So I should know by now that my old dog Sadie is practically a mind reader. She is more sensitive to human emotion than most mental health professionals could ever hope to be.
I should know that by now, right?
I mean, ever since she came to us, some 7 years ago, Sadie has been reacting to my slightest emotional expression. If I cry over a sad movie, she lowers her head and stars to shiver, gazing up at me with her big sorrowful eyes. If one of us raises our voice to yell at a bad move by one of the Red Sox, she slinks downstairs to hide behind the furnace.
When we laugh, she wags her tail and pants like a puppy.
When I’m scared or worried, she comes to sit beside me, leaning her solid body against me to give what can only be described as a doggy hug.
So when Sadie fell ill with a mystery disease, and began to experience everything from diarrhea to excess thirst to a caved in skull, we thought it was the beginning of the end.
We started to talk softly around her. There was a lot of, “Oh, poor old girl! Poor baby. Oh, my poor baby girl.” We started to think that we should give her extra love, extra treats, extra hugs and brushes and walks.
Over the past three weeks, our fluffy old girl began to really slow down. She was sleeping most of the day away. She stopped wagging her tail and spent hour after hour hiding behind the couch.
Her stomach got worse, her symptoms increased. We talked about euthanasia. We consulted with the vet. We tried to spend quality time with our beautiful old girl.
She kept getting weaker. She no longer stepped out onto our deck as we arrived home, singing and jumping around in her joy at seeing us again.
And last Friday we debated whether or not we should go away for the weekend with our friends. They had invited us to spend three days out on Martha’s Vineyard in their new boat. I really, really, really wanted to go, but I felt guilty. What if the old girl gave up the ghost while we were away? Paul and I talked it over, then decided that it would be OK to leave the dogs in the tender care of our youngest son, Tim. We knew he’d be careful and would appreciate Sadie’s fragile state.
But we forgot that Tim is only 23! He isn’t thinking “end of life care”. He apparently came in the door full of life and youthful energy. He brought a friend. They cooked, they went into the hot tub, they listened to music. I’m sure they laughed a lot and hung out with friends and drank beer.
They gave Sadie her medicine, but I guess they forgot to pity her or sniffle over her. I don’t think they ever remembered to say, “Oh, you poor old girl…..”
So, yep, you guessed it.
As we drove down the driveway after our weekend away, both dogs raced out onto the deck, both barking and singing and howling with pleasure. Sadie danced around, her tail going a mile a minute, her big furry face filled with a happy doggy smile.
She’s been full of energy ever since.
I should have figured. As long as I keep thinking of her as a spry old broad, she’ll keep acting like one.
Way to go, Tim! Way to go, Miss Sadie!