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My Dog, Sadie

December 2013

My Dog, SadieHi, readers! This past October, I said goodbye to Sadie, the sweetest dog ever. She was the only dog I've ever had, and I'm very grateful that we were together for fifteen and a half happy years.

Growing up in Princeton, New Jersey, our house was always filled with pets. My parents loved animals and were actively involved with the Small Animal Veterinary Endowment, a Princeton animal rescue organization. Over the years, we had cats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles, and fish, but for some reason, a dog never joined our menagerie.

After I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment, I couldn't wait to get a pet. I immediately adopted Spanky, who would be the first of many kittens that I've either owned or fostered. I truly enjoy cats—I love their company when I'm at home, and I'm amazed at how they can make me laugh.

I share this background to show that I never actually intended to adopt a puppy; it just happened. I had moved to the country, and one day I stopped in to visit my neighbors, who had just adopted a puppy named Daisy. Their daughter had fostered Daisy's mother, a pregnant stray, and was looking for homes for the puppies and the mom. I fell in love with Daisy. Then my neighbor told me that there was another puppy exactly like Daisy at her daughter's house. Before I knew it, I was at the pet store buying everything for a dog!

Originally, I thought that Sadie would spend weekdays with me at my apartment in New York City and weekends in the country, but it turned out that Sadie was not a city dog. She was afraid of everything she encountered there—garbage trucks, traffic, other dogs, walking on cement - you name it, she was terrified. So I decided to spend Sadie's first summer in the country. Fifteen years later, I'm still here!

Once Sadie adapted to country living, she was very happy and a wonderful companion. She went everywhere with me. She loved hopping in the car to run errands or joining me on summer vacations. I looked forward to our daily two-mile walks, rain or shine, which were always a welcome break from work.

When Sadie was nine months old, I inadvertently started a holiday card tradition. It began when Sadie and I attended a Christmas party at our veterinarian's. Santa Claus was at the party, and I was given a picture of Sadie sitting on his lap. I turned it into a card, and every year after that, I found a way to dress Sadie up and take her picture in some kind of holiday setting. She was always patient and cooperative, and I'm happy to have so many funny, sweet pictures of her.

I often wondered what might have happened to Sadie if her mother had not been rescued and had delivered her litter in the wild. Sadie was a shy and timid dog, and I doubted that she would have been able to find her way alone in the world. This inspired me to write A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray, which tells the story of a dog named Squirrel from her perspective after she is separated from her mother and her brother, Bone. Bone's own journey is told in a companion book, Everything For a Dog. Recently, I was excited to get back to my editing roots and edit a collection of contemporary dog stories called Because of Shoe. In fact, Sadie wrote the foreword to the book, in which she took credit for turning me from a cat person to a dog-and-cat person! (FYI: It's entirely possible that Sadie had a little help with the foreword.)

I'll always be grateful to the person who found Sadie's mother on a highway median in Florida, rescued her, and had her safely transported to a foster home in New York. I've been fostering kittens and cats for many years now, and the ultimate goal for all of us who foster is to find happy homes for these stray or abandoned animals. I'm thankful that Sadie found her way to me.

Happy reading!