Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ode To Sarah

February 11, 2010
Today is my 10th anniversary with Sarah.  In some ways, it's rather hard to believe that it's only been 10 years, because sometimes it seems like I've had her forever.  But I love that little dog so much it hurts sometimes.  I dread the day when she is no longer with me; she has become not only my best friend, but also my confidant and the one that I tell all of my secrets too.  When I'm having a bad day at work, it's tremendously comforting to know that there's a little blonde puppy just waiting for me to come home.

But as much as I love my "Pooky" as she's also known, Mac (her predecessor) still holds a special place in my heart.  I still cry when I think about him and the way he died ( he was hit by a school bus in the road out in front of our house).  Mom tried to make us feel better by saying that he die doing what he loved best: running and chasing Mugsy outside in the sunshine.  I never found that to be particularly comforting though.  I think it's because I felt guilty.  Earlier that morning, Mac had been sitting on the couch trying to snuggle with me (his way of snuggling was to pin me against the back of the couch and wash my face).  This was now only 2 1/2 months before the transplant, and my health wasn't very good at that point.  I wasn't feeling well that day, and I kept pushing him down.  He finally gave up and went outside.  And a couple hours later he was gone.  In the days that followed, I wanted so badly to be able to go back and do that day over again so that I could give Mac all the snuggles he wanted before he was taken away from me.  It was only two days later when I got Sarah, and I can still remember how incredibly guilty I felt about getting another puppy so soon after losing Mac.  But Mom told me that Mac lived to make us smile, and he wouldn't want us to be grieving so much for him; if I needed another puppy to make me happy again, he would understand and he wouldn't mind.  And she was probably right.  Mac was the biggest clown you ever met, and we laughed so much in the few years that we had him.  He seemed to thrive on making us happy.

But back to Sarah.  Two days after Mac was killed, we were finally able to bury him (the ground was frozen solid, and we had to thaw an area of it first so that James could dig a hole).  We did this first thing in the morning, because both Mom and I had appointments to see the chiropractor later that afternoon, and we were also going to go grocery shopping.  We finished our shopping early, so we went to West Edmonton Mall to look for a birthday present for my cousin Ally.  We wandered in and out of a few stores, but didn't really find anything.  I don't think that either of our hearts were really in the shopping that day.  The last store we came out of was just across from PJ's Pets.  Mom suggested we go over and look at the puppies and the kitties to cheer ourselves up.  And that's when we found Sarah.  She was 5 months old, and had been living in the pet store since before Christmas.  On this day, they had her in a pen out in the middle of the store.  There were all kinds of people trying to pet her, and she was running around trying to get away from all of them.  But then Mom and I went over and bent down to look at her, and she came right over to us and  not only let us pet her, but stood up on her hind legs with her front legs on the side of the pen wagging her tail for all she was worth and licked our fingers, which made both of us laugh.  After just a couple of minutes, I got up and went and looked at some of the other puppies.  This sweet, adorable, friendly little puppy was more than my broken heart could take.  But a few minutes later I went back to her again.  Mom was still scratching her, and she told me that in the last couple of days she had been thinking about maybe getting me a little dog of my own to help fill the hole left by Mac and Pfeffer (my rabbit that I had had to give away the previous November when I got too sick to look after him).  But seeing this puppy and how much she took to me had her thinking that maybe she should get a puppy now while I was healthy enough that I could work with her and train her a little before the transplant.  The first thing I wanted to know was if she could sleep in my room with me.  Mac had slept in my room from the time we got him (it was the only way to keep him quiet at night so that he wouldn't keep all of us awake with his barking and whining), and Mom said absolutely.  Then she said that normally she would NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store because of the horror stories you hear about puppy mill puppies and because their helath can be questionable.  But looking at Sarah you could tell tht she was healthey: she was lively and active, her eyes were clear and bright, and her teeth were nice and white.  Her jaws are a little misaligned, but until Mom and Dad spent $10k on dental work and surgery for me, so were mine (in my mind this is just one more reason why we're such a good pair).  I looked at Sarah and thought about it for about 3 seconds and then said yes, I wanted her.  (In the first few days after we brought her home, I often thought that I would her give up in a heartbeat if it meant having one more day with Mac.  I look at her now and wonder how on earth I could have possibly felt that way, although I realize that it was the grief of losing Mac talking.)  Mom went and found a sales clerk and told her that we wanted to buy Sarah.  Before taking Mom to do all the paperwork for the sale, she asked if I wanted to hold my new puppy and I said yes.  She had to chase Sarah around the pen a bit before she managed to pick her up, but as soon as I held my arms out to take her, Sarah all but jumped into them and settled down against my chest.  I started crying right there in the middle of the pet store.  Sarah put her two front paws up on my cheeks and started licking my nose, which made me laugh.  I'm sure the other people in the store right then must have thought I was out of my mind.  Mom came back after finishing the sale and said that the sales clerk had said we could leave Sarah there until we had been to the chiropractor and then we would come back and get her.  I hated to leave her, but it wouldn't have been right to leave her in our cold car while we were at the chiropractor's office.

Dad was working out of the country at the time, and Mom was so worried about what he was going to say when he found out she had bought me a puppy.  He had never really taken to Mac all that much, although they were on much better terms when Mac died than they had been when he came home and found out about Mac.  But he loved Sarah as much as the rest of us did.  When he wnet out of the country again after the transplant, he would always ask about his "three girls" whenever he called.  I would sit on the floor by Sarah and put the phone to her ear, and Mom would tell Dad that Sarah was on the phone and he would talk to her.  She would listen for a minute and then lick the phone, and Mom would tell Dad that Sarah had said hi to him.  It was the sweetest thing you ever saw.  To this day, Sarah still likes "talking" on the phone (I've had many conversations with her myself, although most people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that I'm talking to my dog).

I'm sure that having Sarah is part of the reason why I recovered so quickly after the transplant.  In the couple of months leading up to it, Sarah had become my baby, and I was so worried about how she was going to do by herself.  We had been keeping her as an indoor dog, because we didn't want to take a chance on another accident, so I had to take her out on her leash several times a day to go to the bathroom.  Before the surgery, I helped Dad build a pen in the backyard for her, so that she wouldn't have to be locked in the house all day while Dad was at the hospital with Mom and I.  I was told that I could be in the hospital for anywehre form 7 to 14 days after the surgery; I was out in 6.  Because Sarah had to be walked, I was up and moving as soon as I got home, which also helped me.  And it's been shown in studies that people with pets have shorter recovery times from medical procedures and illnesses than those without them.  I often refer to her as my "angel in a dog-suit".

So Baby Girl, happy anniversary!  I hope you know how much you are loved, and that there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you after all you've done for me.

Until next time,