the water for an hour. Mason grabbed him by the collar, and he pulled him safely ashore.

‘It was almost effortless for him’

At first, Mason was terrified that not only would he not be saved, but that he would take Woody down with him. It became readily apparent quickly, however, that he was a breed apart, as he “almost effortlessly” pulled him to safety. Mason concluded by saying he went home and kissed his babies, while he saw Woody – equally worthy of a smooch – the following day. “He recognized me. He was staying close to me for a little while,” he said.

A fawn in danger

Mark Freeley was walking his dog Storm, who like Sam is a Golden Retriever, near the water off Long Island, New York. The two were ready to settle in for a nice, relaxing stroll on the banks of the Long Island Sound. Then, to his absolute terror, Mark spotted something thrashing in the water. He took a closer look, and realized it was a fawn. That baby deer was fighting for its life. Something had to be done. And Storm was just the dog to do it.

Storm-ing in to assist

The faithful dog plunged into the water and swam towards the fawn. When he reached it, Storm grabbed it by the neck and then swam back to shore, dragging it along. Making it back safely, the fawn initially tried making a break for it, but collapsed almost immediately. “Leave him, Storm! It’s OK!” Mark shouted, but the dog was going to see it through, and nudged and pulled the deer, trying to make sure it was really okay. Mark then called in some experts – of the human variety this time.

Tragedy almost strikes… again!

The fawn must have really been okay, because as soon as it collected itself… it darted right back into the water! This time humans stepped in, from the Strong Island Animal Rescue League, who looped a dog lead around its neck and brought it ashore, for the second and final time. “I was exhausted to the point my knee blew out, and I collapsed on the beach,” one of the rescuers said. The fawn received treatment for minor injuries and will be released back into the wild once it’s old and strong enough.

‘Shh. No tears. Only dreams’

Back in Saguaro Lake, Sam was doing the opposite of saving his owner from drowning – which amounted to substituting “saving” with the last word in that sentence. It was to be the perfect crime, or so he thought – because dogs have really bad eyesight and he probably figured no one was watching. Sadly – for Sam, pictured here wondering how it all went wrong – someone was, and they sprung into action, before Holly’s sister went to the big kennel in the sky.

All’s well that scents well


Holly, an Arizona State University student, felt it was her duty to let the world know what happened that afternoon on Saguaro Lake. She just couldn’t keep it to herself, as the weight on the secret was weighing down on her soul, so she tweeted about it, along with the photos she so calmly took as her sister was suffocating. The internet at large was fascinated, and simply had to know whether a principal actor was okay. It would not rest until it found out: did Sam make it out alright?

Sam scorches the internet

It turns out Sam – which is probably short for Samael – was alright. And so was Holly’s sister, incidentally, although an exponentially smaller number of people seemed to care. Nevertheless, Holly’s story of an innocent vacation ending with near-assassination almost immediately went viral, with her post getting almost half a million likes and nearly 160,000 retweets. Sam was even turned into a meme, with various netizens quipping, “There’s not enough love for the both of us in this family” and “I saw you petting that dog from across the street, Rachel.”

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