Many know Sam Simon as a creator of The Simpsons, the one who walked away from the show in 1993 (but still made $10 million a year from it, according to a profile of him by 60 Minutes in 2007). But many dog lovers know him as a savior — the founder of the Sam Simon Foundation, dedicated to “Saving the lives of dogs to enrich the lives of people,” according to its Facebook page.
With the news that Sam Simon had died at age 59 Sunday of colorectal cancer, the page had a sober update:
It is with much sadness that we must let you know that Sam Simon has passed over. We all miss him, and in his honor, we will continue bringing his vision to light through our work at The Sam Simon Foundation. We take comfort in knowing how many greetings he is receiving across that Rainbow Bridge. We love you Sam!
The Sam Simon Foundation was, of course, not just any dog foundation. As the 60 Minutes profile put it: “Simon is not just any dog nut. This one runs the grandest dog shelter in the country, a five star, six-acre spread in Malibu, perhaps the most desirable real estate on the planet. Here, among the waterfalls and the manicured grounds, the Sam Simon Foundation gives stray and abandoned dogs a new lease on life, literally.”
The profile paints a wonderful picture of Sam and the shelter he created. According to the foundation’s website, all the dogs come from California animal shelters and are trained to be service dogs. It has programs that train service dogs for veterans and that train hearing dogs for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Those dogs who cannot complete the foundation’s service dog programs and become certified assistant dogs, for one reason or another, are offered up for adoption.
The Sam Simon Foundation also runs a mobile veterinary clinic, which travels throughout Los Angeles, providing a variety of free surgeries to cats and dogs belonging to low-income families. According to the 60 Minutes piece, the clinic can take on 30 dogs a day.
Plus, the foundation also runs a pet visitation program, where dogs training to be service dogs visit assisted living homes in the surrounding neighborhood, bringing a bit of joy to seniors while also giving the dogs socialization skills.
And who had paid for all this? The foundation does not accept donations, according to 60 Minutes — Sam Simon paid for everything.
He didn’t even know how much it all cost. Somewhere “in the millions of dollars” per year. “It’s well spent just for the pleasure it gives me, honestly,” he told 60 Minutes.
Amidst all his wealth and his stunning art collection, Simon kept the place above the mantel in his home reserved for his first dog, Lono. There sits an urn with his ashes, with the inscription, “Good friend, Bad dog.” The phrase is tongue in cheek — next to the urn is a photo with Lono surrounded by feathers.
“He’s just torn apart a down pillow. It looks like a snow scene,” Simon said.
Now, as Simon has crossed his own Rainbow Bridge, he’s doubtless got a lot of furry friends waiting for him.
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