A Loyal and Faithful Friend

I lost a good friend yesterday. Her nose was cold, but her heart was warm and her name was Sadie. Even though this post is not filled with teaching ideas and tips, our journey with Sadie DID originate in the teacher's lounge 12 years ago....

When I walked into the teacher's lounge 12 years ago, it was lunch time and as we who are teachers know, our lunch times are NOT filled with peaceful drinks of lemonade and yummy bites of salad! Instead they are filled with hurried bites of whatever we throw into our lunch bags in the morning and a rush to get to the copy machine before the teacher who needs to print 100 copies of a 4 page test that she will be giving in 15 minutes! So........... when I sat down that day to drink my tomato soup in a can, the last thing I was thinking of was getting a dog!

When Sadie came to us, my kids were in the throes of little league, swim meets, sleep overs, and long division! My husband and I resisted their pleas of "P-L-E-A-S-E, can we get a dog?" for many years. We DID have a pet- a wonderful, long haired, female Calico cat named Bitsy. Honestly, we were content to just have Bitsy. She was a sweet and loving companion; especially to my daughter. And besides, she was an adult cat and therefore would not welcome another animal; especially one that drooled and had a loud bark! But kids know how to break down barriers and for many months, my kids started to slowly chip away at my resistance. In fact, they even convinced me to check out our local animal shelter a few Saturday afternoons AND we even signed papers to bring home a pet the next day. But when the kids approached my husband with the idea, he put his foot down and despite the protests, we called the Humane shelter and removed our name from the list.

So..... back to lunch. As I was drinking my soup, I overheard a conversation from one of our third grade teachers about a dog that they had found running in their neighborhood the day before. She said that the dog had the sweetest personality, but she looked a mess - scraggly, filthy, matted fur and teeth that looked like they had been through too much. The dog had no collar and since it was late, they kept her at their house for the night. The next morning, her husband took the dog to the animal shelter and she was commenting about what might happen to that sweet little dog. Well, you know the ending to this part of the story........ The kids and I went to the animal shelter the next day and adopted that sweet, scraggly, little white dog. We knew this little dog was for us because despite her bedraggled appearance, she looked us in the eye and seemed to say "Take me home. I love you already!"

It took us awhile to find a vet who would look at her and groomer who would make her look pretty, but we did. She had to have extensive dental work, a cancerous growth removed, and basic medical procedures. But she persevered through all these treatments and came out a champion! Did she love our cat, Bitsy? No, no, no! They never got along. They never became friends. They tolerated each other and Sadie was the Alpha in the relationship. Cats are masters at hiding and Bitsy found some really nice places she could go to get away from Sadie!

Through the years, Sadie continued to worm her way into our hearts. Despite the many aggravations she caused, she always let us know that she loved us. When my kids were little, she was at their heels always. It is because of Sadie that I know of an animal called a "vole!" She delighted in being "doggy" and digging up the back yard looking for these little creatures. This old picture of my kids and Sadie shows a muddy snout and muddy paws; probably done after a back yard digging event. You can tell from my son and daughter's faces that they thought it was funny. And I have to say, I must have thought so, too; otherwise, why would I have taken this picture?

As the kids grew up and started to move away from home, I became the constant in Sadie's life. It was me who was always there and she knew it. I became her focal point. She waited for me at the front door to come home from school. She greeted me each day with a wagging tail and a big, doggy smile. She loved to take walks and seemed to dance every time we went on one. When I would be on the floor suffering through sit-ups and leg exercises, she was my trainer and sat next to me until I finished. She slept next to me on the floor every night and she sat under my desk chair when I was working in the evenings.

Sadie had an intense attachment to our family. When my kids moved away and I took on an after school tutoring job, she was alone a lot. It caused behavioral issues with her that had to be treated with meds to relax her. We also had a wonderful friend named Melanie, who would give Sadie a break by giving her a late morning walk while I was at school. It didn't take too long for Melanie to fall in love with Sadie with either!

When we received the dire diagnosis in January of liver disease, the vet recommended euthanasia. I asked if we could hold off on this decision for awhile. Sadie had two wonderful vets who supported our delay and were our constant support throughout these 7 months. They kept telling me that Sadie would let us know when it was time....... As I write this, my heart continues to be filled with pain and my mind keeps asking "Did she tell me that it was time or did I just imagine it?" After all, she was still eating and drinking and she still got up to say hello to my husband in the evening. But these last few weeks, her behavior changed. Her food intake was down to 1/2 can of food a day. She slept all day barely raising her head when I went to pet her. When she laid under my chair, she whimpered. When it was time for our dear cat, Bitsy to go, I waited too long. She was skin and bones when the time came. I did not want that to happen to Sadie. Making a pet suffer because of my inability to make the hard choice could not be an option....

So we said good-bye to our friend yesterday. Our vet told us that she had never known a pet to love their family as much as Sadie loved us. But it was Sadie who brought us love and that love will be missed.   As this classic Vulcan saying says "You are and always will be, my friend....." Rest in peace, Sadie.......