20 Nov Goodbye to Our Beloved, Big Bulldog: Sadie

This morning we had to put down Sadie, our American bulldog. An aggressive cancer felled her quickly. She was ten.

She was Jill’s all-time favorite dog, without question the sweetest we’ve owned. Brawny and barrel-chested, she looked imposing. And, like most dogs of her breed, she was territorial and barked vigorously at strangers.

One day a stranger in a pickup truck peeled down our drive. On occasion, this happens: a yahoo driving in to check out the farm and maybe scope out something to steal. But Sadie was on the case: she barked and barked and barked. The stranger pulled alongside Jill in the drive.

Jill said, “Can I help you?”
The stranger narrowed his eyes at Sadie, barking, barking, barking.
He said, “Can you make that dog stop?”
“Are you looking for somebody?” Jill asked.
“That dog,” said the stranger–it was clear he wasn’t about to step out of his truck: “Does he ever stop barking?”
“No,” said Jill. “She is wary of strangers.”
The stranger grimaced, then gunned his truck back down the drive, in a cloud of dust.

The stranger couldn’t have known that, as fierce as Sadie looked, she was actually docile: friendly to everything and everybody, including cats. Cats, by the way, adored her. We’re not sure why, but they were attracted to her and followed her around. Here’s a video example: Cats Love Sadie

Had you–as as stranger–approached her, she would have stopped barking and wagged her stub of a tail. Truth is, Sadie had almost no teeth because, in her former life, she had chewed long and hard, day after day, on the chain that kept her tethered to a post for the first five years of her life.

She was used as a breeder in a puppy mill in Florida. She was a cruelty case, brought north as a rescue. We don’t know if she had been beaten–she winced if you raised an arm suddenly and she was frightened of brooms and just about anything that might be mistaken for a whip. Nonetheless, it seemed that somebody somewhere along the line had given her love. That is, she knew what love looked like and sought it out.

Nothing made her happier than Jill’s arrival after work every night: Sadie would hop in joy, run in circles, then lean into Jill for a hug.

Although she adapted well to life in the city, where we adopted her, we think the best part of her life was here, on the farm–where, for three years, she sniffed her way across the fields, rolled in the grass, and galloped through the flowers.

Sadie was patient, eager to please, and enjoyed riding in the car, no matter how short the trip. One of her most endearing traits was her false courage. When the weather turned cool, we’d hear vixen screeching their banshee calls in the fields. This would rile Sadie. Then I’d say, “You want to go get ‘em, girl?” Sadie would wag her stub. Then we’d clamber down the stairs and out into the night, Sadie bolting ahead to bark and bark and bark at the fox. But she never did “go get ‘em.” No, she’d wait for me: I’d yip and howl and bark. She’d do the same, both of us standing in the chill, peering into the broad night, pretending that we were the bosses of all we could not see.

rtanner
rtanner@loyola.edu