Sweet Sadie: My Italian Greyhound Rescue Dog
Sometimes I look at her and wish that she could speak. Her past is a mystery, just a few sketchy details that tell little about her life before I found her. It would probably be more accurate to say we found each other because I needed her as much as she needed me. It’s like that with rescue dogs I think.
Sweet sadie is a two year old Italian Greyhound and I loved her from the moment I saw her picture. She was described as a tiny Iggy (that’s what they are called by Italian Greyhound fans) that was a sweet dog. I was told she needed a home where she would have her own person and not have to share them with other dogs. They said she just needed a lap to sit on and someone to love her. It sounded easy enough, but I didn’t want another dog, especially not another Italian Greyhound. Let me explain.
The Back Story
For 11years, I shared my life with Luna, a blue Italian Greyhound with white Irish markings. Luna was smart and funny. She was a manipulative little clown who knew how to get her way with me. In a previous writing, I’ve described the endearing and not so endearing characteristics of her breed so I won’t go into them again. You can read about it by clicking here.
Luna was the four-legged love of my life, but owning her was sometimes like being bound by a ball and chain. She didn’t travel well in a car and I didn’t know anyone who would let her sleep in their bed if I left her for a few days. So, I didn’t go anywhere that would mean leaving her overnight. We spent every day and night together for 11 years.
Luna was an active, healthy dog and the only time she was ever seen by a veterinarian was for her spay surgery and for the required vaccinations. Like many small dogs, Luna did experience two seizures after getting vaccines, but had no other health problems… until.
Late in 2013, Luna developed a cough and a lump appeared on her hip. She was diagnosed and treated for bronchitis and the lump was thought to be a sebaceous cyst. We treated it as such, but it only got worse. Three weeks later there were multiple lumps appearing and I knew this was no cyst. A return visit to her vet on Friday evening rocked our world. We were told the cyst was a tumor and it had to come out. Her surgery was scheduled for Monday morning.
Being slightly intuitive can be a curse. All weekend I was haunted by the feeling that this was the end for Luna and me. I watched her suffer and did all that I knew to ease her pain. Nothing was working and when she looked at me, I could see in her eyes that our time was short. She knew, too, and when she looked at me, I sensed that she was saying goodbye and telling me that it had to be okay for both of us.
Monday morning finally arrived and a chest x-ray revealed that Luna’s small body was riddled with cancer. Her lungs were completely filled with tumor and there was no reason to put her through the surgery. A few minutes later, Luna and I said our final goodbye and she was gone. She took a piece of my heart with her.
Luna's JourneyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Grief and Loss
The loss of my Luna was devastating. My home, once full of Iggy joy, was empty and I had a lot of time to think. I thought of all the dogs I had read about lately who had been lost to cancer and I wondered why. Dogs didn’t die of cancer when I was a child so why now? Was it the quality of pet food? Could it be the introduction of this foreign body called a micro-chip? Was it exposure to household chemicals and cleaners or flea and tick preventatives? I began asking questions and sharing Luna’s story on my Facebook network of Italian Greyhound lovers. My intention was not to solicit sympathy. I just wanted to start a conversation; to get others thinking about the reasons our dogs were dying of cancer at such an alarming rate.
Over the next few days, words of compassion, encouragement, and support poured into my message file. Some shared their own tragic stories while others simply said they understood my pain. One comment stood out from the rest. It simply said “You need another Iggy and we’re going to find you one”. I wanted to scream “No… no… no…”. I didn’t want another Iggy. I didn’t want another dog. It was too soon. I wasn’t ready. Luna could not be replaced and she would never forgive me for getting another dog so soon. I replied to the message and expressed all these things. I thanked the person for caring so much and offering to help but made it clear that it was just too soon. I still needed to grieve some more.
Karma, Kismet, or Kindness
It had only been a couple of days since I turned down the offer of finding me an Italian Greyhound when I received a message with a photo attached. The message went something like this…
“This little girl needs a forever home. She is in Pennsylvania and we will transport her to you in Virginia. She is two years old, weighs 8 pounds, and needs to be with someone where she can be the only dog. She needs a lot of attention and love. Say yes and we will start arranging the transport.”
I looked at the photo of this little dog and it was love at first sight. Her name was Sadie and she was precious. I didn’t want her, but I couldn’t say no. Sadie had already stolen my heart.
It only took a week for her to arrive. Her fosters, Barb and Buddy, drove the entire seven hour trip from Pennsylvania to Virginia rather than using the normal relay transport. They said they loved Sadie too much to traumatize her with multiple transfers and drivers. And, they didn’t want her to spend a single night with strangers. I was stunned by their concern and dedication to this little Italian Greyhound they had rescued from an ad on craigslist just two weeks earlier.
