Happy Birthday, Sadie! Today you’ve been with me for two years. I saw your picture on Petfinder and with a little encouragement from a friend; I dared to make the long trek to Clovis Animal Shelter to get you. I called the day before to make sure you were still there. “Oh, she’ll still be here” was the reply. I didn’t really get what that meant until I got there. You wouldn’t let me pet you but there was a dear volunteer at the shelter that sat with me for hours and gave me some ideas on how to best work with you. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, I just knew there was something about you.
After I took care of the paperwork, there were four shelter volunteers and one regular customer crying because they were so happy that someone was finally adopting you. It was only then that they shared that their boss was going to make them put you down that week if no one came for you. You had been there over 3 months and because you were so severely shy, no one noticed you. They told me they had all been praying that someone would come to get you, someone without a man in the house since you were especially terrified of any male, someone without kids, because they knew you would do best in a quiet environment. It was only then I knew why I had been prompted to travel so far to get you.
And so we started the journey. Little did I know that God would you use you to teach me so many things. Dog is God spelled backwards, after all. If nothing else, you are a reminder of his unconditional love. I remember how long it took to get you out of the car that night and you found your spot in the guest room between the two beds and you nestled in and didn’t come out for four days. I have never seen a dog able to curl their tail so tightly, but I guess it’s your way of protecting yourself from all the crazy stuff you’ve been through.
You’re a quirky girl that is nocturnal. We’ve had countless episodes but it’s so hard to correct you, because you always wait for me to go to sleep before beginning your antics so I never catch you in the act! The list is countless, but you’ve demonstrated a fondness for leather destruction (2 Coach handbags, 2 leather collars, work gloves), my shoes, friend’s shoes, coffee table books, empty dog food cans, BBQ scrubbers (from the neighbor’s house, yes, that means a corresponding hole in the fence), and a number of various and sundry things, basically everything except toys. You wouldn’t eat, drink, or relieve yourself in front of me and you were silent. We’ve gotten over most of those hurdles, though you are still my quiet little girl. I remember the first time your tail started wagging! I know I freaked you out because I was so excited. Sorry about that! You finally let me hear your voice for the first time a few months ago. You have even started running to me when I get home. That makes my heart smile because I know it’s so hard for you. At first you couldn’t be near me, but now you follow me everywhere. You are awesome on the leash and you love to walk and hike.
In time, people would come to notice the parallels in our two lives; our mutual love of walking, disappointments in past relationships, quiet natures, shyness, hiding from unfamiliar circumstances, etc. It’s as if God was using you to point out things I needed to work on and heal from. Things we oddly ended up working on together.
That first week, you needed some physical attention. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the local Petco to pick up supplies and saw the grooming salon. I went in and the girls were so kind to offer to work with you late in the day when there were no other animals in the salon. They took such good care of you. They could see the look in your eyes and they went above and beyond to help you.
You were used as a momma breeder dog in a puppy mill situation. You still have your kennel number tattooed on your belly. How many babies did you have? Were you sad when they were taken away from you? So many questions I’ll never have answers for. You were given to a family that neglected you. You still have the scars on your body to prove it. You found your way to the animal shelter and into my home and heart. It took you so long to trust me, but somewhere along the line you got my heart. Not long after getting you, you had a master cell tumor removed, but the margins were clear so we got past that hurdle. Then just a few months ago, the groomers told me they found a lump on you when I came to pick you up.
The groomers were so precious to us; they knew how upset I was with your diagnosis. They took a picture of you, loved you, and gave me a precious card and keychain so that I could always have you with me. We went with a dear friend who is an Veterinary Technician to an Oncologist, Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, CA. She thought of all the questions I was unable to ask. Dr. Vancil told us that you had systemic lymphoma, stage IV, with liver and spleen involvement. You were given weeks to live.
We started treatment and you responded well, in fact, your palpable lumps were gone within a couple of weeks of the start of treatment. By week three you were officially declared in remission, though we completed the full course of weekly treatments. Your swelling is gone! You amaze me. Despite being poked with needles every time we go to the clinic, you are still happy to get in the car. It’s like you know they are helping you and you seem somehow grateful. You somehow relaxed even more. Your attitude has brightened just that much more.
I don’t know what the future holds for either one of us, but I do know that even though you are “just a dog” you’ve taught me so many lessons in the past two years.
Wisdom from Sadie
Trust is earned – Day by day.
No matter what life throws at you, be sweet – Beaten up, battered, neglected, no problem. Always be sweet in spirit.
People are inherently kind – People see something in Sadie’s eyes that makes them go out of their way to be kind to her. She has served to restore my faith in people.
Home is a sanctuary – And your bed can be an oasis. I don’t know if it’s because she’s lived so much of her life in a cage, but she snuggles in and bundles up. I love that about her.
Don’t lash out at others – She’s demonstrated the ability to pierce cans with her teeth, and yet she never lashes out at humans or other dogs, even when she’s scared or frustrated.
Live life one moment at a time – Focus on the moment your in, don’t live in the past or the future. Just enjoy the present!
Show off your skills quietly – She’s the best at walking on a lead. She’s definitely been trained, but she never shows off ostentatiously, she lets people figure out on their own just how awesome she is.
Don’t be greedy – When someone offers you a special treat, accept it with gratitude, but don’t snap it up or take more than your share. Always take it respectfully.
You are a special girl, Sadie. My special girl. And I’m so glad you’re with me. Happy birthday, girlie!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)