Dalton General Store Dog Passes Away at age 17

Sam at Dalton's
Sam at Dalton’s

Dalton’s General Store has been closed for about a year, and no doubt what most patrons miss most is seeing Sam, the dog who greeted customers for most of the last 17 years.

Sam was born just down the road from Dalton’s Store. One of a litter of coon hounds destined to be hunters, Sam was overlooked and not taken on the early morning training hunts with the other puppies. He’d follow the truck down the road, catching up just as the men and dogs were leaving the store. Who knows what made him decide to stay, but Sam made a career of greeting customers at the little general store.

Sam had a bed at the store and loved the treats people began bringing him. He wanted for nothing as he was so well loved that people donated money for his vet care, brought him food and anything else a he needed.

I met Sam at Dalton’s in the fall of 2011. He intrigued me and I knew he had a story to tell; I just had to find the human who could tell this dog’s story. Don Tessneer of Tessneer Farms knew all about Sam and his life at the Dalton Store. Don’s Dad and his son Donnie also shared a love of Sam and cared for him.

It was from the Tessneer’s I learned of Sam’s career as the Dalton Store Greeter. He’d appear there in the morning, and return to one the Tessneer’s homes at night. He loved getting into his bed on Don’s back porch and being covered with a blanket. I wrote about Sam for AOL’s popular pet website, Paw Nation. The story was hugely popular, getting over two million clicks within the first few weeks it was posted. Over the years the store changed ownership and sometimes was closed, but Sam would always be there for the re-opening and the new owner.

An artist from Michigan read my story and travelled to Lake Lure to meet Sam and see Dalton’s Store. She created a beautiful painting that realistically depicts Sam at the store in his relaxed mode waiting to greet the next customer.

Everyone that visited the store had a kind word or a pat on the head for this friendly dog. He was unique and a good example for people whose life didn’t work out the way they’d hoped. Sam bloomed where he was planted and blossomed in doing so. He had a curious air about him as if to ask you “What are you coming to the store for today?” He was a handsome and approachable dog, well suited for the role he chose. People loved him and as word spread about the Dalton Store dog, so did the number of visitors to meet Sam.
In 2012 when I came back to see Sam at Dalton’s he wasn’t feeling well. Huddled in his bed he seemed ill at ease if not in some pain. I brought him some warm ground sirloin and fed it to him. I didn’t make it to Lark Lure in 2013, but Don reported that Sam was doing well and had recovered. Last year, I returned to find Dalton’s closed and walked around the lot with my own dog Sadie remembering our first meeting with Sam.

When the store closed, Sam retired. He went to live in a lovely kennel at the Tessneers. I met Don there and had a great visit with Sam. We fed him Thanksgiving leftovers and he was wanting more after he quickly ate them. I couldn’t believe he was 16 years old; he moved without hesitation and clearly liked having visitors.

On Monday, June 15, 2015 I learned that Sam had passed away or as we dog lovers like to say, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I was so sad to hear this, but through my tears I realized that it was time for Sam to move on. Grateful that he didn’t suffer, didn’t spend weeks or months in pain or unable to walk, I knew I had to write my last story about Sam…his obituary.

In his book, Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein writes about Enzo, a beloved Golden Retriever who had keen insight when it came to people. Enzo believed that if a dog was buried high in the Himalayan Mountains, close to God, and he wanted it badly enough…a dog could come back as a man. To me, Sam was a person with four legs and a tail, but if ever a dog wanted to come back as a person, I believe he could do it.

Sam’s resting place however is not in the Himalayas, but in Rutherford County where he was born, lived all his 119 human equivalent years, and whose spirit I believe will always be at the store he loved so much. Sam was buried in his bed, wrapped in his blanket, on the Tessneer Farm, the place he came home to after a day at his job. I think Sam is probably already a greeter at the Rainbow Bridge and was greeted himself with words of welcome and approval. I believe he was told, “Welcome, my good and loyal dog. Well done.”

As I visited with Sam and Don last fall, I got to hold him and sit with him as I listened to stories about him from Don. I have a video from that day and I didn’t remember saying it, but nothing was more true…”Sam is everybody’s dog.” Not a bad accomplishment for a puppy who wasn’t considered good enough to be a hunting dog. He will be missed and he will be remembered.

SAM…Everybody’s Dog

Sam waiting to greet customers at the Store.
Sam waiting to greet customers at the Store.

