Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remembering Sadie

When a friend phoned to tell me that her little dog was very ill and the vet had suggested she have her put down before the suffering gets any worse, I offered my sympathies and told her she shouldn’t wait too long or she’d surely regret it, as I once did.

Memories of Sadie came flooding back.

She was already six years old when we brought her home. I had just lost a Yorkie I loved and was certain I’d die if I didn’t have another right away! The breeder we always dealt with didn’t have any puppies but told me that she would have before long and I could get one as soon as they were ready to leave their mother. I didn’t want to wait that long, but agreed to do it since there seemed to be no alternative.

However, I had seen Sadie at the breeder’s house and fell in love with her cute actions. She seemed to be showing off for us. Mrs. Davis saw this and, after thinking it over for a day or two, called and asked if I’d like to take Sadie. I was thrilled!

From the time we walked in the front door with her, Sadie was “at home.” We put her food and water dishes down and she claimed them right away. She had been at the Davis home for six years, but it seemed she never looked back. We accepted her that easily, too. She was a member of the family from day one!

Sadie was six pounds of cute, bouncy, yappy Yorkie! And it was obvious she thought she ruled the house – her attitude conveying that to get into our house, you had to get by her first. And she definitely would not tolerate anyone who wore a hat or gloves. The yaps became more vicious sounding toward those who dared.

Since I fed her, brushed her and did most everything for her, she soon chose me as her “person.” Every time I sat down, she was there almost before I was, waiting until I got comfortable and then cuddling just as close as she possibly could. We watched TV together, took naps together and she wore her little body out following me all over the house on a busy day. When I had to leave the house without her, I was told that she very unhappily watched out the window the whole time I was gone – sometimes for hours.

We had eleven happy years with Sadie. During that time, my daughter got married and moved to Michigan – eight hours away. My husband and I took a trip to visit them about twice a year and, of course, Sadie came along. We’d put a pillow between us in the front seat and she’d curl up on it and sleep a good part of the way – at least until we stopped at Rax for a roast beef sandwich.

She seemed to know the minute we pulled into the parking lot. She’d sit up, look out the window and whine excitedly while my husband went inside and came back with the good smelling food. Oh, she just couldn’t wait for hers! I couldn’t get it unwrapped fast enough to suit her. Then she’d eat the yummy roast beef as fast as she could and as much of it as her little tummy would hold. Sometimes I feared she’d overdo and get sick... but she never did. When she’d finally stop eating, I’d give her a drink of water and take her for a short walk on her leash.

Once all that business was taken care of, we’d be on our way again. Sadie would settle down once more on her pillow and sleep the rest of the way.

We made many trips during the time our daughter lived away and my husband and I were getting a little tired of roast beef so, on one trip, we stopped for hamburgers. That didn’t work! When my husband came back to the car with burgers, Sadie sniffed the air, circled around a couple of times on her pillow and plopped down. She seemed to be saying, “No thank you!” I begged and pleaded with her, putting the warm burger right under her nose, but she just turned away and didn’t eat a bite... nor would she take a drink of water. That was the last time we tried that.

I’d like to say we lived happily ever after with Sadie, but that wouldn’t be true or realistic. Strange things started to happen when she was around fifteen. We’d hear a thump-thump-thump and when we'd investigate, we'd find that Sadie had fallen down the stairs. After seeing that she was okay, we’d laugh and accuse her of getting clumsy in her old age. Then one morning, she and I were sleeping in and I heard a thud and a small yelp. Checking to see what it was, I found that Sadie had fallen off the bed. She wasn’t hurt but a little dazed, I think.

After that happened a few more times, Sadie decided to sleep on the floor beside the bed. I eventually gave her a special bed of her own at the foot of ours.

A visit to the veterinarian one fall afternoon, told us what the problem was. She had cataracts that were so advanced that the doctor thought, considering her age, it would be dangerous to operate. Sadie was almost blind. But she adapted just as blind people do. We soon noticed that she took a certain route from the family room to her food and water dishes in the kitchen. It was always the same. She had it figured out perfectly. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought she was counting her steps.

I took Sadie almost everywhere I went. If I went to the grocery store, I’d leave the car running so the air conditioning would stay on for her. I’m not sure, with the car running, that she ever realized I was gone. Our family couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

She lived quite a while, but her overall health slowly deteriorated. Another trip to the Vet, at seventeen years old, revealed that she had liver disease. The doctor told me in his most serious voice. “You have a decision to make.” I said, “Oh no! How long does she have?” He said, “I wouldn’t wait too long. When the time comes, it will be painful.”

I cried all the way home. But, unfortunately, I did wait too long. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her, and making the decision to put her down was out of the question! So, as a result of my selfishness, late one night, Sadie curled up on my lap – a place she loved to be – and started whining... intermittently at first, but it soon became steadily worse until she sounded like a screaming woman! It was a horrible thing to watch! I finally called the emergency animal hospital and was told to bring her right away. I did, but she went into convulsions on the way and died on my lap. I’ll never get over it. I called myself stupid and worse for months!

I don't plan to get another dog. Giving them up is too painful. I can’t go through it again! However, I did adopt a beautiful cat that was destined for euthanasia. But I promise, when Liza's time comes, I will do whatever is necessary to spare her the misery that my sweet little Sadie had to endure because of my selfishness.

It's the humane thing to do.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Power of Words

~ Appeared in the Charleston Gazette ~ Sunday, September 2, 2012~

Words are powerful.

We must choose them carefully and think before speaking or writing them. Our words have the power to create peace or discord, inspiration or apathy, hope or despair. Therefore, we must be sure we select the ones that will create harmony and good will instead of dissension and malice.

Thoughtless comments that hurt someone else can make us feel terrible!

It was two years after my father died before my mother could say the words, “He died.” She kept saying, “He went away.” At first, I tried to be kind and ignore it, but then one day, I bluntly said, “Mother, Daddy didn’t go away. He died!”

I’ll never forget the hurt look on my mother’s sweet face. After many years, I still fight tears when that picture creeps into my mind. Sometimes, what we think is the right thing turns out to be “risky” at best. I think it hurt me more than it did her. However, she never said, “He went away,” again. Perhaps it was a good thing – forcing her to face reality. Or maybe it was cruel. I’ll never be quite sure.

That’s the bad thing about words. Once spoken, they can never be retrieved. How nice it would be if one could inhale them back to where they originated and erase them so they’d never be heard. But mistakes are a natural part of learning to live in this world—just as falling down is a natural part of learning to walk.

When I make a serious mistake, I sometimes find it hard to forgive myself for what I’ve said or done. Yet, I know I cannot make amends if I remain in a cycle of self-blame or criticism. So I must take responsibility for my actions and do my best to resolve the situation. After a heartfelt apology and a change in my behavior, I trust God to guide me. By His grace, I will be able to forgive myself - and perhaps, in time, the person I hurt will forgive me, too.

The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Prov. 18:21)

Words contain what you believe. If you are full of fear, your words will reflect that. If you are full of faith, your words will be full of conviction. You can choose to speak life changing Bible verses over your life or speak what you hear the world speak: gloom, doom and despair.

Understanding the power of words is essential to living a victorious Christian life. The key is to be consistent and persistent. This isn't something you try; it's a way of life.

Words are so important, that we are going to have to give an account of what we say when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt.12:36-37)