Sadie, Sadie, Sadie
Shortly after the New Year of 2013 began, our beloved pet, Sadie, passed away. We’re not sure what she died from. She was getting on in years and in the last year, especially. she was slowing down and acting her 11 years (77 human years) of age. A decade before this, we had gotten her from the local human society because my son so badly wanted a dog. As a youngster, I had had a dog so it was apparent to me that a boy needed his dog. She was all dog and taught me a lot about unconditional love.
I was in dialysis when I got a call from my son that Sadie was having trouble. She was having diarrhea and seemed to be in pain. At that moment, it appeared she was having trouble with her left rear leg because she was favoring it. Then, it became her left side. She would attempt to walk but stop in obvious pain. She was moaning softly. Over a few minutes, it got worse. He condition deteriorated and I could hear her literally yipping painfully in the background as he described what what going on. Both my boys were upset and pleading with me about what to do. I was as helpless as they were.
We searched desperately for some diagnosis that might help us care for her pain and suffering. Sadie was experiencing what I took for a stroke or a some cerebral event. She would attempt to walk but her back legs wouldn’t operate and she would collapse in a heap. At first, she pressed against the fence in the back yard, wailing in pain. Eventually, my son cradled her in his arms and she pressed her head deeply into his chest. As it worsened, she began to have seizures and bit her tongue causing blood to flow from her mouth.
The boys were in shock. They called a vet who responded that he couldn’t send anyone until after 5pm. It was now shortly after noon. The boys knew Sadie could never last that long in her condition and they couldn’t allow her to suffer for several hours without some help. Something had to be done immediately. I broke away from the call and contacted a friend of mine who had a few dogs of her own. I asked her to go to the house and help the boys. She immediately responded by calling the boys. I don’t know what transpired over the next hour or so as Gail took command. I waited as patiently as I could. Tears clouded my eyes.
As Gail intervened and I lay there helpless, I considered terminating my dialysis treatment and joining them. It was a parent’s worse nightmare to listen as their children suffered and to not be able to respond to comfort them and rescue them from this terrible situation. I tried to remain strong but with every phone call, my strength was sapped. I wept openly as I sat tethered to my treatment chair with one arm holding the phone and other restricted by the dialysis needles and tubes. It was almost more than I could bear. I knew I had to command what I could of the situation but I was so helpless to do much. My boys had to take control of this with only my voice on the phone to assist and advise them.
While I was bound to the machine, my friend Gail was able help. She called her veterinarian and got them into her vet immediately. The boys mustered all their resolve and got Sadie into the car. She sensed they were helping her and didn’t fight them but she wailed in pain and continued to have seizures. The drive to the vet was accompanied by her screaming and wailing that only worsened with each mile. As her condition deteriorated, she began vomiting. Later my son would dauntlessly clean up as he usually did in such events. He has an underlying strength that amazingly comes into play at the most challenging moments.
Finally they got her to the office and she was immediately taken into the exam room. The doctor started her on an intravenous Valium drip but it had little effect on her. She continued to have seizures and vomit. The boys and Gail waited anxiously in the lobby where Sadie’s screaming could be heard from behind the closed doors and down the long hall.
As Sadie lay on the exam table, phone calls went back and forth. I felt like I was intruding as I called first one and then another when they didn’t answer. I understood they were occupied with helping Sadie but I was desperate for some news about her condition and some explanation for what was going on. I wanted to understand why she was going through this. For a dog who never was sick, this was all so sudden and traumatic.
In the one fateful phone conversation, my oldest son and I discussed the situation and Sadie’s lack of response to the doctor’s efforts. She was mad with pain and neurological damage. The doctor said he was surprised she hadn’t bitten anyone. Not surprisingly, she had snapped but not bitten. She was that kind of dog. She knew they were trying to help her.
Finally, we determined that she needed final relief from her pain and suffering. As it neared three o’clock, the doctor injected her with the drugs that would offer her that succor and allow her to break the pain-filled physical bonds. As I was being taken from the constraints of dialysis, Sadie was leaving this realm. As her pain subsided, I felt a peace come over me. We would miss her terribly. While my older son cradled her head for the last time, my younger son placed his head on her chest as her heart gradually faded and stopped.
That morning before all these terrible vents, my day had started typically. I got out of bed and was met at my bedroom door by Sadie and her sister, Ruby. I let them out the back door and watched as Sadie instantly dashed in barking pursuit of a squirrel up a tree in the back yard. I remember thinking that, in spite of her advancing years, she could find such energy to chase a squirrel. It was my last memory of her and I’m glad it was framed in that moment; her youthful, energetic dash from the back door toward the big tree in the back yard. We’ll plant a tree in her honor and put her ashes around its roots to assure she has many more squirrel-chasing days ahead of her.