Sam, the dog who greeted customers at the Dalton General Store for many years, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 15, 2015. Sam was one of a litter of puppies born to a Redbone Coonhound in 1998. Sam was 17 years old, a remarkable age for a large dog, but Sam was a remarkable dog.

Loved by many who met him at the Dalton Store over the years, Sam was a sweet boy who lived out the days of his life at the store and on the Tessneer Farm. He had many loyal friends who over the years brought him gifts, provided money for vet care, and came to the store just to see him. Sam was buried on the Tessneer Farm, in Rutherford County where he lived his entire life.

Donations may be made in remembrance of Sam to an animal charity of your choice or to PAWS of Rutherford County.

PO BOX 399
Lake Lure, NC 28746

PAWS is a 501 (3)(c)



I don’t read newspaper editorials because they’re usually boring political issues. I do though have a habit of buying local newspapers wherever I am, and when Sadie and I were in the Smokey Mountains working on our book, I read an editorial because the title, “Goodbye Old Friend” caught my attention and when I saw that it was about a dog…I read on.

The editor of this rural mountain newspaper had left New Orleans 15 years previously to take a lowly job at a place she’d never heard of. She put everything she owned in her car, and was leaving town when fate stepped in disguised as a lost puppy that ran into the side of her car. She brought her car to an abrupt stop and jumped out to scoop up the tiny dog and began looking around for a possible owner. As the puppy snuggled against her, grateful and safe she looked into his eyes and said…”Oh what the heck,” put him in the car and continued.

Fast forward to the weekend before I read the story…this dog who had been with the editor for 15 years…waited on the porch for her return from the paper each day…hiked the mountains with her…shared her new life…had died. I looked at my dog Sadie in disbelief…as a new dog Mom, I had no idea she would most likely die before me. I saw us growing old together…never could I imagine my life without her now. The editorial said that since one dog year supposedly equals seven people years, the editor’s dog was about 105…a long life for a dog or a person, but it hit me hard…one day Sadie wouldn’t be here. That’s when I decided to live my life on Dog Time.

Dog Time is living in the moment…allowing yourself to savor, enjoy, and appreciate the moments in your life…before they turn into years…dog years or otherwise. I learned to do this from watching Sadie and you can learn this from your dog too. It’s your ticket our of the fast paced, stressed out, human being time world. Sadie lives in the moment…all day long…it doesn’t matter what she’s doing…it’s her moment and she enjoys it. It all starts when she opens her eyes.

I used to silence the morning alarm numerous times attempting to delay the start of my day. Not so after Sadie came to share the king sized bed with me. “Morning Moments” start the minute I open my eyes and see bright brown eyes staring at me and hear her tail thumping on the mattress. She scootches up to my face and with an eagerness I can’t deny, our day begins. Sadie stretches…I stretch…we go downstairs and out the side door. Sadie stops and surveys each aspect of the yard…and her day of mindfulness begins.

Mindfulness is a great way to live…it simply means you give attention to the moment and place you are in. Sadie revels in her surroundings…she sniffs the air…has something bloomed during the night? Is the wind blowing her fur…are the birds at the feeder? After however many seconds it takes her to assess the new day…she goes off the porch for a run around the yard…maybe a squirrel chase…perhaps a sniff at the fence trying to determine if Mr. Raccoon slipped under it last night. I sip my coffee and breathe deeply…thus are our morning mindful moments….the ones I save in my mind and return to during my hectic people time day.

Dogs know how to live in the moment and are attentive to what they are doing because they don’t multitask. Humans like combining tasks…driving…talking on cell phone…eating…listening to radio. Or watching television…reading the newspaper while folding clothes and polishing nails. What’s our hurry?

When Sadie eats…she doesn’t do anything else. She chews her food while she scans her bowl looking for her next bite…when she drinks water she does it with gusto and when she sleeps…she is relaxed and at peace. Well…sometimes even Sadie has dreams…and in those dreams I think she re-lives the moments from her day. When she plays with her toys or runs after the ball…she does it with her whole being…living in the moment…each moment with her is precious…they are ticking by at seven times the speed of the clock.

Mindful moments…magic moments…sitting on the couch…feeling the stress of the day go away as I stroke my sweet dog’s fur…seven seconds to her one…slow down…a magic moment as we watch the sun set over our fence…a magic moment when the rain falls on us with the convertible top down and I laugh as Sadie hunkers on the floor reluctant to get wet…magic moments watching the birds…planting a flower…going through McDonald’s for a hamburger.

