Happy Birthday, Sadie dog
But because you’re the dog, this is a bit belated. Sorry.
Sadie dog. We bought you on a Saturday. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, Matt and I had just moved in together and we decided why not add to the fun and get a dog.
When we got to the shelter (yes, the ARL) we went straight back to the kennels to find a million dogs jumping up on their cages to get our attention. We saw a few that caught our eye, but we wanted to see all the shelter had to offer before we grew attached. I went to the far end where it seemed as if there were no dogs, but alas, there you were. Tiny and crumpled in a corner. You looked like you didn’t have any more fight left in you. You were brown, underweight and sad.
I called Matt over and said, “Come here! Look at this poor dog.”
You were covered in dirt. You had small pieces of your ears missing from what looked like bites, belt marks on your back and scabs all up and down your legs. You could read newsprint on your nose and you were severely underweight. And you were brown. You’re not a brown, dog Sadie. I know you’re color blind, but let’s get real here.
A volunteer quickly came over and said, “Oh, that one. She’s afraid of men. Only women volunteers can handle her.”
We were immediately conflicted. We didn’t want to adopt a dog that would be afraid of Matt. We wanted you to be safe and happy. So we asked the volunteer to let us try and see what could happen.
We went into the room and waited for them to bring you in to us. I was nervous. Something about you tugged at my heart strings. I really wanted to take care of you.
When you came in, you looked scared. You timidly sniffed my hand and backed away from Matt. Matt got down on his haunches and put his hands on his hips, in a noncommittal way. Then, you did the most amazing thing. You put your head through Matt’s arms as if you were looking for a hug and that was it. We looked at each other and said, “We’ll take her.”
It took you years to figure out how not to use the house as a toilet. I don’t know how many times I said, “Take her back! Take her baaaaack!”
But then you’d look at me with those Sadie-dog eyes and I’d be over it.
When Claire was born, you changed. You figured you had to be good or you’d be gone. You haven’t had an accident since (other than that one time you had a stomach bug and couldn’t help it) and you became more calm.
Sure, when people come over you get excited, and it frustrates me, but you’re just a puppy at heart and I can’t fault you for that.
So, last week at some point, you turned 9. You’ve been in our lives longer than any of our kids and even our marriage. (8 years!) And I love you.
Happy birthday, Sadie dog. Thank you for seeing beyond your fears from past abuse and giving us a chance. We’re not perfect, but have never and will never hurt you and you’ve made our life better by being in it. You make the kids happy and even put up with their shenanigans.
So, with all the odds against you from the beginning: abused, neglected and named Sweat Pea (they totally meant Sweet Pea, but you know, spelling wasn’t so high on their list,) we’re so glad you’re our Sadie-Dog.
“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.”