“We have a retriever who needs to be retired. Can you help?” That was the note we received from our local animal shelter letting us know that Sadie needed to be rescued. She had been picked up as a stray in a grocery store parking lot, had no collar, tags or microchip, and no one ever came to claim her. She quickly became a favorite of the shelter staff and they told us she was just as sweet as she looked in her photo. We said, yes, we can help.
We posted Sadie’s picture on Facebook in the hopes of finding a foster home and, just a few hours later, we received an email from a couple offering to help. Hillary and Daniel and their 6-year old yellow lab, Hailey, who they rescued from another local shelter, said they would be more than happy to foster Sadie.
When we picked Sadie up from the shelter, our first stop was the McDonald’s drive-thru. We don’t typically feed our dogs fast food but after being on her own and then spending the week at animal control, Sadie deserved to be spoiled a bit. We don’t remember where we first heard about this practice among animal rescuers, but treating our dogs to a “freedom burger” when they leave the shelter has become a regular part of the Retired Retrievers rescue protocol. Sadie had no complaints about the extra stop on the way home.
When we showed up at Hillary and Daniel’s house to meet them and to let the dogs meet each other, we immediately knew why Sadie’s picture had inspired them to reach out and offer to help: their dog Hailey looks just like Sadie! She could be Sadie’s younger sister. The dogs got along great and we could tell they were wonderful people, so we left Sadie there to settle in. As the pictures started arriving of Sadie napping on the couch (which Hailey taught her to do) and having Saturday morning snuggle time in bed, we knew this foster home would be a great fit for her while we looked for a forever home.
A week or so later, we received an email with the subject line, “Adoptable Dog?” It was from a man named Al and he said that he and his wife, Jane, lived in a nearby retirement community and had recently lost their 11 1/2 year old yellow lab, Allie, to cancer. As they navigated the grieving process they were exploring the idea of potentially adopting another Lab. He said they had been married for 60 years and dogs had always been an important part of their family life. We thought about the different dogs we had available at the time and Sadie seemed like she might be a good fit, so we responded to Al with a few pictures and some information about Sadie.
That was the start of a few confusing emails back and forth as they told us that Sadie looked just like their Allie, but they referred to Sadie as a “him” asked if he was still in Atlanta. It took some thinking and then all of a sudden the lightbulb went on. Several weeks back, a woman named Amy had emailed us to say that she was coming to town to visit her parents, who had recently lost their yellow lab. She didn’t know if they were ready to adopt yet but she had seen George online and was wondering if he was still available. We never ended up meeting Amy or her parents because they decided they weren’t ready to adopt yet (and then George’s foster family decided to adopt him anyway), but we realized they were looking at Sadie’s pictures and talking about George because George is the dog their daughter had told them about. Ohhh…okay, you’re Amy’s parents.
Once we cleared that up, they told us a bit more about themselves and we told them a bit more about Sadie, and then we all decided we should meet. So we brought Sadie over for a visit and we’re pretty sure it was love at first sight both for Al and Jane as well as for Sadie. A few days later she went back to start a trial visit, which quickly resulted in an adoption, and she’s been there ever since.
We could not have asked for a better fit for this wonderful dog who needed a loving home and this loving home that needed a wonderful dog. The first time we met Al and Jane we could see how much love they had to give and just how raw the pain still was from losing their Allie. And although we never met Allie, from what they’ve told us about her we can see that out of all of the dogs we’ve ever helped, Sadie is the one most like her. As for Sadie, all she wants to do is love and be loved, and she’s definitely getting that in her new home. This was one of those ‘meant to be’ situations that we hope to find for every dog. We could go on and on about this wonderful couple and their wonderful dog, but we’ll let you hear from them instead.
Here is a recent update from Al in his own words:
“Sadie has melded into our lives so seamlessly it’s almost as if Allie never left us. Big reason for this is the similarity in temperament with one difference being that Allie tended a little more to be my dog while Sadie has latched on to Jane which pleases me greatly.
We bought Allie as a puppy. She was the runt of the litter and the only one left. Nobody else wanted her which somehow had its own peculiar appeal, likewise for Sadie. And yes, the breeder was a Mennonite dairy farmer in north Georgia which also factored in because my first lab was purchased from a Wisconsin dairy farmer fifty years ago. (Side story: asking price was one hundred dollars. My brother, who I was visiting, said “tomorrow I’ll come down in my overalls and get him for twenty five” and so he did.)
Allie was a healthy dog all her life though she carried several benign lumps from early on. Her third surgical removal showed what I was told was a contained malignancy. It wasn’t and even with chemo it spread quickly. She was gone in six months at eleven and a half years. Her loss was traumatic for both of us. She had become our child. I said never again, she’s our last dog and irreplaceable, even parrying Amy’s suggestion we think about Retired Retrievers. That lasted about six weeks until one day, implausibly, I found myself tapping out an email to you.
MY favorite thing about Sadie is that she has more than replaced Allie in Jane’s life. Sadie shows and receives affection endlessly and Jane is up to her part of the bargain. For BOTH of us she is an easy keeper, perfectly suited to our age and lifestyle who asks for nothing but to be fed, watered, toileted and petted. Even asking to be let out she’s polite and patient merely standing in front of me with a “look.” As I demonstrated to you she goes in the marsh. It has gotten even better for me. There is now a bench out there so I go out and sit. When finished she comes bounding back to me for her treat. Doesn’t get much better than that for an old guy.”
Al, we’re pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that for an old dog, either.