There is a sadness that every mother feels when her “baby” goes off to school that very first day. Sajo and I had each other to cling to the day our baby boy took his first bus ride off to school. We had become a solid pack in Sajo’s mind. She was the Nanny dog to my boys, and she took her job very seriously. We trusted each other, and had a very strong personal bond. Many nights I would lay on the floor beside her and stroke her beautiful fur after the boys had gone to bed. My husband would rub her ears, and she, in turn, would lay her head in his lap for hours. It was a loving bond so deeply entrenched you would have thought we had always been together. That day, as the bus drove off, we all stood and watched him go. For the briefest moment you would almost think, Sajo had a tear in her eyes.
As she did the first time she saw our older boy off on the bus, she lay outside all day, and waited for them to return. This time, she settled on a softer patch of the lawn to keep vigil. She didn’t move all day. I tried to coax her to go for a walk; she was having none of it. Finally, in the afternoon, the bus returned her charges. I watched as she painfully and stiffly got to her feet. She greeted them in her way, head to the chest and tail wagging. I could tell she was hurting for laying there all day ~ but she would never have complained. The boys danced up the driveway all excited to tell of that first day; Sajo followed slowly and painfully behind.
The leaves started to fall and the air chilled over the next month. Every morning, she seemed stiffer, and more in pain. In October, we got a call from Golden Rescue. There was a dog at a Vet’s about a 2 hour drive from our house. It had been picked up a week before in rough shape. Despite being thin as a rail, and matted and filthy, she was otherwise healthy, and we could have her if we went to pick her up. I had a heart-to-heart with my husband; we agreed that I would go and get this girl. This time I took both boys. I went in to see the dog first before I let the boys encounter her. She was younger and spry and very full of life. She was what Sajo must have been like before her accident. The boys fell in love with her. She danced for them and gave kisses. My eldest, James, took her on the leash and she gave him a run for his money. He quickly got her reined in and was smitten with her. On the way home, we discussed what to call her and came up with the name “Sadie.”
Sajo and Sadie met in the backyard of our house. Sadie respectfully showed the older dog her belly. Sajo sniffed her out and seemed to give her approval. The boys hugged both girls and tried to encourage them to play. Sajo tried to give chase to the younger dog, but it was too much for her. Soon the boys were playing with just Sadie, as Sajo looked on. I sat beside Sajo, stroked her fur ~ we had both realized this is what happens when boys meet a young lady!
Over the next few days, I noticed it more and more: Sajo, was very old. She had so much trouble getting up and moving around. She and Sadie would lay on the floor together, and the younger dog would rest her head as close as she dared to the older one. After about two weeks, I came down to find the two dogs curled up almost touching. Sadie lifted her head first and gave me a pained look. Sajo could barely lift her head. When I took her out that morning for her constitutional, Sajo couldn’t get herself back up the single step on to the deck. I lifted her back end and helped her into the house. She watched the boys bond with Sadie over the next few weeks. Sajo was preparing herself, and me for the passing of the torch.
The morning came. I had spent the night, again body curled around the old dog. She couldn’t stand up from laying down without being lifted. I waited till the boys were at school before I called the vet. On my own, without my husband or the boys, I lifted the nearly 80 pound golden into the car. I knew, as did she, that it was time. My husband offered to come with me, but I declined when I dropped in to tell him what I was doing. I felt that I owed it too her to do this, just between us. The vet was so kind. Sajo couldn’t have been lifted onto the table without being in more pain, so he let me lay beside her on the floor. My fingers clutched her fur and I promised her “I will take it from here.” I told her what a wonderful dog she was and how she had made such an impact on us in the short time we had her. In those last moments, we both knew the deepness and breadth of unconditional love. She had passed the torch to Sadie, she had taught us the beauty of a recycled heart, and we had given her happiness and our unconditional love and acceptance in return. In the few short years we had together, we had taught each other a great many things.
Sajo was with us for about 2 years. Sadie was our’s for 6. We rescued Scout and then Misty before we ended up rescuing our first Shih tzu, Wiggins. After the death of Misty, we stopped rescuing. Wiggins needed so much to turn her around, as she had been abused. I stepped down from rescue, knowing that I had done some wonderful things with some fantastic dogs. Hamish was a Christmas gift to me from my parents. They figured if I had two dogs, I wouldn’t be tempted to rescue another one.
Rescue is a wonderful thing. There is a lot to be said for “RECYCLED LOVE” . The hardest part for me was having the older dogs for such a short time. It is rewarding. It teaches you how to love unconditionally and accept things the way they are. Every child should grow up with a pet ~ Unconditional love and acceptance from the beginning of our lives, I believe, makes for better people. ~ Marjorie
Editor’s Note: Thank you, Marjorie, for sharing this inspiring story with us. Every pet owner should have your loving heart!