Sadie in the Valley of the Shadow

It all started, apparently, when I had surgery a couple of years ago and couldn’t take Sadie for long walks.  With a lot less exercise and no change in her diet, my Lab/Beagle mix became a little… well,…  chunky.  She too had become a lot less active, so she continued to gain weight despite cutting back on her daily rations.  First one, and then both, knees developed torn ligaments. She couldn’t take more than one or two steps without her legs collapsing.  Her main method of locomotion was scooting across the floor, dragging her backside.2012-06-21 002

When we went to the vet, I learned that the only solution to these torn ligaments would be surgery. Or rather surgeries, one for each leg, several weeks apart.  I hardly needed to think about the extended time of recovery or any of the possible side effects; because the price tag alone put it out of my reach.  Sadie may be a $4,000 dog, but I don’t have a $4,000 medical budget for her.

So what to do now?  The doctor said I could keep her at home, but that she is likely to grow less and less able to walk, in more and more pain as the ligaments continue to tear.  And one day I would need to make the awful decision that this would be the last day of her life.

But Sadie seems to have decided otherwise, at least for the moment.  The smooth hardwood floors are still a problem; but anything with carpet seems to give her enough traction to get up on all four legs and walk for a few steps.  At first, she struggled with the four stairs from the back door to the back yard; now she goes up to the second floor and back whenever she wants. She’s reclaiming some of her familiar routines: demanding a treat after every trip outdoors, heading to the door to greet every visitor, getting excited when she sees my walking shoes (even though she can’t go for walks), and wanting to sleep on my bed (if she can convince me to lift her).

This may only be a temporary reprieve.  I imagine the torn ligaments will catch up to her one day, and we will be back in that dark place.  But for now at least, Sadie has found some rays of sunshine in her Valley of the Shadow.  And I’m content to walk there with her.

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Barbara Bruneau

Barbara Bruneau is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is semi-retired, having previously served congregations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Barbara enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and weaving. She shares her home with cats named Abigail and Bijou.

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