It’s a cloudless March day in Maine with unseasonably warm temperatures. Green grass begins to sprout in patches across our lawn in Gorham.

Light wind blows a few dried leaves across the porch. Squirrels scurry up oak trees whose branches will soon bud and bloom within the next few months.

On the dirt driveway, Sadie snoozes in the sun. It is her last day of life.

As a college student, I’m often overwhelmed with homework and obligations, bogged down by e-mails and Google searches. In my fast-paced, technologically driven life, I find one of the best ways to unwind is a quiet afternoon with my dog.

Sadie’s a 13-year-old golden retriever. While I’ve spent thousands of dollars on educational pursuits, some of the best lessons I’ve learned have come from after-school excursions with a friend who has only ever asked that I toss around a Frisbee and scratch her fuzzy ears.

Over the last year, old age crept up on her. The past few weeks have been pretty cruel to her body. Once an adventurous hiking buddy and companion with me on backcountry snowshoe outings, now she can barely walk up the stairs. To watch her suffer with such pain is heartbreaking.


Sadie and I grew up together. I pounced with her when she was a spirited puppy, taught her how to swim, and watched her light brown face slowly fade to white.

She saw me through the stresses of adolescence, slept every night in my bedroom when my two sisters left for college, and welcomed me home after I spent a semester in California, 3,000 miles away.

In my senior year of high school, I wrote a column for Maine Voices in which I explained how Sadie showed me the value of simplicity in this thing called life. Tomorrow, she’s being put to sleep. While her body is leaving, the lessons she’s taught me linger on.

As she embraces the last rays of sun on her final afternoon, I realize that there are few things in life more comforting than a yellow dog waiting at the top of a long, dirt driveway for her favorite pal.


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