They arrived in the middle of a snowstorm. Barb and Buddy, their three Italian Greyhounds, another rescued Iggy named Charlotte, and sweet Sadie. One look at Sadie and I knew this was meant to be. Call it karma, kismet, or kindness; it doesn’t matter. It was magic. With tears streaming down our faces, Barb and I hugged, knowing that for one of us this was goodbye and for the other, hello. You see, Barb loved Sadie too. She had only had her for a few weeks, but it was long enough to love her. Somehow I think we all knew this was bigger than us. It was something special. This was about strangers being forever bound as friends through a shared love of a tiny, 8 pound, four-legged creature whose primary need was love. Karma?
Looking back, I am still amazed at how Sadie came to share my life. I often wonder how the stars aligned or fate prevailed to make it happen. Was it my kismet, Barb’s, or Sadie’s? I’ll never know. Perhaps it was one of the other kind souls who were involved. Yes, there is more to the story.
Sadie's foster (Auntie Barb now) sent me daily photos until Sadie arrived in person.Click thumbnail to view full-size
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The Difference is in the Details
To really understand, you have to know about the kindness of the other strangers who are now friends. This all began with a forum post on Facebook. I had written about Luna’s seizures on the Italian Greyhound with Seizures page. There, I was introduced to Cathe who lives in Minnesota and is the administrator of the page. Cathe had been a valuable resource for information on dogs with seizures. When I wrote about losing Luna, it was Cathe who said “We’ve got to find you another Iggy.” Cathe had her own network for finding good homes for Italian Greyhounds and she contacted her friend Christal who lives in Pennsylvania. Christal has been involved with rescue (The Sighthound Underground) for many years. She also knew that Barb had a rescue that needed a special home. Once Christal and Barb agreed that Sadie was a good fit for me, Susan, who lives in Florida, was asked to coordinate the transport and she is a wizard at moving rescues across the country.
Are you getting the picture yet? Sadie came to live with me through the kindness of some amazing people who give of their time, money, and heart to animal rescue. Their lives are dedicated to taking animals from sad situations and finding them a forever home. Through their efforts, friendships are formed that will last a lifetime and the lives of countless dogs are saved from neglect, abuse, or kill shelters. I choose to believe that Sadie’s arrival in my life is a little bit karma, a little bit kismet, and a whole lot of kindness.
If rescue dogs could speak...
I said in the beginning that I wish Sadie could speak. I want to know what makes her so submissive. When she cowers I wonder if she’s been kicked or screamed at or if she was terrorized by more aggressive dogs. I look at her tiny body and think of her voracious appetite and I wonder if she ever had enough to eat before she was rescued. I have more questions than answers and only Sadie knows the truth.
Sadie’s little body tells me she’s been a mother. The vet records that came with her tell me she received her vaccinations. Her wagging tail and eager kisses tell me that she’s happy now and that should be enough for me. Still, I wish she could speak so that I could know what else was missing in her life before. I want to make up for what was missing. Instead, I am left guessing and doing the best I know how. I think that’s enough for her though, because in her own way, she tells me that she loves me too.
Sweet Sadie has found her forever home. She will never need to be rescued again. She is loved and will never know hunger or abuse again. She will spend all the time she wants in my lap and she will always have new squeaky toys to destroy. We will treasure each day we have together and tell our story to all who will listen. It’s an important story about love and kindness and the need for more people to get involved in rescue. Until backyard breeders and kill shelters are put out of business, there will be a need for dedicated and caring volunteers. So, if Sadie could speak, this is what I think she would say…
“Please don’t buy a puppy from a pet store or a backyard breeder. Search for rescue groups on the web or in your local area. Spay or neuter your dog. There are too many unwanted puppies in the world already. There’s a dog out there that needs you as much as you need them. Please adopt through rescue and save a life. You will also meet some amazing people and make some forever friends.”
A Note from the Author
Sadie was the perfect dog for me and it was no accident that we found each other. It was an emotional journey though. I was not prepared for it, having never rescued before. When you consider adopting through rescue, consider also that the person who has your dog may also have fallen in love with it. It can be hard for all involved. Barb and I both loved Sadie. We had to work through the feelings of me taking Sadie away from Barb and Barb having to give her up. Ultimately, it came down to what was best for Sadie and that was to be the diva in a one dog home. Barb knew that and did the most unselfish thing of all. She gave Sadie up. As a result, she and I are bound forever by the heart of a little Italian Greyhound. We are sisters by different mothers and we are friends. There are many pleasures to be found in adopting a rescue but some come with an added bonus. Sadie, for all her smallness, has bound Cathe, Christal, Barb, Susan and I together and I will always be indebted to each of them.
© 2014 Linda Crist