This is my wound.
Sadie was my dog. She was my rock, my solace. She was much more than "just a dog." Sadie was a special addition to our family. Many of you don't know the reason that I had her in an apartment that didn't allow pets. She was a certified, papered, companion animal. Being present at her euthanasia was the most difficult thing that I've ever done. I held her as her life literally slipped away. I pressed my face against hers and sobbed uncontrollably as I clung to the scruff of her neck. I made sounds that shouldn't even be humanly possible. I clutched her collar in my hand as I left without her, emptiness overwhelming. Losing her left me reminiscing. Losing her was the salt in the wound.
I went back to the beginning.
When I was 10-years-old, I was sexually abused by a man that my family and I considered family. From the moment that I told my dad what was happening, I was whisked into a frenzy of police interviews and court dates. I was branded. I was a victim, and some considered me an instigator and said that I was lying or that I had asked for what happened to me. That's a lot of emotional trauma for a 10-year-old to endure. I suffer(ed) from anxiety, night terrors, and bouts of depression. I was placed in individual therapy, which I attended for an hour every Thursday. Eventually, I "graduated" to group therapy, which I attended every week. After a matter of a few months, the funding ran out. We were faced with several options: pay for therapy out-of-pocket, see a doctor so that I could be medicated, or look into a companion animal. The idea of a dog was joyous. What child doesn't want a puppy?!
One night, we stopped at Mark's Ark on a whim. We were just going in to look at the puppies. I remember walking over and seeing this tiny dog, about the size of a chihuahua, with ears the size of satellite dishes on her head. I fell in love at first sight. I asked to hold her, and the rest is history. Sadie Ann came home with us that night. You would be surprised at how therapeutic it is to train and care for a puppy. She was the distraction that I so desperately needed and the nonjudgmental, loving being that I could pour my heart out to without the slightest hesitation. She listened to me unceasingly and tilted her head intermittently at the sounds of certain words. I formed a special bond with her. Even though I still hold that she loved my mom the most, she was always right there next to me if I was hurt or upset. She could always tell, and she wouldn't leave my side. She was able to comfort me more in her silence than any person could with words.
I struggled with the fact that I would have to leave her at home while attending college. I knew that it was for the best. Home was home for her. Moving her would have put an unnecessary strain on both of us. That's the reason that I chose to leave her with my family when I married and moved out. It was just better to keep her home. She had cataracts in both of her eyes, and I knew that she couldn't hear as well as she used to, but she would still come greet me whenever I visited home. We had a special kind of bond. It was a love/hate relationship. She drove me crazy most of the time, but, my word, I loved that dog. When she left, she took a piece of me with her. My heart literally ached for well over a day. Just when I thought that I couldn't cry anymore, my eyes held a thousand tears. In time, the raw edges will be smoothed, but I will always have a hole that only she could fill. There will always be that empty feeling when I return home to visit and she's not there to greet me or lounging in her favorite chair. I will still struggle with the events that took place some 13 years ago, but I will do so now knowing that I was not alone during my darkest times. Sadie didn't just enrich my life as most dogs do. She saved it.
"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet."