I will never know what possessed me to check out Petfinder that day in January 2011. I knew better. We already had three rescue dogs at home, all high-maintenance terriers. I needed a fourth dog like the proverbial hole in my head. But there I was, staring at Petfinder.
And there she was.
Sadie was a 14-year-old Westie girl. She had been left at our local kill shelter by her owner, who was moving and decided not to take her. (I will stop here on that subject, as any further words about the subject would be unprintable.)
Something about the picture of Sadie, something about her eyes. She looked into the camera with a quiet dignity that touched my heart. I immediately wrote to the rescue group. Part of me hoped I’d learn that Sadie had already been adopted.
I found out through the rescue rep that Sadie had a host of neglect-related health issues, she was deaf from untreated ear infections, and her teeth were so terrible that most of them on one side of her mouth had to be pulled. She also had a large fatty tumor in her underbelly that was removed at the same time as her dental work.
Still, something made me forward her information to my very logical-minded husband, as I just knew he would “talk me down off the ledge” and make me see reason. At her age? As quickly as you get attached to animals? No, he would be the voice of reason, I felt sure.
But her eyes — something about Sadie’s eyes in the picture — they took hold. My formerly left-brained husband threw logic out the window and said, “We have to help her.”
Before we knew it, Sadie Mae (we added her middle name, reasoning that she had earned it) was living in our home. Or, rather, she was allowing us the privilege of living with her. She flourished in her new life at the beach. This little girl had such a joy in living, and she taught me many things — mainly, that appearances can be deceiving.
I had trepidations about her deafness because I’d never been around a deaf animal, but it turned out to be a non-issue. If anything, she was quiet and even more lovable, but if she did happen to growl or make a sound, all of us stopped in our tracks because it was so infrequent.
Sadie had a spark in her eye, she loved me unquestionably and as deeply as if we had been together for all her years. She was my shadow and constant companion. She loved everything, everyone, and she liked nothing more than her snacks and playing with her flat toy. Sadie enjoyed life’s simple things.
The fact that this little, neglected animal could be so forgiving and sweet-natured warmed our hearts.
Recently, our little angel girl earned her wings and crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Her kidneys failed, and because she was probably 16, it was not surprising. But still, we were not ready. And we never would have been ready. While losing her was devastating, she had almost two wonderful years with us, or rather, we had two wonderful years with her. Still, I don’t consider this a sad ending. The joy of having her with us is something we will always hold in our hearts.
Despite the pain and grief of losing her, we are better for having shared our life with her. We would do it again without hesitation. With the lessons Sadie taught me, I believe that adopting senior or special needs dogs will be something we’ll do again.
I think Sadie Mae would approve.
Sherrie Trechel is a dog-loving technical writer and animal rescuer who lives at the beach in Northeast Florida with her husband Tom and her three rescue dogs, Brodie, Sophie, and Maggie.
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