Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Never Had To Walk Alone

I wrote this post a long time ago and never published it.  I reread it last night while I watched our dog, Sadie, try to figure out what to do with herself.  She was in pain and my heart was breaking.  Today we said goodbye to her after over 14 years.  Her body just gave up.  She was a good dog and she loved all 9 of her lives!  She was my constant companion and sometimes a pain in my ass but I never had to walk alone!  We walked about 6,000 miles (this is my best estimate) together and I admit, I'm going to miss her!

Just chillin' to the music
Instead of changing everything to the past tense I'm leaving it as written.
Here's to you girl....

I never knew having a relationship with a dog would be so complicated.  Let me start by saying I was a reluctant dog owner. Yes, we have owned one and sometimes two dogs for over twenty years!  When I say it that way I am amazed I lasted this long.  I am not your usual  "I love my dog... can't imagine life without it... let me spoil it.... aren't dogs the best?" dog owner.  Well, maybe I am... a little.   I enjoyed my dog most of the time and resented her and found her to be a major pain others.  Am I alone here?  In spite of my occasional resentment, I learned a few things from being a dog owner and observing her through the years.

Routine is a good thing
In retrospect we should have named her Pavlov.  She could be the poster dog for Pavlov's dog.  There is comfort in having a routine.  Sadie has always been the ultimate creature of habit.  Open the back door, she springs up and runs out.  She has her "go to" spots in our yards and goes to them in the same order every single time.  Her life is mostly a series of predictable actions and reactions.  I think this makes her happy.  She even knows when we vere off the usual walking route and tries to lead me "her" way.

Seize the Moment
Sadie is always up for anything...except a bath.  She can be sound asleep and if I get the leash and rudely awaken her from her slumber she is up and ready in a second.  She doesn't have to put her makeup on, brush her hair, check her calendar or worry about whether it will be too hot or too cold, she is ready!

Sadie probably knows there are times I resent her.  She probably also knows my heart is heavy every time we have to leave her at the kennel or with a friend when we travel.  I hate disrupting her idyllic life.  In spite of having been left behind many times, she always welcomes us home with her tail wagging and love in her eyes.
She is my fierce protector in Nova Scotia, just ask anyone up there with a large dog.  Any time a large dog comes near me, Sadie pounces to my aid with growls and barks at the intruding dog.  She is especially alert when TJ is out of town.  I think she takes a deep sigh of relief when he gets home. She is off duty and can finally relax.

Sadie in her happy place!
Any being who can wear a leg cast for 3 months and come out the other side with as much life as Sadie, has a lot of patience.  She never gave up, much to my dismay.  Ok, that's the reluctant dog owner in me coming out.
Hunting dogs naturally have patience.  Waiting on point until the clueless hunter finally comes to see what treasure the dog has found takes a lot of patience.  Sadie will stand at point watching a rabbit in the yard for a long time.  Every muscle in her body is quivering but she waits for just the right moment to pounce, unsuccessfully on the rabbit.  Patience.

I can do no wrong in Sadie's eyes.  Those are probably the only eyes in the world that I can do no wrong!  She has unwavering faith that every morning I will let her out, feed her and take her for a walk.  She knows that her needs will be taken care of every day and so far they have been which makes her trust us.  Sometimes I think she wonders about me when I take her to the vet.  She looks at me with those teary eyes as if to say, "What did I do?  Why are you brining me here?!".

Grace Through Pain
Sadie forged on with her life when all of us thought it was over.  She learned to eat, drink, walk, use the bathroom and sleep while wearing a cast on her leg for 3 months.  She still tried to run to the back door when we opened it so she could stalk squirrels and rabbits.  I know dogs can't really complain, but to see her never give up and never really complain was amazing.  Grace through pain.

Even at the end, when I knew she was hurting, she looked at me with those brown eyes as if to beg,
" Make it better."  A more helpless feeling I have never known.  I hope she is running like the wind on the great sandbars in the sky.  Walking without a dog on a leash will take some getting used to and be a daily reminder that she is gone.


Carol said...

Such a poignant chronicle, Lisa. You and I are kindred spirits when it comes to dogs (and boat rides!), and I would have been very sad to hear of Sadie's passing, but I sobbed at the news as it was presented with your honest, insightful and caring words. It is a beautiful and perfect tribute to Sadie. Very well done.

Tanis Lavallee said...

Say hi to Tessa and Squale for us Sadie!

Since having the babies, I've been leaning more heavily towards the "my dog is a nuisance and I resent her for needing me" side of things, but this has been a great reminder to return the favour and show Stella a bit more of the love, patience and loyalty that she always shows me.

Holly Mabee said...

So sad that she is gone. Great that she had a wonderful life with a wonderful family. Your description of your life with her is beautiful.

Patrice Graham said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your tribute was wonderful though, and nice that you left it in the present text. I know you will miss her, but just remember all those special times together.

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