“It was not just 288,000 hellos. It was 288,000 goodbyes as well.”
Meet Sadie – who just might be a living legend in New York’s Capital District and beyond. She is a recently retired therapy dog, who (like many people) struggles with accepting retirement.
Sadie is now 16 ½ years old, with more than half of her lifespan devoted to work. For eight-and-a-half joyful years, she had greeted hundreds of people regularly. While visiting establishments, she would make her way to every person in the room and bond with them. A glowing example of kindness, gentleness and patience – she has taught others how to be the same.
Sadie began her career, let us say, by hook or crook. One of her two human companions was playing music at an outdoor venue. With the windows down, fresh water available, and no immediate bathroom needs – Sadie seemed initially content to wait in the nearby car.
That is, for a very short while… The normally well-behaved Sadie then took one longing look out her open window, sailed right through it, and joined the crowd. At that moment, her “career” was born. Years of mingling with groups, calming antsy children, and coaxing seniors to stretch out their arms and rub her silky fur had just begun.
This was Sadie’s “Aha!” moment. Before that, her male human companion had experienced one also. He had been traveling through New England at the time, and had come upon a dog lying quietly alone in a park. This dog was calm, content, and not seeming to question his place in the world.
So calm and welcoming was this dog that people soon began gravitating toward him. They would stop to pet and “speak” with him, and then go on their way. Sadie’s human companion noticed that this lone dog didn’t move to get up, follow, or roam – but stayed happily in place.
Moments later, this dog’s own human companion exited a nearby shop. The dog then happily responded to a gentle verbal cue, and the two walked away with no further ado. Watching all this, Sadie’s human companion suddenly realized, “We can do that too!” He and Sadie soon became that same kind of an in-sync team.
Sadie was a natural when it came to doing therapeutic work. She had also been given a solid foundation in 4-H training by her original human companion. (Sadie had been “adopted” by her current human companions when she was about three-and-a-half years old.)
Sadie’s work routine entailed frequent visits to assisted living facilities, memory care units, ARCs, schools, summer youth programs, churches, and other human-service venues. She worked in tandem with her male human companion during musical performances.
Sadie often served as an “ice breaker” for those who are nervous and/or shy. Her big brown eyes would melt the hearts of people who generally had little interaction with others. Even some with advanced Alzheimer’s would remember Sadie’s name with obvious enthusiasm.
During her retirement, Sadie now sleeps longer and savors nutritious meals that Ladies of English manor houses would be envious of. When out and about on her daily romps, she still loves to meet and greet the passersby. It’s uncanny how many strangers comment upon what a beautiful (in every sense of the word) dog she is.
Sadie has also had a profound effect upon her human companions. Her female human companion explained, “Sadie teaches me to be more mindful of my immediate surroundings. She also helps me to feel grounded on Mother Earth.”
When asked what they hope to give Sadie in return for her years of service, her human companions replied, “We want to “Be Here Now” with her, to convey to her how much she is loved, to enjoy hanging out with her in natural settings, and to participate in meaningful experiences together.”
In other words, to care for Sadie at least half as much as Sadie has cared for everyone else…