Wolfy, my yellow Labrador Retriever, had a large tumor in his abdomen. He was losing weight rapidly and had only months to live. The vet recommended I get another dog to help lift Wolfy’s spirits, and to motivate him to get up and go out for his walks.
I turned to my friend who worked at a rescue organization in Virginia. She was in the habit of sending me pictures of dogs that desperately needed homes, hoping I would adopt one. When I told her I was ready to adopt, she said she had the perfect dog for me. Then I received an influx of emails, each containing a different picture of Sadie, a beautiful black Labrador Retriever. My friend had remembered that I loved Labs.
Sadie was almost a year old. She had been abandoned along the roadside in Smithfield, Virginia, after giving birth to her puppies. She had a prolapsed uterus and was in bad shape when she was found. She was taken to a veterinarian clinic where she waited four days to have her surgery until the clinic received payment upfront. She was recovering nicely at the organization’s facility and was ready to go to her new home.
I met Sadie and her caseworker in Pennsylvania, and from the moment I saw her, I knew she was a special dog. But she had some issues. During the entire ride home, Sadie lay between the back and front seats, her chest resting on the console, and her head resting on my arm. She slept on top of me every night with her head on my shoulder. Whenever I left the house, she scratched at the door until I returned. There were wood chips everywhere, but I didn’t care. What Sadie was doing for Wolfy was nothing short of a miracle.
Wolfy’s health had improved almost immediately when Sadie joined our family. He was getting up, eager to go out for his walks, and was playing tug of war with Sadie. We were having a very warm winter that year, and Wolfy loved the water. So he decided to teach Sadie how to swim. I stood there and cried as I watched Wolfy chase Sadie across the open field at the dog park. Wolfy was acting like Wolfy again, and I was thrilled.
A month later, I took Sadie to the SPCA to be evaluated for their pet-therapy program. She passed easily, and we began making visits to nursing homes. Sadie was wonderful with the residents, and they loved her visits. There was one man in particular whom Sadie really liked. He always coaxed her up into his lap and stroked her fur while he told me his favorite stories about “the war.”
Then one day, Wolfy’s health took a dramatic turn for the worse. He wouldn’t eat, couldn’t get up, and was in tremendous pain. I took him and Sadie to the vet in hopes that she could do something to make Wolfy feel better, but he was too sick. It was time to let him go. We put Wolfy on a blanket in the middle of the floor. Sadie lay down opposite him, her nose touching his. When Wolfy took his last breath, Sadie cried. She then got up and went over to the corner, lay down, and watched him intently as I hugged and kissed him goodbye. Sadie and I stayed at my mother’s house for a few days. When we returned home, Sadie wouldn’t eat. Over the next month, I tried many different dog foods, but she refused to eat any of them. She did, however, eat my spaghetti dinner one night. So I made spaghetti often. She would also eat at my mother’s house. I was baffled by her behavior for quite some time, but then I saw the common denominator. Sadie would only eat if someone was there to eat with her. Sadie needed a friend.
I took Sadie to the Connecticut Humane Society, where they had three yellow Labs waiting to be adopted. My plan was to bring one of them home, but Sadie had a plan of her own. While waiting to meet the three Labs, Sadie sat down in front of a glass door and looked at a dog that was sleeping soundly. I peered inside and saw a white dog with black spots curled up inside a dog bed. I couldn’t tell what kind of dog it was, but the flyer on the door said it was a German Shorthaired Pointer. It wasn’t a yellow Lab, so I sat back down and didn’t give it another thought.
After meeting the three Labs, I was taken outside to the play area so Sadie could meet the dog I had picked out. They growled and snarled at each other. Well, that was the end of that. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet the German Shorthaired Pointer. But before the volunteer would bring her out to meet Sadie, he told me why the dog was in the waiting area and not with the other dogs. She was terrified of them. She was also afraid of loud noises. She had tried to jump out of her stall by climbing the walls, and when she couldn’t get out, she cowered in the corner, shaking and crying. She was taken to the office area where she became attached to one of the volunteers who took her home with him at night.
When she was brought out to the play area, I looked at her dumbfounded. Her ears were neither up nor down; they just stuck out. She wasn’t a big dog; she just had very long legs. And she had the biggest, bluest eyes I had ever seen. As strange as she looked, it all worked on her. She was adorable. And in less than three minutes, she and Sadie were playing as if they had been best buddies all their lives. It was a done deal.
I had no idea what I was about to get myself into, but I said to the volunteer, “Sign me up.”
I filled out all the paperwork and took our newest addition home. Within a few short months, Sadie had helped her new friend, Oreo, gain confidence and overcome her fears. And then Sadie overcame her own fear of being left alone. These two dogs are closer than any two dogs I have ever had. They are best friends who sleep together, eat together, and play constantly.
Sadie is truly a miracle worker, and I’m thrilled to see the happiness that results for her, too.