Sally, as some of you may remember, was a Shetland Sheepdog we rescued back in July of 2009, and who had suffered more than any dog should need to suffer.
When we first got her, we were of course aware of her terrible and violent history and were not surprised to see her hide, cower, and shake incessantly. Over days, she realized we were not going to hurt her, and she started to become curious about her new home. We discovered she did not know how to walk up or down stairs, had no idea how doors worked, never ate warm or cooked food, and suffered from terrible nightmares.
In time, as we hoped, she seemed to get over the nightmares and became glued to the boys. We started to include her on short vacations, trips to the archery range, countless hikes, and family gatherings. In 2012, the Цесаревич wrote a story for a contest in the local Muscovy paper about why he thinks his dog is special. He wrote that she watched her puppies drown in a flood, and cried whenever it rained, and runs to each of the boys whenever the weather gets bad to make sure they are safe and sitting on something high up. And that despite all that, she has become quite a good dog and even though there’s so much wrong with her, it cannot take away all that was right with her.
He went for the sad angle, and of course the judges loved it. He won the contest, and the grand prize was a parade for her in her honor. She got to walk with him up front, just behind the American flag (which was carried by the Царевич in full Cub Scout uniform). The three of them, bedecked in red, white, and blue, led a parade of a couple hundred people and their pets. The turnout for the even was far more than Muscovy expected, and they received numerous requests from people wanting to open vendor booths next year. The Village awarded Sally not just with a parade, but lots of prizes and gifts including a free portrait session by a professional photographer. We have those portraits hung up all over the house.
Since then, Sally was featured on the cover of a local magazine based on that original essay, with lavish color photographs by the same photographer of her posing in front of the house. The photographer recommended the photo story for the magazine. She seemed to get this was something special, although Sally obviously had no idea what: just that people were coming over to see her.
A canine fitness franchise contacted us, based on the magazine article, and asked if they could use Sally for a local promotion. We agreed, and she had a wonderful time with the other dogs. The franchise then featured her in demonstrations, videos, and commercials. She has since appeared on local and national television based on her appearances in those how-to-exercise-with-your-pet videos. One good thing always led to something better with this dog. All this in less than two years!
Two weeks ago, Sally stopped eating. We ignored it, as sometimes dogs go through periods where they just don’t like the food. After two days, we took her to the vet. He could find nothing wrong on a cursory exam, so we tried different food.
Some days she ate; most days she did not. She began to lose weight. On Saturday, we took her for an X-ray: a mass was discovered in her large intestine. An ultrasound on Monday confirmed the presence of a large mass causing her pain. Exploratory surgery today revealed a six-inch tumor that basically was shutting her down. The vet called at once and said it was technically inoperable.
We said our good byes moments later: she remained under anesthesia the entire time, but the boys are convinced she heard them cry their last farewells. The Цесаревич thanked her for all the adventures and parades and television interviews. The Царевич reminded her that she needed to be a good dog, now more than ever. The Царица said Sally finally didn’t need to be scared anymore.
The Czar? Well. We believe this was a dog worth saving. We will receive many comments from our community, who regarded her as a minor but vital celebrity, and the Czar will be satisfied to say that to anyone. She was a good dog. A very good dog. And maybe we only got five years to spend with her, but it was five years that she could learn that life was really good to her more often than not. She deserved more of it than she wound up receiving, but we did our best.
And we will miss her.