This follow-up post is overdue, but I simply could not bring myself to write it as I'm overtaken with emotions at the mere thought of our last 24 hours with our sweet Sadie. Chris has beautifully written about our last day with her and what we learned from our experience. Grab a tissue, or if you anything like me - a box of tissues...I ugly cry EVERY time I read this. However, please read all the way through. The end is crucial in understanding what we can take away from it all.
The long-awaited (and dreaded) blog post that concludes the saga of Sadie has finally arrived. It was a year ago today that we lost our precious pup. So here’s what happened…
Bri and I went to Jacksonville (North Carolina) to visit family. Sadie came with us. Her first road trip!
The Friday we were there was pretty normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. We spent a lot of time outdoors at “The Farm” with our nephews playing on golf carts, and just running around. Sadie had done quite well off the leash so I wanted to see how she’d do in a large outdoor environment, and for the most part she did very well. She was only out of my sight for one minute when she ran behind a barn into the woods.
That night Bri and I were getting a slideshow of photos ready from our trip to Swaziland, Africa to show to my family. Then… all of a sudden… Sadie threw up on the floor. And it smelt horrible!
At the time we all reacted as anyone would to dog vomit: a combo of disgust, pity, and laughter (thankfully she threw up on the on hardwood so it was easy to clean up). While I got busy cleaning the floor, Bri promptly took the pup outside just in case she had a repeat performance.
When I had finished, I walked out to check on them only to find Bri sitting criss-cross on the concrete patio slab with tears in her eyes and Sadie looking really pathetic and shaking in Bri’s lap. “I’m scared,” Bri said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”
I got down on the ground. Sadie came over to me and tried to crawl in my lap, trembling the whole time and dry heaving. I didn’t know if she was going to throw up again so I directed her head away from me. Apparently she took that as a sign that I didn’t want her near me, so she wobbled back over to Bri.
Sadie knew something was wrong. It was obvious she was incredibly scared and just wanted to be held by her mommy and daddy. All we could do at the moment was hold her as best we could and try to keep her calm.
It wasn’t long before we were looking up emergency pet clinics in the area. While the call was being made, Sadie took a turn for the worse. Her trembling completely took over. She was no longer able to stand up on her own. So we laid her in the grass. Then… all of a sudden… Sadie had diarrhea.
There our poor pup was… laying there helpless in the grass still shaking, having uncontrollable diarrhea, and now foam was forming around the edges of her mouth. I was definitely scared, but I was really looking on in shock, not really able to get a handle on the reality of the situation.
Then we got the news that the vet on call could meet us in 15 minutes. So we grabbed some blankets and scooped Sadie up and promptly got in the Jeep. My sister came with us to give me directions. Bri sat in the back with our poor little girl.
Now in route to the vet, my confidence was boosted knowing that Sadie would be in right hands soon. Unfortunately, Sadie’s diarrhea and foaming was getting worse along the way.
Having finally arrived at the vet, we rushed her in. What happened next took me aback. After just one second of looking at Sadie, the vet quickly turned to the assisting nurse and sternly told her to bring a host of things as quickly as possible. From her tone, I knew Sadie was now in the fight for her life.
She quickly got to work on Sadie giving her oxygen and injecting her with all kinds of drugs. She told us that Sadie was in a full-on seizure (which apparently had started since we laid her in the grass back at the house).
She began asking us all kinds of questions about what we had done that day, what kind of meds she used, what kind of food she ate, etc. We began retracing our steps from the day and the only mystery was the 1 minute she was out of our sight in the woods.
The vet said that if Sadie had eaten something toxic, she would have to have had a lot of it for her condition to be as bad as it was. But there honestly wasn’t enough time for her to do that, even when we didn’t have our eyes on her (though it was still the likeliest of possible explanations).
My sister called back home to her husband asking if there was anything he or his dad put out on “The Farm” that was potentially deadly to dogs. No success there…
We were all stumped. We had no idea what it was that caused Sadie to vomit, have diarrhea, foaming at the mouth, and seizures. And what made things worse was the fact that Sadie’s seizures hadn’t stopped yet despite the vet’s best “go-to tricks.”
I got on the phone with our vet at home and recounted the situation with her. She then offered to talk to the vet on call where we were. After 2 or 3 minutes, the vet gave me back my phone and my vet assured me that they were both on the same page with what to do for our pup and that all the decisions we had made so far were all the right ones.
That made me feel a little better… but not for too long…
As we sat there looking at Sadie, I couldn’t help but think that this was going to be my last few moments with my dog; watching her laying there virtually lifeless, fighting for her life. Bri had been crying off and on for a while at this point. I, however, finally broke down and wept for our pup.
After some time and a lot of medicine, we decided that if Sadie were to have a chance, she would need to stay at the clinic overnight with the vet. So the nurse moved Sadie to a kennel that they had rigged for an oxygen feed.
As they placed her in, they suggested we say our goodbyes. The nurse was still busy working, so it became a rather awkward situation trying to maneuver around her to get to Sadie. But I did manage to touch her back paw one last time and under my breath I barely managed to say “goodbye.”
We went back with the expectation that the vet would give us a call when something changed.
That night was rough. I think this whole fiasco began with me being fairly confident that this was just some weird sickness Sadie would get through and Bri was afraid of losing her. Now, lying in bed, it seemed that our roles had been reversed. I was sure she was gone… and I cried through the night… a lot.
Then morning came. My phone rang. It was the vet. Answering it, I was honestly going to be surprised if we still had a dog. The voice on the other end said, “I’m sorry, but she didn’t make it through the night.”
Bri woke with me when the phone rang. From her perspective all she heard was, “Hello… oh no…” She began crying and hitting the pillow saying, “But we just got her! Why? We just got her!”