Driving back from Pittsburgh this past fall, having just left the bedside of a critically ill sister, it was the comfort of my dog in the silent moments of the dark car that eased my worries. At the hospital I was the person getting things done…making arrangements…assuring everyone that it would be ok. But in the company of only Sadie, I could confess…I was scared…I was tired…I needed the reassurance I was quick to hand out…a split second tragedy had brought my family to this moment…but I was comforted in dog years by Sadie. Our time difference was reversed… one moment of her time was like seven for me…soothing…peaceful…needed.

Seven years to our one…it makes me cherish the time I have with my dog more. One of the Ten Commandments for Dog Owners says: “Please limit your time away from me. You have your friends, your work. I have only you.” It made me see there was a lot of unnecessary time away from my dog who wouldn’t be here forever…seven minutes to our one…it adds up.
She has taught me not to tug on my leash always pulling towards the future when the present moment is more than enough. Live in the moment…follow your dog’s example…adopt her appreciation for the fleeting hours that turn into days and then into what is called your life. Live it in dog time…the best lessons for appreciating life are right before your eyes on four legs with a tail.


Sadie and I sold our large house right in the center of Charleston over a year ago now. There really was no pressing reason to do so except that I had a poster with a message that haunted me for months. The poster was a scene of an ocean sunset with the scripted words….”Sometimes it is time to depart even when there is no certain place to go.” So believing this was a sign for us to head to the coast, in a quick process and a down market, we sold the house at a decent profit to a government agency and moved into a friend’s condo temporarily.

Thus the search began to find a place that would be suitable for both Sadie and me while we decided what to do next and that was no easy task. Reading the rentals in the newspaper and checking Craig’s List became a daily obsession. Finding a vacation rental was a lot easier than this ordeal. All the pet friendly properties have a paw print next to the listing, but not so for apartment or house rentals. Overwhelmingly the notation at any decent sounding property was “NO PETS,” which I would sadly relay to Sadie.

We found an apartment complex that actually said “Pets Welcome,” and eagerly drove out to see it one Saturday. That trip was not only a waste of time as the complex was neglected and had the worst “dog park” I have ever seen, it was an eye opening disappointment. Turns out landlords have a preset notion about dog owners that includes lack of responsibility, lack of money, and lack of common sense. These landlords think they can provide substandard, over-priced properties and desperate dog parents will flock to them. Sadly, they are often right.

I have always been very disturbed when I see the reason listed for a pet being abandoned at the animal shelter as “owner moved.” What kind of person would abandon their dog in order to find a place to live? Seems many people are forced to make this very difficult decision, but I knew it would never be me. I’d find a dog house that was big enough for both Sadie and me and would not settle for an unsafe, unclean, or unfriendly abode. As with other major decisions in my life, I prayed about this and began checking the classifieds and Craig’s List in other cities….they might be more dog friendly.

We finally found a place here that was promising. It was a very nice condominium whose owner was a dog parent and immediately liked Sadie. The small condo would be perfect for us while we decided if we would stay in West Virginia or head south. It was in a great area for walking and convenient to everything. However, this building’s condo board had ridiculous rules that made it impossible for a dog to actually live there. Turns out you had to carry your dog in and out of the building and hold them in your arms on the elevator too. Now Paris Hilton and her handbag hound might be able to manage this, but not me. Sadie is a strong, wriggly; face licking, healthy 30 pounder that would never go for this kind of arrangement. Other landlords had rules that I don’t think even the dogs in The Dog Whisperer’s pack could obey.

Thus with no clear direction, we began looking for a house to buy, with the help of the best real estate agent in the world, Nadia Hardy. Yep, I had to buy another house so I could live with my dog. After wearing Nadia out with looking at many overpriced houses that lacked the mandatory basic dog amenities such as a yard, I did the unthinkable and decided to look at a house nine miles out of the city. Mind you, I had walked a block and a half to work for 13 years then operated my own practice out of my home for almost three years. Commuting seemed impossible to me as I barely made it to work on time when all I had to do was walk down the stairs.

It was a rainy November day when we made the trek out to the house that looked interesting in the listing. The open house wasn’t going to be until later hat day, but I wanted to at least see the exterior first and get Sadie’s opinion. As we drove up the long and what seemed a very steep road, my mind kept telling me this too was a waste of time and how desperate was I becoming to even consider such a plan. And then the house appeared.

