Sarah was a good dog

I miss my dog.


She has always been my dog, for all her 13 years and no matter who I lived with. Jeremy and I were looking for a mate for our elderly dog Casey and found a newspaper ad for a "b collie mix" in Roanoke. The b we assumed to mean border collie and that sounded great to us. When we arrived at the couple's house and saw this scrawny version of Lassie, we realized our mistake but we were committed. I think she was free.

Sarah when we first got her

She became my dog when she turned out to be such a problem. She was over a year old and not socialized or housebroken. She had attachment issues and was a 60 pound dog who wanted to be in your pocket.

We struggled with housebreaking her for years. It wasn't until Jeremy and I divorced and she was on her own with me and the cat that she really flourished. That was in 2002. She went on hundreds of walks with me on the beach. She rode in my Mini Cooper many times to Richmond to visit Rich. She did well with inviting a sassy Scottish terrier to come live with us when Rich and Connor came here.

She never needed a leash. She was the definition of a companion dog, never straying more than a few feet from us. Softly speaking her name would get her to come to you or go lie down, whichever was appropriate. And unless she was sick, she never messed in the house.

Then we moved to this new house 18 months ago. She had two scary spells of vestibular disease where she lost all balance for a week at a time. Then her hips got worse and we had to carry her in and out of the house. Then she had a hard time with our hardwood floors downstairs. Then she lost control of her bowels, ironically bringing on a reappearance of the "turd fairy" that we thought we'd outsmarted years ago.

Then it got harder to trick her into taking her pain pills. Then she had an even harder time walking around, routinely getting jackknifed on furniture and lacking the strength to get herself up off the floor without a lot of alarming banging around.

Saturday morning I carried her out to the yard but she wasn't strong enough to pee. She wouldn't eat her wet food or take her pills. And by the afternoon, I realized she had two bedsores on her side, one of which had torn open.

I carried her to the car and took her to the emergency vet, not wanting to give up on her but wondering if she would come home with me again. I realized I was able to easily carry her inside in one arm. She didn't fight me when I laid her on the towel in the waiting room. We weighed her and I was alarmed to see she'd withered down to 40 pounds.

I carried her back to the exam room and she let me put her on the table and didn't move. I talked to the vet and we had the "quality of life" talk. We couldn't keep her current bed sores clean, let alone keep her from getting more. And the antibiotics she'd need would just make her sick. So we opted to just help her go to sleep.

The vet took our picture for me. She came back with an assistant and I held her while they put her to sleep. I opted for getting her cremated for us because it's a mess to dig a hole large enough for a collie, particularly when it's 90F outside.

I thought I was okay. I had a good cry on the way home. We had friends in town and the distraction of dinner was nice. And I was okay with it until bedtime. We have our routine of putting Sarah out then getting her settled in the kitchen while Mollie comes upstairs to sleep with us. But Mollie kept pacing around and wouldn't come upstairs. It was breaking my heart. So I had to stay up late and write all this to say goodbye to a great dog.

I miss you, Sarah.

saying goodbye