Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Dark Horse Region

The Dark Horse Region
A View into the center of the Milky Way

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Good-bye Sadie

Some years ago I told of a story about a heartbreaking experience with a new pup I had just purchased who died three days later from the Parvo Virus.  It was a gut wrenching time difficult to endure, but because of that experience I became a better person with a kinder heart.

This week my family had to face another difficult situation with a pet.  Our sweet and even-tempered Sadie...a predominantly golden retriever and chow mix had to be put down.  To this day we're not for sure how old she was as we didn't bring her into our home until she was at least two maybe three years old...but she must have been at least fifteen.

We rescued her from People and Pets when my boys were quite young...Christopher was maybe three or four and Tim was nine or ten.  She took to our home right away and on the first night she picked up a package of unopened treats and carried it into the living room to let us know she would like to have one.  I knew right away she was a smart dog.

Never once did she ever show any aggression...always happy...always loving and excited to see us and to greet new strangers who might drop by.  She had this odd sort of snarly smile she always showed when she greeted someone.  That smile became her signature expression that everyone commented of many she had.

When we moved to Kentucky eight years ago, her life changed a lot as we moved to the country where she could roam freely.  It took her a little while to get use to it, but over time she adapted and her temperament changed some...not quite as hyper...more laid back.  Most of the time she simply stayed on the porch occasionally barking at passing farm equipment that made too much noise.  She seemed to take great joy in barking at trucks towing a trailer for some reason...I never could figure out why she did that.

Our neighbor has two dogs. a much younger half wild black female Lab who tends to cause more trouble than any single dog should...but she and Sadie seemed to get along pretty well.  Bella developed a bad tendency to chase cars there for a while, and one day a few years back when Sadie still had the energy to do so she decided she would start chasing cars too.  Seemed like a good thing to do I suppose to a dog.  I yelled at her numerous times to no avail until one day she took off after a car coming in one direction and didn't see another car coming from the other direction and was rolled  under the full length of the second car.  Boy, did she ever yelp...thought we had lost her for sure...but by some miracle she only sustained some bruises..and a short lived limp...oh...and by the way...she never chased another car after that.

I guess the favorite thing she liked to do was run with me when I hiked out to the pond on the back of the field behind the house.  She always took off way out front and ran at full throttle.  In the fall and winter we would sometimes bust a covey of quail and she'd get all excited...but she enjoyed chasing rabbits the most.  I always knew when she was onto one because she'd start in with this high pitched half bark half yelp.  She never caught one, but she sure liked to chase after them.

For all those years she seemed just fine...strong and healthy and full of life, but last spring she showed a noticeable slowing down...seemed to want to lay around more...didn't run as hard on our pond walks...seemed to always end up walking the last couple hundred yards home.  She didn't appear to be sick or anything, just tired.  As the next few months passed, she slowed more and more...stopped eating as much and began to lose that healthy muscular fit body she had.  She became more and more lethargic and had trouble walking on slick surfaces like the wood floors and climbing the stairs to the deck.  A few weeks ago she followed us out to the pond on what proved to be her last trip out there.  She almost didn't make it back and spent the rest of the day just laying around and when we called her, she would just look up at us.

Over the next few days she got to where she could barely walk at all...she stopped eating and rapidly lost weight.  Her once strong body became thin and emaciated.  When we looked into her eyes we knew that age was catching up to her and it was just a matter of time.  By this time Sadie couldn't even stand and refused to eat.

As hard as it was, we knew the right thing to do was to let her go and not prolong the inevitable.  I was okay with that...until we actually took her to the vet.  My wife Kris started blubbering when the veterinarian shaved Sadie's front paw to expose the vein for the injection that would put her down. That blasted old lump returned to my throat again when she did that.  As I wrote years ago about the loss of that other little pup...I realized once again that over the years I had become more softhearted than I wanted to admit to...but that's okay.  For to look at ones self through the eyes of a trusting pet that retained complete and total trust in you to the very end...well, I can't help but somehow feel like I betrayed that trust by having to end her life the way we did.  I suppose that is what makes me feel sad the most...but I know it was the best thing for her.  She deserved more out of life than what was happening to her.

We buried Sadie outback in an area near where she always enjoyed sitting in the shade.  Its a nice place surround by a small white picket fence facing toward the fields where she lived out her favorite activities.  Yeah...we're gonna miss that old dog...but I suppose the world was a better place for having her in it while she only regret is...I wish I would have been as good of an owner as she was a pet...and I hope I have become a better person for having had her around, this newly rediscovered old softhearted heart of mine thinks so anyway.


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