It was the last house on the street…a circle driveway…looking neglected and lonely…but like a once majestic woodland retreat…it was perfect. Sadie and I bounded out of the Jeep and walked through the carport to the yard on the other side of the house. I immediately noticed it was fenced and it was huge! I let Sadie off her leash and she ran around the yard in obvious delight. I slipped and fell on the wet leaves and she jumped on my and licked my face excitedly as I said…”Mommy doesn’t even care if the house is a rat hole inside…if I can buy it for you just for this yard…I will.”

Lucky for us it was not and now it’s home and part of some plan greater than ours that has fulfilled our every need. We planted a garden, installed bird feeders, cleaned, polished, and put our familiar possessions in a new environment…but more than that….we have put down roots deeper than the large trees that surround us. When we drive up the not-so steep street every evening and open our door…we are content in this big dog house that I share with my dog-daughter and no one sets unreasonable rules or tells us our barks or music is too loud. Oh, and Sadie doesn’t have to share the city squirrels any more…she has plenty of her own to keep her busy.

And so the old poster is in the new house…the message fulfilled….and duly noted with a notation that simply says…”We did.” It was time to depart….we had no certain place to go…but through it all…we are here and we are home.

Off Course

Last week Sadie and I escaped to an island of the coast of North Carolina. We needed to rest…to reflect…to feel the sea air and let the endless sound of the ocean cover all the thoughts that run through my mind these days. I think of Liz. I think of her lying in her hospital bed…I think of where she could be had we listened to the misguided at best…but overwhelmingly incompetent doctors that said she would not live. Those doctors that thought with the flip of a switch and the injection of a drug…they would be rid of a problem patient that they did not know how to cope with. I wanted to call on the healing waters and powers of the sea for some relief for me and my family from the troubled state this has put all of us in. We live in the same world we had before August 10, 2008….but now something uninvited has become a part of that world and shows no signs of leaving.
She lives. She talks…she feels…and she hopes to one day move like she did before this cruel disease went to battle with her body and almost won. We live…we work…we wonder…if we didn’t know our sister before…how will we ever know her now?
We stand by…we can’t fight this battle for her. We know so little of the past many years of her life…years when she was at war with life on battlegrounds of unknown locations and for causes that were not part of our reality. News came to us of Liz being here…or there…with this person…maybe someone new…it was sometimes hopeful…sometimes sad…often unbelievable and sometimes maybe even true…but always, always, left everyone with a sense of depression and unsettledness. Her life was a mystery to us…to me. We knew she was out there somewhere fighting demons whose names we didn’t recognize. It seems so long ago and part of me longs for that time to come back as distressing as it often was…it seems vastly better than right now. Somewhere out there she was larger than life…but she moved and walked and functioned as a person. She was so far from helpless physically, and the emotional disabilities that sent her on these quests…they were nothing compared to being sruck down helpless.
I sit on the porch of the bach house and I wait. In our separate parts of the country We wait…her parents…her siblings. All eight of us…just like the pelicans doing a fly by in front of the beach house today. Eight pelicans in a perfect flying formation…going somewhere…a solid team. But as I watch… one pelican veers of course and takes a direction away from the formation….this pelican decides for whatever reason to abandon the group and the flight plan…this pelican goes alone. The others fly on.It reminds me of my us…the eight very different people who are a family that has been fractured. The seven of us went on years ago…Liz flew off course. Our flight plans took us to school and to establish our own family and careers. She had brief stints at these things…but nothing lasting.
Now there seems to be something permanent in her life and I pray to God that it becomes as fleeting as the many other things that came and went over the years. I search for the tiniest of signs that this disease will pack up and take all the horrible effects it brought with it in a moment of time and disappear forever.
The smaller her improvements, the greater my hope. She feeds her self with her one useful hand. Its a victory. She stands for a few seconds….its cause for celebration. I see these small steps with the highest of expectations…for her…and selfishly for our fractured family…that we have a second chance to become eight going in the same direction once more…a chance for Liz to rejoin the flying formation like the pelicans and maybe for the rest of us to understand where she went and why when she left us. ..or did we abandone her…did we fly too high and too fast for her to keep up with us? It seems we will have some time now to figure this out if figuring it out is at all possible. For today though, she is here…she is coming back…she lives.

