When we got married in 2003, I had a cat and Keith had a dog. We were truly worried about how they would get along; how do you tell the love of your life to get rid of their beloved animal? I was not really a dog person. But on our first date, I drove from Cincinnati to his house with a pig ear in the car next to me. I wanted his dog to like me, and I thought a treat that gross would eliminate the dog’s desire to chew on me.
I fell in love with the dog before I fell in love with Keith! Rudy was a wonderful shepherd-husky mix that also fell in love with me. And my cat got along wonderfully with Rudy; we had no problems blending our family!
In December of 2003, not even a year after we were married, someone let Rudy out of our backyard. Twenty-four agonizing days later I received a phone call from the railroad company. They had found Rudy, but it was too late for her. Two incredibly nice railroad workers held her for me. She was found not two miles from our house.
Because we had had sub-zero temperatures for the entire month, along with 20 + inches of snow, Rudy looked fine. But we couldn’t bury her; I called some 1-800 number listed under pet cremations and discovered that the funeral home just down the road from us will cremate your pet. We had her cremated and mourned her loss.
In February of 2004, I was finally at the point I could talk about this without breaking down. I was telling the story to some fellow teachers over lunch one day and one of the paras asked me if we wanted a Black Lab. They had a four year old purebreed they had gotten as a puppy when their own kids were in early elementary school. Now, four years later, they were traveling everywhere for sports and gymnastics and the dog was neglected.
Keith and I discussed it and decided to go meet her that Saturday. The meeting went well, so we took Sadie home with us for the weekend as a trial run. She rode home with us and then promptly pooped in our bedroom. After that, she was happy as a clam. Because the trial weekend worked so well, she stayed with us.
We renamed her Sadie Grace (from Sadie Rose) and she quickly became the most spoiled dog on planet Earth. She slept in our bed. We discovered she had severe allergies and we bought expensive organic food. We brushed her. We let her lay on the couch. We fed her non-bread people food.
In short, we treated her like a child. I wonder if non-infertile couples treat their pets as children. I mean, we never dressed her in clothes or anything like that, but we did love her without reservation. She was, in the midst of our infertililty struggle, the one that dried my tears, snuggled in bed with me, loved me unconditionally, and soothed the ache in my heart.
She soothed the ache that Rudy’s death had left, and she soothed the ache I had to mother.
She was the best dog that I, a non-dog person, could have ever had.
Ten days ago Sadie quit eating.
Ten days ago Sadie quit being able to stand without assistance.
Ten days ago Sadie decided that sleeping in our miniscule (and only) bathroom was were she wanted to be.
We monitered her. She only went outside when Keith assisted her or when I could entice her out with a slice or two of american cheese.
Two days ago she began to cry if she was anywhere other than our bathroom.
She was sick.
Yesterday Keith and I made the painful decision to end Sadie’s suffering. Our vet said that maybe some pills would help and maybe she had a bulging disc in her back. But I know better. Something was deeply wrong with my baby dog. You could look into her eyes and see how much pain she was in – how she desperately wanted us to fix it.
You may find this silly, but I really thought Wednesday night was going to be it and I layed with Sadie in our bathroom and prayed over her. I felt peace about her dying. I felt peace about needing to put her to sleep.
I have cried off and on for the past two days. As Keith and I took Sadie out to the car yesterday, we told Nathanael to say good bye, and he said, “Good bye Doggie.” He called her doggie, even though he calls our other dog, Lucy, “Lou- Lou.”
Our cat and Lucy aren’t searching for Sadie, which our vet said is a sign they knew she was sick.
I, however, am searching for her. She’s not in the bathroom. She didn’t lay down with me today for our every-Sunday-afternoon nap together. She wasn’t here to clean up the dropped chicken from Nathanael’s dinner.
I miss her.
She was the best doggie ever.
Rest in peace, Sadie Grace. You are deeply loved and missed.