It's been two years now since Mandy, the very young mongrel dog I had raised from a puppy, was hit by a car and killed.
She had spent nights with me in my cabin; we had bonded. She had just gotten over her puppy ways and stopped chewing on shoes and woodwork. She was finally coming to me when I called her. When Cliff and I went on walks, or were working outside, Mandy stayed nearby, glad for our company.
Then, just like that, she was gone.
I don't know when I've cried that much.
Cliff wanted to stop the crying, and insisted we go to a shelter and find another dog. I told him that's the wrong thing to do, that you are never supposed to choose a new pet while you're grieving for the old one. He was insistent, and I couldn't help thinking about how cute a puppy can be. I remembered how much fun Mandy was, as a puppy. So I agreed to go dog-shopping.
We went to Wayside Waifs on a Saturday, and there was quite a crowd there waiting to adopt pets. I told the lady at the front desk I wanted to see puppies; she said, "Oh, I've been fostering some half-Chows that will be ready next weekend; you need to see them!"
When our turn came to look at available dogs, a lady directed us to a large room with caged dogs. We walked up and down the aisles looking for puppies. Before we'd found any babies, though, we passed a cage containing a medium-sized dog who, when we paused beside her, rubbed against the confining bars as though trying to get closer to us.
Continuing through the rest of the area, we did find some puppies... very cute ones. Cliff asked what I thought, and I said, "I want to go back and look at that one dog, the one that acted like she wanted to get out of her cage."
We went back. Then we checked out puppies again. Then returned to that one dog I couldn't get out of my mind; that's when I asked someone if we could get a little closer look at the dog.
A lady opened the cage, snapped a leash onto the little female, and led her to a little room, with us following. The door was shut and the dog was released. All she wanted to do was rub against our legs and whine; she seemed so happy to have somebody petting her.
The lady got tears in her eyes.
This was on that dog's cage that day:
She's no more Manchester than I am; I'd be willing to bet that she has at least four breeds in her background, but I wouldn't venture a guess on what those breeds are. I changed her name to Sadie. I've never turned her loose to run the neighborhood as I did Mandy, because I can't stand another untimely death.
I do, however, turn her loose in the pasture when Cliff and I walk. She happily carries a stick around, insisting we take it from her and throw it sometimes.
According to the experts, I went looking for another dog too soon.
But I think Sadie was meant to live here, all along.
Even Cliff loves her (but don't tell him I said so).