There’s no thunder in Heaven


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Sadie checking her email one morning.

Miss Sadie. Quiet Wolf. Sadie Pants. Sadie Pantalones.

My Sadie Faced Child.

Sadie McGrady.

Mrs. McGillicudy.

Saideleh.

She had so many names, it’s a wonder she ever came when I called her! But she was a good dog. She was a very good dog.

Yesterday Miss Sadie spent all day sleeping in the sun on our front walk. We checked now and again to be sure that she was still breathing.

When she came in late in the day, she ate her supper and let us pet her, but she kept pacing in circles. Around and around, searching for a peaceful place, finding none.

She tottered, leaned against the wall, panted. Lay down, got up to circle again.

My nephew Jim was here with us. He talked to her, patted her big warm head, watched her stumble into the walls.

He told me what I knew, but wasn’t ready to hear.

Sadie needed her rest. She was suffering.

“But her tail is wagging,” I said. “She ate her food.”

He repeated that she was also pacing, stumbling, panting. I knew he was right. I thanked him as the tears poured down my face.

It was a long and difficult night. We knew that we’d be saying goodbye to her this morning. We fell asleep with her at the foot of our bed, one last time.

“Maybe she’ll have more energy tomorrow,” I thought.

But it was a long and restless night. She paced, and circled and tried to put her face into the corner of the room. She dug at the door of our closet, the way she used to do during thunderstorms.

I got up three or four times, gave her medicine, stroked her thick, glossy fur. She was trembling from head to toe.

Something was coming for her, and she was afraid, not knowing what it was or where it was hiding.

We held her, we talked to her.

When morning came, she wanted to go back outside, to lie on her step. Paul let her go.

After a while, he took the dogs for a short walk.  Sadie was stumbling and limping, but holding her mouth open in joy as she smiled into the cool fall sunshine.

Then into the car we went.

We were holding her when she died. Her head was in its comfort seeking spot, leaning against my chest. Both Paul and I were stroking her, telling her how much we loved her, thanking her for so many great years.

She took one breath, then simply folded gracefully to the floor, stretched out in the sunshine coming through the window. Quiet and resting at last.

Bye, sweet Sadie McGrady.

You were the doggie of my dreams. You walked through the woods. You helped me dig in the garden. You chased squirrels and deer with complete abandon.

You slept on my side of the bed, and leaned against my pillow when one of was sad or scared.

I watched you leap over stone walls when you were an old lady. You inspired me to keep loving life as long as I draw breath!

I shouldn’t be surprised that you went to your rest with a full belly and a wagging tail.

After knowing and loving you, I hope to do the very same thing.

Good night, honey. See you when I cross that bridge myself.

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25 thoughts on “There’s no thunder in Heaven

  1. So so sorry. I know how hard this is for you. Looks like our lives are running parallel right now. Frida was much the same–had a really good last week and stayed active up until a couple of hours of her passing. We are both lucky that we were there when it happened. Thank you for sharing Sadie with us. xoox

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      • Every night when I go to bed, it seems as though I should leave the hall light on for her, or it seems like I should be giving her her meds. The first night after she died, I heard her heavy breathing beside my bed for about 30 seconds, and when she died, the first person I thought of calling was my friend Joe who died three years ago or more. He was with me when she “found us” as a puppy. So, I agree, they are always with us. I think life takes things away from us so we can find new things. We need to keep looking for them. xo

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  2. I know how awful and empty you are feeling. Take it slow and be kind to yourself (lots of human treats, both solid and liquid!). Sadie had a long and perfect life, filled with adventure and joy and love, and she wouldn’t want you to be sad. And when the time came, she had a good death. She leaves you with her special memories and stories, and she is feeling like a puppy, romping at the Rainbow Bridge. She will watch over you until you are reunited (not anytime soon, I hope!). She will send you a sign that she is okay.
    I’m making a donation in her memory to Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue, the group I work with, and another lab will leave a horrible shelter with a volunteer, on his/her way to a foster and then a forever home, instead of leaving with the garbage truck. So Sadie is making something good happen 3,000 miles away!
    Sending love and prayers,
    Janis

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    • Oh, Janis, I love that so much! Thank you, thank you! You just made it so much easier. Its so strange to know that we did the right thing, we know that she needed peace. Still, wow, so much pain here without her. Tucker and Paul and I are heading off for a walk in the woods on this glorious fall day. We’ll talk about our girl, I’m sure. Sending you all the best, a huge hug, and lots of love.

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      • You’re most welcome. I know Sadie was with you on your walk. It is so weird to know that you’ve done the right thing and yet to feel so miserable, but that’s unconditional love for you. You accepted the pain to give her peace.
        A huge hug back to you.

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  3. My heart breaks for you. Say goodbye to our furbabies is so very hard. They bring such unconditional love to our families. Sending you much love & big hugs my friend.

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  4. Oh gosh, I feel for you and your family. You must be devastated. They’re more than animals, these dogs that join our families. And they’re so good to us and for us, and they really are man’s best friend. We’re so lucky to have them. Thinking of you. xx

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  5. Karen, As one who has had a four-legged companion most of her life, your writing brought back every bit of the pain with similar circumstances. The mind tells you it is the right thing to do, your friend deserves dignity and rest. The heart struggles for hope, a sign the symptoms were only temporary, anything to keep your furry family member by your side, but you know. To hold your trusted companion during this crosssing, I believe, gives them peace they have earned by being a valued and loved member of the family. May Sadie rest in peace. May you find peace. Expect to encounter moments where you hear those familiar footfalls, or whines, or barks, and feel the nuzzling or the weight of that noble head. Those things and so many more, remain in your heart no matter how much time passes. Celebrate the years you had with Sadie. Good doggie.

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    • Thank you so much for this beautiful thought! It really helps to hear from people who have been through this. We have lost cats in the past, but one was terminally ill and it was very clear. The others simply walked into the woods one day…..This was a first. I had a beautiful dram of Sadie that helped; she was at my front door (like always) but was all black fur again, and was jumping in the snow, just like she used to do. She looked right at me and grinned that doggie grin, then she disappeared. What a sweet good bye!

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      • Karen, I wrote the anonymous comment….my eyes were so teary, I just hit post before I entered all my e-mail information. I am glad Sadie visited you. She wants you to feel better. The ones we love do not leave us. Hugs. Your post about Sadie brought back so many memories.

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      • Oh, thank you, Sue! I heard the voice of a friend in there, but wasn’t sure who it was. She was a sweetie. Last night I was in tears because of the thunder. She’d usually be shaking in my arms during a storm…

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