Dogs…Diets…Dating Column October 2008

Split Second Tragedy-Comfort in Dog Years

My sister Liz is eating tropical fruit salad tonight…not in the tropics though…from a container in a refrigerator in a nursing home…a place she lives now. A place where she never planned to spend any time…a place she didn’t fill out a change of address for. She has no choice here except to rely on the comfort and care of strangers….and often that reliance brings her only frustration, disappointment, and always questions.
Tonight when she hollers loud enough to get the attention of one of the nonchalant aides milling about the nursing station…she will ask them to get the small container of tropical fruit salad out of the refrigerator in the messy kitchen behind the even more cluttered nursing station and bring it to her.
I know right where it is…that it has sections of mango and papaya and pineapple and guava and little shavings of coconut. I studied it carefully in the supermarket…it helps to concentrate on things that are small these days. I walked down the hall past people shuffling in walkers…into the stark dining room of despair….opened the half door that keeps the residents from going into the kitchen and searching for things….and put this little container of sunshine in the refrigerator…at least that’s what I hope it will be for my sister when its fed to her.
The residents search for things that aren’t in the cupboards or on the shelves inside of the refrigerator….they are searching for times lost…days that have vanished. They go to the kitchen because they forget where they are…it’s a curse and a means of survival in this place that they too must live now for whatever reason time has stolen the life they knew before.
For a few moments they are oblivious to the signs about keeping the refrigerator door closed or leaving the ice scoop in the ice machine…they don’t see the labels on all the food…they are living in their memories at the homes they have left with the people who have left them. For only a few glitches in the sequence of time …they are back.
In this house of little hope, my sister doesn’t have that memory-lapse pass to escape her present. She is if anything these days…acutely aware of what is and what is not…she just doesn’t understand what has happened and she is not alone there. We, her family do not either.
We do know however, that on August 10, 2008 our sister was struck down…pulled into an unconsciousness that defied diagnosis and understanding to those of us standing on the sidelines of her nothingness that we could not reach through. In a moment she was sucked into a coma and became a prisoner of some unseen enemy that no one had the weapons to defeat.
Each family member abandoned the paths of their own lives to travel to Liz’s bedside. Sitting on an airplane pelted by relentless rain, I flew up from the south, numb; hurtling through the night sky to a surreal world I dreaded entering. My siblings, our parents, my sister’s husband…a fractured family at best, came together in her intensive care room where the sounds of machines breathing for her…feeding her…checking for signs of life that had all but vanished…covered the grief imposed silence. Something horrible…an unexpected tragedy has happened to my family…not the usual squabble…not the miffed feelings that always abound…a deep down sad life event…that will undoubtedly change us and has immediately shamed us. When was the last time we were all in the same room together? Families shouldn’t come together only at hospitals and funeral homes. We are guilty and this remorse is very evident in our eyes and in our silence.
We are asked to do something unfathomable…remove all means of life support…and for once we come together as a functional family and we decide instead to pray. It is more with penitence than hope that we all do what we have to…watch the machines perform inexplicable tasks…feel the wind as the life flight helicopter lifts off and takes our sister away…to a destination where we have sent ahead every fiber of belief we can summon. I stand on the ground with my Mom and Sadie watching the life ship fly away until it is out of sight realizing we remain as close to her now as when we were next to her bed. Liz remains out there in oblivion while we gather ourselves together to begin a journey infinitely longer than the two hour drive ahead of us.
Like most things in life, it now seems as if this all happened in an instant, and the days have flown by like the helicopter that whisked Liz off to recovery. Now, on this day that my sweet dog Sadie and I put the tropical fruit salad in the refrigerator, we are weary, but grateful. I am thankful that the coma’s cruel grip vanished 19 days after it changed our world for what seems like seconds now…and for what will be forever for my sister.
Thank God we have our dogs in times like these…living creatures we can whisper our most horrible fears to…the best of therapy and counsel on four legs…who with the lick of tongue or a touch of their soft fur…take the worry and the tension away. I tell Sadie that while I am the person making arrangements, capable of getting necessary care for my sister, finding people that no doubt saved her life, and seeing to the things that need to be seen to…that I am frightened beyond all measure. As we drive back to Charleston, I wish this never happened, I pray that my sister will walk again, be able to use her hands, sit at a holiday dinner table with the rest of us. I don’t look for answers….its all I can do for now to put one foot in front of the other most days.
The calm and accepting presence of my Sadie girl is my lifeline. I smile in the dark of the car remembering how Sadie walked around the nursing home today…greeting each person much like she does at her book signings…taking an extra moment for a person to lean down from their walker and touch her…not minding that one woman is lost in time and thinks Sadie is her dog. It’s a different audience than Sadie is used to, but she doesn’t mind.
I am sending up a lot of prayers these days asking and thanking equally, but I thank God every day I have my dog Sadie as I know does everyone else who has experienced the love and comfort of a dog…or cat…or other living creature. Sadie keeps me going…she reminds me to live in the moments…moments that become days and days that become years and if we’re lucky….years that become memories. Looking for memories is not a good thing…making them is. Dogs are the best at this. Sadie savors her days and lets the years take care of themselves. She loves me and I need her so I can be there for those who need me.

