She is my bridge from a former life to now. A physical, spiritual, heavenly dog smelling bridge.
Sadie brought me light when everything I knew fell away.
After she came to live with us, I took her everywhere with me in my brand new-to-me Maxima. She even went to the dank and mouse-riddled music studio with me when I was singing in DC. She would perch herself high on the nasty couches, disgusted with such deplorable surroundings. One cold winter night we had a gig and I couldn't bear to leave those gorgeous brown eyes (with white eyelashes) at home so I took her with me. Obviously, my plan backfired when the manager balked at our "mascot" entering his establishment so I had to leave her in the car. Between sets I would run out to the back of the bar, where I illegally parked, just to blast the heat for five minutes so she wouldn't freeze.
Sadie had a lot of Marley in her. She was the uncratable dog. Still is. Our first attempt at crating her, she Houdini'd her way out. We knew she was trouble when we saw her peering out the window looking for us while standing on our kitchen table (She still waits for us on our kitchen table unless I put exactly four chairs on before leaving the house.) In that same townhouse, she got herself stuck in my bathroom and managed to rip up door jams, 40 ft of carpeting, heavy sliding glass door curtains, wooden/plastic/metal door handles, kitchen curtains, and most anything standing in her way between her and daylight.
Sadie quickly became my bridge to a new busy life with her as the starring role.
But she didn't start out that way.
Back in early 2003, when we adopted her, I didn't want a dog; my new husband did. I loved dogs more than people but just wasn't ready for one. I was still grieving some heavy duty losses.
Within the course of ten months, I had gotten married, lost my grandfather, lost my grandmother, quit my teaching job, sold my childhood home, and rocked my brains out in a rocking chair while my husband wondered how the F to fix his new broken wife.
From about Kindergarten on, my grandparents were parents to me every bit as my mom was. As was my brother. As was my uncle. Those years, the really really good years, we all lived under one happy roof. Life was so sweet I can still taste it (yellow cake batter and Ragu spaghetti sauce), hear it (lawn mowers, crickets, the crunch of white pebbles in our driveway), and see it clearly (billowy trees, Persian rug, Christmastime), decades later.
Andy and I were married in August, 2002 and too quickly for words, I had to say goodbye to my grandfather just a few short weeks later in October, 2002. My grandfather was the epitome of practicality and had been preparing for his death for ages. I can remember him setting out his burial uniform so often it became a morbid joke between us.
"You know I'm going to switch it to a sailor uniform, last minute," I teased the retired Army Brigadier General.
"You wouldn't," he feigned disgust to play along. He always played along.
Then, as sometimes happens with couples, my grandmother unexpectedly passed away soon after he did. Just a piddly five months later. My heart had cracks where gaping holes lived.
"C'mon, let's just go look," encouraged Andy. "We don't have to buy one today, let's just go take a look."
"Oh, Honey, that'll never work. You know we will come back with one. Or seven."
For weeks, I was a sad buoy bobbing in and out of hours; lost without a compass. My world as I knew it had tilted upside down. The people who had been absolute and steady anchors for my entire life had disappeared in a blink. Who I had been seemed to follow suit as well.
"C'mon, let's just go look," Andy tried one last time.
"Fine," I conceded, "But we are only looking at black boy labs. Only looking."
By the time we arrived at PetCo's Lab Adoption, most of the dogs were outside. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a breeze that seemed to add the perfect excitement for meeting new friends.
We immediately fell in love with a big yellow lab named Banner. Banner was a tank and a sloppy kisser, our kinda guy. One major problem. Banner and Radar (my brother's dog with whom we resided) had a serious beef with each other. Teeth and snarls ensued so we reluctantly made peace with leaving him for another family.
"You sure you want to let her go?" we asked the nice gentleman holding Sadie's leash.
He responded with his truth that he and his wife gave it their best but this sweet young thing had boundless energy and required more exercise than they had anticipated. She would not be a great boating dog for many years to come. He said he they did not want to but felt they had to let her go.
Judging by the mournful rest in his eyes, I did not believe him.
"C'mon, Honey," I whispered to Andy. "This guy loves this dog. He will take her back home, look how attached he is. Plus, she's afraid of us."
Only, Andy didn't hear me. He was too busy swooning over Sadie. This little sleek thang curled right into his lap and speckled him with many tentative kisses.
Well he is the one who wanted a dog in the first place. Here ya go, Honey. Here's your new dog cause she's scared shitless of me.
Within a few minutes, my husband's heart was adrift with new love and I could tell Banner and all other dogs at that event could not compete.
The black male lab I had my sights on was quickly turning into a skinny little bleached blonde girl dog. She even had girlie paws.
The adoption was rough Although Sadie really liked Andy, she was scared silly of me. I almost lost inside the store as she pulled like an ox to get back to her original owner. It broke my heart that we were separating these two. So much so, I nearly pulled the plug entirely right before signing the papers.
(Only I couldn't find Andy to tell him we shouldn't steal this guy's dog. Andy was too busy yanking dog supplies from the shelves like a lovelorn optimist.)
Sadie and her owner's goodbye was so heartbreaking it makes me well up ten years later. If I had gotten my way that afternoon, Sadie would not have driven home with us in our truck, staring out the back for her real daddy. Her daddy would've had to convince another person to take her because the love in his eyes told us the last thing he really wanted to do was let her go.
The blessing has been that we keep in touch. Sadie's first daddy and I have become friends throughout the years and he sends us a wonderful letter on the anniversary of her adoption. I send him pictures and videos in response to his letters and he even reads this blog to keep up with Sadie. (I owe you a bunch, G, coming soon.)
Maybe she is his bridge, too.
Happy Birthday, Sadie Girl. You will always be the Queen of our hearts. Forever and ever.
Through the Years:
Christmas 2007, PA Home: Just the Four of Us
Christmas 2008, PA Home: Make That Five
Christmas 2009, At the new VA home
October 2010 - Day of Andy's Deployment to Bahrain
Christmas 2010 - Mommy's Little Helper While Daddy was Gone
Horrible Solo Winter of 2010: Mommy's Peace & Sanity
Christmas 2011: Daddy's Home!
My Sadie, still rocking the beautiful eyelashes at eleven years young.