17 years ago, I had a wonderful dog, named Buddy. Buddy was a Keeshond, my best companion and the greatest animal I had ever owned. He was 11 years old and his health was failing. Once a month or so, he’d have terrific seizures that would scare the life out of me and him; but the rest of the time, he was by my side. I loved that dog.
One day in late July, Ellen and I were riding bikes around my neighborhood. I had a regular path I rode with a dead-end at the halfway point. That’s where we stopped for water that horribly hot summer day. Crawling out of the tall dead grass, like a soldier on recon, came a little yellow dog. It had a grayed muzzle and its skin hung on it like curtains. It was thirsty. It was a Chihuahua. We gave it some water and then took it down the road to where the main street intersected. A car stopped and asked if we were taking the dog. I asked if it belonged to someone and they said no, it had been living there for a couple of weeks. Some sick son-of-a-bitch had left an 8 pound dog to fend for itself in the worst part of a South Texas summer on a dead-end street. This dog, obviously an old dog, was starving and dehydrated. There’s a special level of hell for people like that.
We obviously couldn’t leave it there so I scooped it up to bring it home. I was paying more attention to the dog than the road and Ouch! My bike, the dog and I came crashing down. I’m sure the dog was thinking “Please. Just leave me here. I’ll take my chances on the street.” But Ellen came to our rescue and was able to get the dog to my home without any further excitement, tho’ I hummed the Wicked Witch theme the whole way and kept saying “and your little dog, too!”
I took her to the vet the next day to be certain she didn’t have any illness that could make my Buddy dog sick(er.) I named her Sadie, because she was an old dog. I asked the vet to try to determine her age. He said she was 4 months old! Living in the extreme conditions of the dead-end street had greyed her muzzle and starved off all of her baby-fat. The vet said “take her home, feed her and you’ll have a puppy in no time.” No! I didn’t want a Chihuahua!
The only Chihuahuas I had ever known belonged to a neighbor. They were snappy little yappy dogs. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would have such a pointless useless thing. And now I did.
Two months later, Buddy had his last seizure ever. At the same time, Sadie completely recovered from her starvation and I had a Chihuahua puppy living in my home.
Sadie was nothing like my neighbors’ dogs. She didn’t nip or yip. She was the most lovable little clown, the biggest heart in the smallest body and the best spokesdog for Chihuahuas the world over. People who would never have ever considered even touching a Chihuahua became baby-talking fools when Sadie smiled at them.
Sadie was a snuggler. If she could leap into the chair or bed where there was a warm body, she leapt and she snuggled. Shamelessly. When I came home from the hospital after having surgery, she threw herself, with all her might, four feet into the air to get onto the bed that was out of her reach and specifically off limits so that she could snuggle me back into health. Though she be little, she was fierce.
Karl the Rottweiler learned this the hard way when he came to live with us for a while. Though he was 10 times her weight, Sadie intimidated that poor dog and wouldn’t allow him out from under the bed -- ever. For both of theirs’ sake, we found a new home for Karl.
In recent years, Sadie’s hearing failed and she lost her eyesight. She became arthritic and though she could speed up the stairs like a little yellow flash, downstairs was hard for her do. Still, blind, deaf and stiff, she kept up with Dingo and the cats. She followed me everywhere I went and she worshipped Tim.
Two weeks ago, a cough that she’d had for a bit became bad. She would cough for hours on end and be exhausted when the coughing finally stopped. We took her to the vet who prescribed antibiotics, cough medicine and a couple of drugs for congestive heart problems. Maybe it was the drugs or maybe it was just her time, but she had 2 massive seizures and lost all of her strength. We stopped giving her the drugs and waited for her system to clear but the Sadie we knew never came back. Yesterday, I held her for 16 hours while she spasm-ed, seized and twitched all day long. I was going to take her to the vet to put an end to her suffering but my good little girl fiercely decided to call her own shots. She died this morning after a terrible night.
I never wanted a Chihuahua. I thought they were too little and silly. I didn’t know they could make such a big impression and could leave such a really big mark.
Goodbye, Sadie. No dog of any size will ever fill the hole you’ve left behind.