Patti Lawson’s 37-year old sister Elizabeth was stricken with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. After 19 days in a coma, she regained consciousness thanks to the fantastic staff at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Her miraculous recovery is the result of prayer and in large part due to the efforts of Dr. Tristan Smith and Dr. Thomas Scott. She continues to struggle to regain mobility and cognitive abilities. Sadie’s visits inspire Liz and the other residents. Read more about Patti and Sadie and follow Liz’s

No Lunch….Free or Otherwise

Sadie and I have had to make a lot of changes in our routines since we sold our house. Many things we just took fro granted now take planning and compromise. Its all worked out pretty good…we live in a smaller space and now like the lack of big responsibility that goes with that. Sadie goes to a great day care and likes that…no longer a solitary dog watching Animal Planet and waiting for me to come home. However, once in a while we hit a snag and have to re-tool things…like the day she went to a vet’s because her regular day care was unavailable. That’s the day she didn’t get lunch…despite the fact that like any good Mom…I had packed one and had taken it with her.
This place…Phillips Animal Hospital had a great website. I took a tour and it seemed nice It was not like her normal place…it was not even close to being extra special, But it did appear that Sadie would be safe there for the 7 or so hours I had to leave her and work.
For the first two times, it seemed to work our. OK…Sadie was a little ticked at me each time…batting me with her paws on the way to the car as if to say..”Gee…why did you have to leave me in these inferior conditions for all this time?” But overall…it was OK.
Then came the Freaky Friday that we have not forgotten. I packed Sadie’s lunch as usual. It’s important that I make sure she isn’t fed something she’s allergic too…important so she doesn’t itch herself crazy…AND keep me up all night as well. So…her lamb and rice food along with Cowboy Cookout was mixed into a nice container and handed to the attendant who was reaching for her leash. It was simple…”Here is her food…feed her.”
Not so it seems. When I went to pick her up, I paid the bill, collected her and her tote bag, and we rushed down the boulevard homeward bound eager for DOGERCISE. I placed the tote bag on the kitchen floor and went to change clothes…but Sadie didn’t follow me into the bedroom like she usually does. She had her head buried in her tote bag and no wonder…her container of food was in there…untouched. She had not been fed ALL DAY.
I quickly mixed her a fresh bowl of food and watched her scarf it down…yes…even faster than usual. She then slurped up an ENTIRE bowl of water as well and I sat down on the floor next to her as she thankfully licked my face. Gee…I felt horrible as I looked back on the the delicious lunch I had enjoyed at a favorite restaurant celebrating Friday and the approaching weekend. While I feasted with friends, my poor little dog had sat in a strange, stark kennel with nothing to eat and it appeared…nothing to drink either.
I immediately called Phillips and not to belabor the point…they were full of excuses. “The attendant hadn’t understood what I told him?” How could that be…here’s food…here’s a dog…give it to her? Should someone who has such a lack of comprehension of simple commands be working with living creatures?

I asked that Dr. Homan call me. I left message after message. It was never important enough for this veterinarian to return my call. Sadie never went back.

What is happening in our world today? Customer services…customers’s that are right…these are things of the past. But you expect more from someone who is supposed to care for animals…who professes to love living creatures…you expect that they will answer your calls and quesitons…that they will care that they made a mistake…that they will take seriously if not sacredly that you trust your beloved animal to them whether its for an hour…a day…or a medical problem. I couldn’t trust this facility nor its employees again…my dog deserved her lunch…she needed to have water available. I needed to know why she didn’t have these. We’re still waiting to find out.

There’s a lesson in this. I asked people AFTER this incident about this facility and I was not happy with what I was told. In fact, I was frightened that I had ever left her here in the first place. Choose carefully where you leave you pet. Cindy Adams the famous NYC gossip columnist who made her Yorkie Jazzy famous with a best selling book learned the most horrible lesson when she left Jazzy at a careless kennel. Jazzy died.

Sadie seems none the worse for her missed lunch…perhaps I feel worse that my trust was misplaced…sadder…wiser…onward and upward!

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.