When it was still just Matt and me, we decided we wanted a dog. No real reason why, we just did. We went to the shelter on a Saturday, not expecting to find the one, but hopeful. We came armed with a copy of our lease stating it was OK to own a dog, cash and an open mind.
We walked up and down past all the cages. There were a lot of beautiful dogs, but none that really stuck out. Clipboard in hand, we were told to write down the names of three dogs we’d like to see in a private room.
“That one’s okay looking…Casey. Write that down.”
“What about that one? He looks nice, too. I’ll write him down.”
We got to the a third aisle and it looked like the cages were empty. As I turned to walk away, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned and saw this brown dog crumpled in the corner. Actively trying to make herself as small as possible. While no dog deserves to be in a shelter, this dog seriously didn’t deserve this life. She looked petrified.
I squatted down and started talking to her. Her papers said her name was Sweat Pea. Obviously someone didn’t know how to spell very well, but I could see where they came up with the probable name, Sweet Pea. She was sweet. Scared, but sweet.
Matt wasn’t near me, but I stayed there, squatted down trying to coax this sad, emaciated dog to come near me so I could get a better look at her. She started to sniff, but as soon as Matt came around the corner, she went back to her corner and hid her head under her oversized paws.
“OK, I got a volunteer. They can have Casey in a room for us to see.”
“Matt, I want to see Sweet Pea, first, if that’s OK.”
“The dog all alone on the other side. Please.”
When I told the volunteer what dog I wanted to see, she immediately puffed her chest up and said, “That dog can only be handled by females. She is afraid of men.”
“Well, if she’s going to be afraid of me, I don’t think it’d be fair to adopt her. Can we please see how she does with me in the room?” Matt asked.
After a long pause, the volunteer agreed. She wasn’t arrogant or against us adopting that dog, she was just very overprotective of her. She was a fragile dog. Broken.
We went into the room and waited for Sweet Pea to be brought in. I sat on a chair, Matt stood. Nervous. She was brought into the room and immediately tried to find a place to hide. Instinct told me to get down to her level, so I squatted down and let her sniff me. I checked out OK. She wouldn’t go near Matt. The volunteer started saying how it was a bad idea to put the poor dog through this, but as she said that, Matt said, “I just want to see if she can trust me,” and squatted down, hands on hips.
Not one second after he squatted down, did she stick her head right through his bent arm, and Matt looked at me and said, “We’ll take her.”
Sadie was adopted on a very sunny Saturday. She was only 10 months old and still hadn’t been fixed. So we couldn’t take her home until Monday after her surgery. I asked if it was OK to give her a bath preop, and they said it would be fine.
I showed up at the shelter the next day and was brought to the back with her and I gave her a good scrubbing. Turns out, that brown dog was in fact a cream dog with tan patches. But as I washed her, taking my time, looking over her entire body, did I see the life she had lived in those short 10 months. I could feel every rib. Her nose had readable newsprint on it. She had scabs up and down her legs and hips. She had belt marks. A piece of her ear had been slit. Her nose was pink and raw.
She was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. She had the face of a survivor.
There were rumors that Sadie was a part of dog fighting ring. The one volunteer who showed me where to have her washed up mentioned it. While that can’t be confirmed, because she was found wandering the streets of Wilkinsburg, she showed signs of being a submissive – the dog that gets used to pump up the other dogs prior to fighting.
I wouldn’t doubt it.
After her bath and towel down and some snuggles, I showed her back to her cage for the last time. As I walked away to head home, with an empty heart, she let out the saddest cries. Cries I never even knew a dog could make.
She knew I was her family and she didn’t want me to leave her.
We picked her up the next day and she has been spoiled ever since. Newspapers still make her hide and we couldn’t have them around for while. She is overprotective of her family and when someone she loves comes over, she whimpers with joy.
I read somewhere a quote about how when you adopt and animal, you save their lives. But in reality it’s them who save ours. Sadie wasn’t the easiest dog to own. It took her two years to get fully housebroken and I threatened to bring her back I don’t know how many times. (I totally wouldn’t have, but it’s a good threat to carry around.)
Sadie-Dog is a good dog. She’s affectionately known to my friends on Facebook as a photo bomber. She’s probably in 90% of the photos I post. The funny thing about that is, if I were to try to take her photo, she puts her head down in shame. So truly, every photo she bombs, she truly bombs it unknowing.
This is one of the first photos ever taken of her. She was 20 pounds underweight and healing from surgery and other wounds…
But she was at home, no doubt about it.
And put up with Matt’s antics.
Oh, Sadie Dog, you have been a lot of work, but in the 9 years you’ve been in our lives, you’ve made it better. Something brought us to the shelter that day to find you. Something told me you’d be my dog. That you’d listen to me, and when I cried, you’d put your head in my lap. You give the best hugs and you have the softest ears. You may have been broken in the beginning, but you’d never know that now.
The hardest part about owning a dog is knowing that their time with us is short. But not having her in my life wouldn’t have been a life I’d want to live. Simply put, she’s the best dog ever.