Sadie of Corpus
sometimes it takes a dog to bring out the best in humans
by Kathleene S. Baker
sat alone in Bill Miller’s BBQ eating lunch and double-checking my shopping list.
As always, Bill’s was jam packed and buzzing with bits and pieces of conversation.
Dishes were clanging and banging, while Christmas Carols played in the background.
Jovial waitresses were decked out in Santa hats – holiday cheer abounded!|
Suddenly a rather scrubby, poorly dressed fellow entered and approach the young
clerk at the cash register. From what I could gather, he was asking for a handout
of some sort. The clerk seemed anxious and unsure of how to handle the situation.
While speaking, the man glanced out the front window several times, which caused
me to do the same.
Evidently he wasn’t alone. He had two companions outside,
one being a terribly thin dog that appeared to be a medium-sized, mixed breed.
The sight of the devoted and underweight canine friend was all it took. My appetite
vanished right along with my warm fuzzy feelings of the holiday season.
“Oh, I can’t handle this,” grumbled a man at the table next to me. He pushed his
plate away, got up, and walked to the cash register. “I want several big broiled
chicken breasts for that poor dog out there.” His voice was coarse and he had
a look of true anguish on his face. “Can you bag up a couple of to-go meals for
the dog’s owners too?”
The clerk’s nervous expression was instantly replaced
with a huge smile. “Yes, sir! Oh – thank you so much.”
The chicken was
ready before the meals, and the generous stranger high-tailed it out the door.
Being curious, I hustled outside and lingered by my car. Passing by the dog’s
owner, I had noticed the smell of alcohol.
But the aroma of chicken had
the dog’s tail wagging to beat the band. In fact, her entire body wagged. Her
newfound-friend offered small bites while stroking her lackluster, drab, reddish
coat and speaking in a calm, loving voice.
“Her name is Sadie,” said the
man. “She’s a real good dog. We found her roaming the streets about four months
ago. She just kind of took to us and hasn’t left our side since. My name is Ed.
That guy inside is my brother, Charles.”
As I studied Sadie more closely
it was apparent she had been, or was possibly still, nursing a litter of pups.
She was definitely in need of the chicken she was savoring.
Her big, beautiful,
brown eyes spoke volumes as she devoured each bite with all the manners of a true
lady. I wondered how long it had been since she’d had the satisfaction of a full
tummy. What a shame, as it was obvious she was a kind, loyal, and gentle soul.
When finished, she gave her new friend a quick kiss on the cheek, then
walked over, sat at the feet of her owner, and continued to lick her chops. A
complete stranger had given her a gift beyond description, and I wondered who
this man might be.
Then out walked Charles with the to-go meals and both
brothers expressed sincere thanks. Ed offered up an added comment. “God bless
you, Mister, and Merry Christmas.”
The generous stranger looked both men
in the eye. “You know this loyal companion of yours would feed you first, any
day of the week. Even if she had a drinking problem – she’d meet your needs before
buying another bottle. In fact, she would lay down her life for you.” The brothers
hung their heads in shame.
“Sir, we love Sadie. She’s all we have,” stammered
Charles. “I promise you right now, we’ll do the best we can for her. But I want
you to know she always has fresh water from the faucet at the gas station over
yonder. And we’re awfully careful when we find food in dumpsters. Nothing has
ever made any of us sick.”
Ed interrupted nervously. “We took her pups
to the Animal Shelter hoping they’d find good homes. They said Sadie was older
and wasn’t likely to be adopted. We couldn’t stand to think they might put her
down, so we kept her. We’re a family.”
The stranger spoke again with his
deep, gruff voice, “I’ll make a deal with you. When you can’t feed Sadie she will
have a running tab at this café, but one of the employees will always watch to
be sure she is fed every single bite. The food is for her – I hope you understand
what I’m saying. I’ve known the owner of this place for years. All you need to
do is ask for the boss, and tell him Sadie needs chicken breasts -- he’ll take
care of it.”
Tears welled up in the eyes of both men. Ed knelt down and
wrapped his arms around the dog’s neck. “Did you hear that Sadie? You’ll never
have to fall asleep with your stomach growling again.”
Both men began
to offer thanks once more, but the gentleman turned away as tears began to trickle
down his face. He crouched down and spoke directly to Sadie. “If your owners take
care of you, I’ll see to it that they get an occasional meal too. I’ll be getting
reports on your condition from the folks that work here. They’ll be watching for
you, sweet girl.”
I climbed into my car and dried my eyes as I watched
Sadie’s benefactor walk back inside. Through the plate glass window I could see
him speaking with the owner who was nodding his head in approval, while shaking
hands with Sadie’s Christmas Angel.
© 2005 Kathleene S. Baker