Sadie the mixed breed is a hit with kids, the elderly, and just about everyone she meets.
Her happy smile attracts plenty of attention as she travels with her human, advocating against bullying and teaching people how to end the cycle of abuse. She’s been the subject of TV, radio, and newspaper interviews. Everyone wants a piece of Sadie, but the bullet scar between her eyes tells us this dog wasn’t always wanted.
The story of Sadie’s second life begins almost five years ago, when Wisconsin-based professional organizer Joal Derse Dauer dropped off a load of blankets at an animal shelter. The bedding had been purged from clients’ homes, and Derse Dauer knew the shelter where she’d previously adopted her other dog — a Border Collie mix named Sparky — was in need of nice blankets.
“I took them down there, and I was not looking for another dog or cat,” Derse Dauer remembers, but as she was walking out of the facility, a cute black-and-brown mixed breed caught her eye, and she asked shelter staff what the dog’s story was.
“They told me that Sadie had just been brought in from Kentucky and she had been shot in the head right between the eyes and in the back. Some kind people found her in the mountains of Kentucky, took her to the vet, and through a series of events she was transported to the no-kill shelter where I was dropping off the blankets.”
The shooting left Sadie unable to walk, and she was suffering from both fecal and urinary incontinence. Derse Dauer considers herself a fixer and was sure she could fix this dog, so she asked the shelter if she could take Sadie to see a vet. After committing to pay for the dog’s medical care out of her own pocket, Derse Dauer loaded Sadie into her vehicle and headed off on her medical mission.
The first veterinarian she saw did X-rays and advised that Sadie did indeed have one bullet between her eyes and another bullet and shrapnel in her back.
“They suggested that I get a cart,” says Derse Dauer. She then called another vet, who wasn’t too optimistic about Sadie’s potential for recovery and suggested euthanasia.
Unwilling to give up on Sadie, Derse Dauer took her home and made her a little bed in the garage. She still wasn’t sure what she was going to do with this messy, incontinent dog, but she felt like she had to do something.
“The next day, I took her to a holistic vet near my house, and Dr. Jodie said, ‘let’s give her a chance,’ and that’s where Sadie’s rebirth really began,” Derse Dauer explains.
With the support of staff at the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, Derse Dauer adopted Sadie and began a treatment regimen that included acupuncture, aquapuncture, craniosacral, chiropractic, laser, electrical muscle-stimulation, swimming, and massage therapies. It was a time-consuming process, but Derse Dauer had a great relationship with the staff at Animal Doctor and knew they were committed to helping Sadie.
“I would drop Sadie off in the morning — say nine o’clock — and go to work, then pick her up at five. When they had time, they would work on her. She was in diapers at the time.”
Eventually, Sadie regained the muscle tone needed to control her bladder and bowels and no longer needed to use diapers. Derse Dauer was delighted to see the darling dog regain some independence.
“She knows when she has to urinate now, and she knows when she has to defecate — and those are two absolutely huge things. I am not having messes in the house at all,” says Derse Dauer.
Sadie has also made strides when it comes to her mobility. She can even cover short distances on her own thanks to many hours of physical therapy.
“She has customized braces for her legs and she gets exercise that way,” says Derse Dauer, who can often be seen pulling Sadie in her wagon as the two make their way to schools and seniors homes spreading Sadie’s message of resiliency and compassion as a Peer Ambassa-Dog for Generations Against Bullying.
“We have kids think about what they can do and not what they can’t do,” explains Derse Dauer, who co-wrote a children’s book called Sadie and the Superstars. The fictional story teaches kids about physical differences by introducing them to Sadie and a deaf dog, Dexter.
Sadie’s leap into the literary world will continue when her life story, Saving Sadie: How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World, will be published by Kensington/Citadel in the fall of 2017.
Derse Dauer is looking forward to seeing another book about Sadie hitting shelves, but in the meantime she and Sadie continue to make public appearances to all types of audiences. They are currently planning a trip to a correctional institute in Minnesota to talk to inmates about Sadie’s anti-bullying message.
Sadie may be spending more time behind bars than the unknown person who shot and abandoned her, but it’s for a wonderful cause: Her message could prevent another dog — or human — from meeting the same fate. A testament to the power of love, Sadie’s not just surviving, she’s thriving, all thanks to Derse Dauer. She was just trying to give away some blankets, but she ended up giving away her heart and giving Sadie a second chance.
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About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.