Let Sleeping Dogs Lie…Take Barking Ones to Daycare!


Sadie and I sold our house. The packing, scavenging for boxes, sales, and decisions seemed like they would never end, but they did and there we were alone in a big empty house the night before the closing. We used the foam mattress topper and the comforters and bedding that we weren’t taking with us to make a little nest for sleeping on the floor of the empty and now cavernous master bedroom. This was the first house I ever owned all by myself…the place Sadie came to live with me and made it a home…the memories were endless. We curled up on the floor, set the lone remaining television on timer, and went to sleep for the last time in our home.
In the morning, we gathered up our bed and threw it away, made the final cup of coffee, and walked together to the closing. It seemed appropriate that Sadie go along, although I was disappointed that her paw print was not required on the official sale documents, she was nonetheless a necessary party to the transaction.
Fast forward to our new residence…a tiny furnished condominium in a complex of many…a balcony overlooking a big pool that will do us no good as dogs aren’t allowed to swim in it, and in the middle of the miniature living room…Sadie’s pennie where she’s always stayed quietly…waiting for me to come home for lunch and then back at the end of the day. It seems though, that more had changed than our location, Sadie was no longer happy in her familiar crate in new surroundings with strange new noises and she wanted to be heard on this matter.
And heard she was…by the neighbors on both sides, the residents above and below, the people on adjoining balconies and those across the courtyard as well as the swimmers in the pool. This most quiet dog, who has never been asked to leave any number of luxury hotels due to even the slightest noise infraction was receiving nasty voicemail messages and threatening notes under the door! The President of the Condo Association once resided in a federal prison so when he said he would “have this dog removed by one of his associates” we were scared.
After determining that the chances of taking Sadie to work with me every day were slim, we searched the Yellow Pages for a suitable Dog Day Care facility and to our incredible luck discovered Camp Critter Creek. Patty Schal has created a sanctuary for animals to stay when you can’t care for them yourself. It was an incredible solution for me and Sadie. Patty and crew operate the day care, boarding, and grooming facility at a lovely location just outside of Charleston.
I called and made arrangements for a tour of Camp Critter Creek. I new almost immediately that this was a place where my little sweet dog could stay until I could make other plans. It was clean…it was bright…and Patty was wearing a LIFE IS GOOD T-shirt…one of our favorites! There were relaxed animals lounging about the office…Patty’s personal menagerie…and a walk through the boarding facilities only confirmed my initial impression…this was a place that my dog would be safe…where she could bark if she wanted…where she wouldn’t be lonely…where she would be treated with love and kindness while I was at work. I made arrangements to take Sadie to the Camp on my way to work and pick her up on my way back. I told her it was just “temporary” as Mom would soon have a new house for her and everything would be the same.
Despite this we were nervous as we packed her tote bag and I was sad, as we left the condo the next morning, but Sadie was overjoyed not to be left behind … scary noises plus a strange environment equated loneliness and fear and what other way for a dog to express this than by barking I did a lot of thinking that first morning as we drove out to the Camp.. What kind of Mom was I to sell Sadie’s house…had I let a good offer overcome my good sense as to what was best for Sadie? How could I manage working fulltime and find time to take a dog to day care every day? What would I do at lunchtime without Sadie to get out and walk and share my lunch hour with?
We arrived and Sadie, though always reluctant to leave me, went off with her caregiver and I went to work…feeling that I’d let her down. At the end of the day, she was her usual self; eager to see me and we bounded out the door and went home hoping the evening would last longer than possible.
I always want to fix things…make them perfect and felt compelled to replace the house and get a place for Sadie where she could stay as before…in her own little world…A TV with Animal Planet on as her company…waiting for me to come home for lunch…waiting for me to come home from work or shopping. So when a house in our neighborhood became available I leaped at the chance and agreed to pay an exorbitant amount of rent because I felt I must correct my wrong move.
The endless moving began again…from the condo to the house…from the storage area to the house…buying new furniture…arranging the pennie in the perfect location with the TV in the basement….and at last showing it to Sadie. I was so proud to have almost duplicated her former surroundings with the new washer and dryer…the treadmill in the same place…the same bed in her pennie. She sniffed it…looked at me…wagged her tail weakly…and went upstairs.
Seems I should have been paying more attention on those morning drop-offs at Camp Critter Creek because something wonderful and quite unexpected had happened as we made out way to the little dog refuge by the creek each morning. Sadie’s whines weren’t in despair at leaving me…they were excitement and eagerness to enter the building. It seems Sadie liked spending her days in the company of dogs and people who like them…her Mom’s perfectionism and need to hang on were needless. Sadie was saying a lot to me by her nonchalance with duplicate house. Things with her were just fine with the new arrangements…she liked the cats at the Camp…she liked the little creatures in the big cage she ran to check out each morning…she was content to run out in the yard for her exercise and get treats…and she wasn’t lonely.
It was time to move on…forget our old big house…stay in the condo…big houses don’t solve things…it takes a bigger heart to live in a smaller place.
Yep, we moved a second time…put things back in storage…wore ourselves out, but the lesson learned was worth it. Sadie and I don’t walk by our old house with longing anymore and I quit crying when I look at it standing silent and dark. People can learn a lot about life and living it from dogs. Change is inevitable and necessary for growth, but it can’t happen while we hang on to the past…time to let go…make new friends…make the best of the moment…they don’t last forever.
So if you see a beautiful dog sitting happily in the passenger seat of a convertible one of these summer mornings in Charleston…its just me and Sadie…going to our day jobs…loving every minute of it.