One recent evening I reviewed what had taken place in the preceding hours. Doing so brought to mind something we tend to overlook. Children are never too young to teach adults a lesson.
I had called the veterinarian’s office early in the morning to make an appointment to take in our dog, Sadie. I was told that the doctor was booked for the entire day and couldn’t see her until the following morning. I explained to the receptionist that I really didn’t want Sadie to have to wait that long, and asked her to recommend another veterinarian if she could. She told me another office to try, which I did.
I telephoned that office and was advised they could see her at 4 o’clock that afternoon. I was asked the reason for the visit. I told her that Sadie had fallen down the stairs the weekend before. She was now having trouble getting around, and was acting as though something was hurting her.
Sadie’s instincts for mothering have been as profound for our grandchildren as they were for her own puppies. At the very sound of their voices, her ears perk up and, honestly, her eyes shine with anticipation and eagerness. Two of my grandchildren came to spend the weekend. In her haste to greet them when they came in the door, she lost her footing and tumbled downstairs. I didn’t see her fall, but my daughter and two grandchildren were there. My daughter said that Sadie just got up and shook herself, then went the rest of the way down the stairs to offer her usual loving licks to the kids.
Sadie had shown no sign that the fall had injured her. It wasn’t until a couple of days after they left that I noticed she wasn’t moving as quickly as usual. By Thursday of that week I became concerned. At night she always follows me upstairs to sleep by the bed, but that night she wouldn’t, or couldn’t, come when I called, “Time for bed, Sadie.”
Bending down to pat her gently, I said, “I will take you to the doctor tomorrow before the kids get here.” The following weekend my son and his family were coming.
The next morning when I went down stairs, I was surprised, because Sadie seemed to be back to her old self, scratching my leg for a dog biscuit. “Perhaps, old girl, you just needed some time to get over your fall. You seem to be okay today!” Sighing with relief that Sadie had improved, I went about cleaning and getting ready for our company.
When the doorbell rang, just as she had when my daughter and the kids arrived, Sadie ran to greet them. The kids love Sadie and she loves them.
That Sunday evening after they left, Sadie refused again to climb the stairs. Scolding myself for not taking her on Friday, I vowed to take her the next day.
The doctor examined her and said he didn’t think she had any broken bones, but wanted to x-ray her. They revealed injury to the lower disc in her spine and showed that her heart is enlarged. Also she has the beginning of cataracts. The doctor also told me something I already knew. Sadie is overweight. Yet the news was good, the injury will heal.
If she loses weight, her heart will be healthier, and he gave me drops for her eyes. There was something else though; she is showing signs of aging.
In my heart I know that someday Sadie will leave us. Meanwhile she is on her diet and taking her medication. Already she has shown signs of improvement. Yet, I must face the fact that the day will come when Sadie will no longer be there to climb the stairs. Oh, how I dread that day.
I pushed the thought from my mind, but a question lingered. How will I tell my grandchildren?
It was then that I remembered the remarkable quality children have of taking life as it comes, and recalled a young child’s response when the family pet died: “Everybody is born so they can learn how to live a good life, like loving everybody and being nice. Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”