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Sadie’s story is truly one of rags to riches


No one really knows what the first seven years of Sadie’s life were like, but the fact she had a microchip could indicate she had a loving, responsible family for at least a portion of that time. Her eighth year tells a story of both tragedy and redemption.

A post on an Internet neighborhood site, Nextdoor, alerted Deborah Scott to the plight of an abandoned dog out on the East Mesa. Scott said the photo showed “a dog that looked like it needed help.”

Armed only with a general location where the dog had been spotted, Scott drove the area looking for the dog. For four days, three of four times each day, she drove. And on the fourth day, she found the object of her search.

The dog’s hair was matted so badly that it impaired its ability to walk or raise its tail. The matting was so dense, Scott said, that when she eventually lured the dog to her side with food and captured it, she was unable to identify its gender.

Going against her own rules for handling unfamiliar animals, Scott said she did what she thought she had to do.

“I don’t recommend picking up an animal a person is not familiar with, but it was that or she would have hurt herself,” Scott said. “I’m lucky she didn’t try to bite me. She smelled terrible, with matts, ticks, fleas, briars and God only knows what else trapped in that fur.”

Despite the dog’s stench, Scott placed it in the passenger floorboard of her car and began to drive back home to figure out what to do next. But the dog was making plans, too.

“I had only gone a half mile when she crawled up and into my lap, licking my arm as if to say, ‘I’m sorry I gave you a hard time, but I was scared,’” Scott said.

Once home, a neighbor lent Scott a small enclosure to keep the dog isolated from Scott’s other animals until its condition could be assessed. The hour was late, so the assessment would have to wait until morning. Scott thought about it and knew what she needed to do.

“I ended up spending the night outside with her to keep her calm,” she said. “Besides, she had been abandoned, so she didn’t need to be alone on her first night at my home.”

The next morning was transformation day at the Scott home, where the worst of the dog’s mats were carefully cut away so the dog could walk freely.”

“I took off only what was necessary to allow her to get used to me and the new environment,” Scott said. “She was calm and seemed relieved they were being taken off.”

It was also investigation day. Scott called a local rescue organization, Barkhouse, and spoke with Nancy Dionne about low-cost vaccines and the proper procedures for notification of found dogs to see if an owner could be located. 

Scott had the dog bathed and groomed, vaccinated and checked for overall health. Besides tick and flea bites, which healed quickly, the dog was in fairly decent shape. She also had been spayed.

A check of her microchip yielded no working phone number, and the abandoned mobile home listed as the address was where Scott had found her.

Scott and her husband decided that the dog’s abandonment issues, size and temperament – and the fact she had survived what looked like been months of abandonment and neglect – meant she wouldn’t be just a foster.

In that instant, Sadie had a new name and a new home.

“The first week she ate like every meal was her last,” Scott said, “but she’s better about her food now, although if my other dog puts down a treat, Sadie is likely to snag it.” 

Sadie still has issues, but Scott says they are understandable, given her past.

“She has separation anxiety, fears strange noises and hands coming at her. I’ve only had her for three weeks, so I think she is doing well considering what she has been through,” Scott said. “Sadie is beginning to walk well on a leash, and she relieves herself outside on a regular basis, although she doesn’t like to go out by herself. That will be a breakthrough when I don’t have to go with her every time.”

As the days progress, so does Sadie’s improvement and socialization.

“I’m allowing her to get acquainted with friends as they come by, in my arms, which seems to make her comfortable,” Scott said. “Sadie is most comfortable with my other dog, who I rescued three years ago. Remarkably, they have the same coloring. Like her, he is a Shih Tzu mix. She likes to go on walks with him, go outside to relieve herself with him and to steal his toys.”

While Sadie settles into the Scott household and relearns the love of a caring family, Scott said she remains concerned about the other abused and neglected animals in the community. She said she appreciates the assistance of Barkhouse, and she applauds other animal-welfare entities, as well.

“I think it is important for the public to know about these rescue groups because they’re working on little to no funding,” Scott said. “I’m sure there are people who would want to help with donations of food, supplies or in a monetary way, if only they knew. Also, there are some who may know of an animal who is in a neglectful or abusive home but don’t know who to call for help. Many are afraid if they call a shelter, the animal will be put down or, as is the case now, the shelters are full.”

While the work goes on among agencies and entities that concern themselves with animal welfare, one thing is certain for Sadie. She went from rags to riches, thanks to Scott’s compassion and efforts to end her suffering.