Without hesitation, the 10-year-old Labrador retriever-border collie mix raced to her person.
As John stroked the gray-muzzled dog, Daisy showed no signs that this past April her life had been in danger from a life-threatening disease, or that in February her previous owner had died.
Instead, with bright eyes, perked ears, and a wagging tail, Daisy is a picture of friendliness and health. Energy vibrated through her as she greeted her visitors: me and her other guests.
Daisy had been a faithful companion for ten years to a veteran named Monte. During those years, Daisy became a familiar face to other veterans in the apartment complex, including John and Colin.
Colin and John had become friends with Monte through their shared love of dogs, and in Colin’s case a fondness for Daisy in particular. Daisy’s eyes reminded Colin of his dog from years back which inspired him to write a song for her.
When Monte’s health began to fade, Colin and John stepped in to help care for Daisy. They took note of her friendly personality, and called her “Little Miss Helper”. Colin said, “Daisy goes up to everyone and lifts them up.”
Then this past February, Monte passed away in his room. Daisy had been lying next to him, her head on his chest, when Colin found them.
“Daisy was down in her spirits,” Colin said. “I had presence of mind to say, ‘Good girl, Daisy, for staying with Daddy.’” With this praise, Daisy off the bed and danced around Colin.
He and John became Daisy’s new caretakers. According to Colin, Daisy adjusted fairly quickly to her new life. Colin speculated that one reason might be that the apartments in the complex are identical in layout, and another could be that he and John had taken over Daisy’s care prior to Monte’s death.
Aside from an ache in their hearts over the loss of Monte, life settled into a routine for the three. Daisy became a stabilizing force for Colin. “There have been times when I’ve been down,” Colin said. “Daisy makes me feel better and I want to take care of her.”
He noted that the same was true of some of the other veterans in the building. “A lot of the tenants here are recovering alcoholics and addicts,” Colin explained, “and Daisy brightens their lives.” Some of them will ask if they can take Daisy for a walk or even care for her for a day, which is how Daisy has earned the title of “Mascot of the Building.”
Then in April, Colin and John noticed a fatty deposit on Daisy’s shoulder. She was ten pounds overweight and the two didn’t think too seriously about the lump but did want it removed. After saving up $300 to cover the cost of surgery, they took Daisy to a veterinarian in May.
During what they thought would be a standard procedure, an infection was discovered in Daisy’s uterus. Their bill was going to increase by $700, a hefty cost for two veterans on fixed income. Yet the infection was part of a life-threatening condition called pyometra, and so there was no question in Colin and John’s mind of what to do.
By now, Daisy had become a lifeline not just for Colin and John but also to many of the veterans in their building. They arranged to pay $50 a month towards Daisy’s bill, while also applying to Animal Control for a grant.
Unknown to the two at the time, their veterinarian had contacted Sadie Dog Fund. Later in the spring, Colin and John received word that their bill had been paid in full. “We were ecstatic!” Colin said. “We thanked the Lord. Our bill being paid has been the biggest blessing financially, and we’re putting up flyers up everywhere about Sadie Dog Fund. I’ve also talked to another person who will need Sadie Dog Fund.”
According to Pam Hoffman, saving the lives of dogs is what Sadie Dog Fund is all about. Pam is the founder and director of the charity, which has a special fund for veterans. “We realize how devastating it would be for a U.S. veteran to lose their dog because of the inability to cover necessary veterinary expenses.”
Studies show that dogs can help veterans feel safe and calm. In addition, dogs can help veterans become more comfortable with family members, and give them a reason to remain part of the world. Pam recognizes that “dogs can be a lifeline for a veteran when humans can’t.” She hopes that Sadie Dog Fund can make a difference by being a resource “that Nebraska veterans can reach out to for financial assistance for their dogs’ medical needs.”
In addition, Pam feels a special concern for veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Studies show that dogs can decrease anxiety and depression simply due to their warmth, love, and companionship. Some dogs can even be trained to sense when their owners are having a nightmare and nuzzle them awake, or remind their owners to take medication. “Twenty plus veterans commit suicide each day in our country,” Pam said. “Sadie Dog Fund wants to be a part of reducing those numbers.”
On November 18, from 10 a.m – 5 p.m., Sadie Dog Fund will host a fundraising event for its Veteran’s Dog Assistance Program. The event is called “Pawsome Holiday Pet Portraits” and will be held at Cherished Images by Beverly at 6220 Havelock Avenue.
Support for “Pawsome Holiday Pet Portraits” and similar fundraisers will enable Sadie Dog Fund to help more dogs like Daisy. Thanks to the life-saving surgery Daisy received, Colin says his “little wolfie” is full of energy again. “You wouldn’t know Daisy is ten-years-old. She’s living her second puppy hood.”