To top this all off, it was like 6:30 in the morning when we got the call, well before anyone else in the house was awake. We did our best to comfort each other while trying to be respectful of everyone else. I used the quiet of the morning to update the world on Facebook of the situation. The response by all was amazing!
My sister was the first to wake. I thought I could keep my composure when I saw her… I couldn’t…
She felt so incredibly bad for us. She and her husband, both. And they were so good to us during our time of loss. They even graciously helped us pay the vet bill. I doubt there could have been anyone better for us to be around during this time.
Unfortunately, the clinic wasn’t going to be open again until 1:00 pm that afternoon, so we had to wait around all day just to go back and finalize everything. That didn’t help the situation very much.
Well, the day went on and we finally went back to the clinic where we spoke briefly with the vet. It was obvious she did everything she knew to do and she was completely stumped with the results. She said she had seen dogs in much worse conditions make it through. Why Sadie didn’t was (and still is) a mystery.
After that we went to the back to see her body one last time. And there she was… lying there looking quite peaceful. It was bittersweet to say the least. Our sweet puppy whom we only had for 2 ½ months was gone. And to make it worse, she probably wasn’t much older than a year herself. It didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t make sense.
The long, rainy ride home was quiet… and lonely…
It was exceedingly difficult to look in the rearview mirror on the way back. Every time I did I saw an empty dog crate filled with toys and food for a dog that was no longer there. It made me feel sad… and confused… and angry…
When we finally got home we entered through the front door, and for the first time since Sadie showed signs of sickness Bri and I both broke down crying at the same time. And we just held each other weeping in our kitchen.
So what happened? I wish we could tell you. We never got answers. All we know is that we had the sweetest little girl-pup in the world and that she suddenly died when she was still just a babe. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.
So what did we learn from all this? Well… a number of things…
First, we discovered that we are hardcore dog people. Before Sadie, we liked dogs. After Sadie, we loved dogs.
Second, we learned that we have what it takes to be a puppy parents. As mentioned in a previous post, Sadie had all kinds of issues, but we took them all in stride. The vet even told us she could tell how good we are with dogs and to not let this incident stop us from adopting again.
Third (and most important, so don’t miss this!), despite our best efforts and despite our vets’ very best efforts, Sadie still died. Sometimes your very best isn’t enough. Bad things still happen.
But why? I mean, it’s pretty clear to all that this is a messed up world we live in. Things don’t always happen the way we want them to, or when we want them to. Life is a struggle. I doubt anyone would deny that. Sadie’s death was just further evidence of this.
So why? Well, we believe the answer is found in the explanation of one word: sin. The problem is sin.
The Bible says that God created everything, and that everything was good (very good, in fact!). Everything was in a state of peace and wholeness. The Hebrew word that describes this condition is shalom.
I think at times it’s easier for us to recognize when things are not in a state of shalom rather than when they are. For us, losing Sadie left a void in our lives. Before her death we were in a state of shalom, a state of wholeness. After she died, it was clear to us that something was broken. Our family was no longer whole.
The Bible also says that humans are made in the image of God. We are God’s special creation that bear certain marks which reflect His awesomeness and goodness in this world. We are beings with moral, rational, creational (if that’s a word), relational, emotional, and spiritual capacities.
As God’s special image-bearers, we also have the ability to make choices freely. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were instructed to do and not to do certain things (and to take away the option to disobey is also to genuinely take away their capacity to make a decision). Unfortunately, they chose to disobey and as a result sin entered the world. And sin has been plaguing us ever since!
Sin, simply put, is when we make ourselves or something else the deepest objects of our affections rather than the good and holy God whom made us. We were not made to worship ourselves, we were made for God and to honor Him. To do anything else is to do something we weren’t meant to do. And thus sin enters the equation and breaks down the shalom that once was.
And sin has affected everything! It has brought about war, natural disasters, hunger, divorce, rape, abuse, disease, and ultimately death.
The Bible says that we are all guilty of sin and that we deserve death as a result. There is no way around it. Payment for sin must be met, and death is the only acceptable form of payment. That is what justice demands!
But God is well aware of our guilt of sin. He is well aware of the payment for sin. And unless something is done about it, God is well aware that His special image-bearers will perish forever apart from Him because of sin.
Thankfully, this is where the good news comes in!
The same God who created everything did not stand idly by. He sought out sinners in the person of Jesus Christ (God in flesh). He lived a perfect, sinless life. In so doing, He made himself the only acceptable, unblemished sacrifice for sin. Mocked, beaten, and naked, Jesus was nailed to a cross where, after hours of extreme pain, He died. His death paid the debt of sin we owe God.
At the cross, God showed Himself to be both just and merciful at the same time. Sin was paid for, but not by those who should have paid it.
Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb, but 3 days later He rose from the dead! This sealed the deal making Jesus the victor not just over sin through His death but over death itself when He rose from the grave!
As a result, all God asks of us is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead in order that we might be rescued from the punishment of sin. We must confess our sins to Him and seek His forgiveness which is available to us through the cross. We must turn away from our sins so that we may once again experience the shalom in our relationship with God.
If you haven’t done this, or have questions about this, seek us out! This good news is the reason why we do what we do every day!
So the bottom line is this: sin is very evident in our world. We all know things could be better. We all know we ourselves could be better. But sin won’t allow us to be. It only leads to death. Thankfully, God has done something about sin (and will one day ultimately do away with it in the end!) and we can be a part of that story.
Our God is so good! Even in the face of brokenness and loss, we know our God cares and will work all things (both good and bad) for our good if we love Him and live for Him.
The death of Sadie was a huge shock to us, but the death of Jesus has affected us all the more. It reminds us of our sinfulness and our need for a savior. Jesus is that Savior! I hope you’ll trust Him as we have, even in your darkest times.