Sadie teaches us that no matter what your condition is, your life is so worth living to the fullest.
In the spring of 2012, a small group of people out for an afternoon hike in the mountains of Kentucky stumbled across a seriously wounded dog. She had a bullet hole between her eyes, and another in her back, and had clearly been abandoned and left to die. She was barely clinging on to life, but had refused to give up.
The hikers knew there was little time to spare. They were able to safely transport the dog to a nearby veterinarian where she was stabilized. Once out of danger, she was sent to a local no-kill shelter in Wisconsin to await adoption. There, she crossed paths with Joal Derse Dauer, a native Wisconsinite who has had a passion for animals since she was a child.
Joal was visiting the shelter to donate some blankets, something she often did, when she first met this special dog, named Sadie. “As I was walking out, I saw her and asked what her story was. I was curious because even though her head was hanging down, I thought she was beautiful. At the time, though, I had no intentions of adopting another animal because I already had three at home.”
Once Joal heard Sadie’s horrific tale, however, her heart sank and she knew she had to do something.
“I asked if I could take her to a veterinarian, and I was told I could as long as I paid for it,” Joal says. “So off we went.”
The first vet Joal took Sadie to did some x-rays and confirmed that bullets were still lodged in her back and between her eyes. She was told Sadie would need a cart to get around. The second vet they went to told Joal that Sadie was incontinent and that the “right” thing to do would be to have her euthanized.
“I have had dogs my whole life and have never had one like her.”
Joal refused to accept this because she saw something in the little dog she just couldn’t let go of. She was determined to do whatever she could to help Sadie. So she brought her home that night, and set up a comfortable space in the garage where Sadie could rest.
Joal’s next visit was to holistic veterinarian Dr. Jodie Gruentstern at the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex in Muskego. There, Joal was assured that everything would be done to give Sadie the life she most definitely deserved.
“Sadie received every therapy known to man,” says Joal, adding that the dog’s treatments included acupuncture, aquapuncture, cranial sacral therapy, chiropractic, laser therapy, Power Plate sessions (whole body vibration), and infrared therapy.
Four years later, Sadie still receives regular therapy and is living a happy life full of love and care. Because the bullets and shrapnel are too deeply embedded in her brain and body to remove, she doesn’t walk like other dogs, but this doesn’t dampen her spirits. In fact, she has a definite purpose in life, says Joal, who travels with her canine friend on a mission to raise awareness of animal abuse, and to teach people about accepting those with special needs, both human and animal.
“We help the people we meet in nursing homes, schools and libraries to think about what they can do and not what they can’t do, just as Sadie does,” Joal explains.
“Sadie teaches us that no matter what your condition is, your life is so worth living to the fullest.”
Despite her tragic background, Sadie is a sweet and loving dog with a huge personality. “She can do high-tens over her head and she recently taught me how to howl,” Joal laughs. Sadie loves children and has no problem with hundreds of them lining up to pet her during an event. According to Joal, children in wheelchairs especially love Sadie because they are able to relate to her.
“We met one older boy named Todd who was in a wheelchair and also visually impaired,” Joan explains. “It seemed he was just ‘stuck’ so I moved Sadie over to him. The person with him put Todd’s hand on Sadie and we heard actual sounds coming out of the boy’s mouth. Not words, but sounds. Todd actually felt something through Sadie.”
A true “media darling”, Sadie has been featured in newspapers and on radio and TV, and has even had a presence at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. She is also co-author of her own children’s book, Sadie and the Superstars.
And that’s not all. Sadie is a Peer Ambassa-Dog with Generations Against Bullying, an organization that helps people understand that the scars left from bullying last a lifetime. Sadie’s story illustrates the fact that animals need someone to stand up for them because they have no voice, just as children who are bullied need someone to stand up for them too.
Last but not least, Sadie’s full life story will become available in print with the release of Saving Sadie — How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World, to be published by Kensington/Citadel in September of 2017.
“I have had dogs my whole life and have never had one like Sadie,” Joal says. “From day one, she has taught me to savor every moment of every day. Sadie was saved for a reason!”