51: Sadi On Duty

51: Sadi On Duty

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Sadi On Duty

One of the most enduring friendships in history — dogs and their people, people and their dogs.

~Terry Kay

“Doug, I don’t think I can drive anymore,” I said to my husband. He was driving the moving van in front of us. The cell phone crackled. I wasn’t sure if he could hear me. I waited a few seconds.

“The baby’s crying, and the others are so tired they can’t see straight, and I can’t either,” I said.

More static.

“If you can hear me, please stop at the next exit. Okay?”

The phone hissed and spat like an angry cat.

“I’m going to hang up now. Love you.”

I tossed the phone on the passenger seat. Its screen light faded and with it my hope that Doug had heard anything I’d said.

I scanned the highway. In the dead of night, it was impossible to know where we were. No lights or signs to distinguish one stretch of road from another. I would have been utterly disoriented, except that I was following Doug and trusted he knew the way from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia. However, I also knew that even if I couldn’t contact him, I had to take the next exit. Soon, my fatigue would make driving dangerous, and I’d rather be hopelessly lost than dead.

Baby Elena was well past her normal feeding time, and her cries kept me alert for the next mile and a half. Unexpectedly, Doug’s blinker flashed in the darkness like a friendly wave. He’d seen an exit and was stopping!

Our caravan of three — the U-Haul, my van, and my mother’s truck — pulled into the gas station. All of us were relieved to stretch and eat after hours of driving.

Doug took me aside while my mom watched our six kids and Lab-Chow mix. “Honey, it’s after midnight. It’s not practical for you, your mom and the kids to keep driving. We still have five hours until we get to the new house.”

“Five hours! I thought we just had a couple more.”

“The construction in Knoxville and that heavy rain really set us back.”

“But five hours . . . ” My disbelief morphed into discouragement. Moving was my least favorite part of military life. “I don’t think I can manage five more hours.”

“That’s why I want you and your mom and the kids to stay here tonight. There’s a decent hotel and you guys can start fresh in the morning.”

“Mom and the kids and I? But what about you?”

“I’ve got to go on. The unloading crew we booked will be at the new house at 7 a.m. I have to be there with the U-Haul.”

“But aren’t you tired?”

“Sleep — it’s a crutch, like air and water.” He gave me a wry smile. “I’ll be okay. Really. This is nothing compared to two combat tours. Besides, I have Sadi with me. She’s great company. Never complains about my radio stations and sings good harmony, too.” He kissed my forehead. The matter was decided.

I kissed my husband goodbye and scratched Sadi’s ears. Watching the taillights shrink in the darkness made me suddenly lonely. I remembered the comfort of friends we left behind, the familiarity of our favorite kids-eat-free buffet. I thought about the littlest things I’d miss, like the flagpole on our porch. I remembered Doug teaching our kindergartner how to post and retire the Colors before he left for Iraq. I remembered Sadi sleeping right against the front door every night while Doug was away on back-to-back tours to the Middle East. I slept more easily knowing intruders would have to make it past her to get to us. Thankfully, no one tried.

The taillights were gone and I let the memories fade. I hoped Doug wasn’t as tired as I was.

The next morning, Mom and I followed Doug’s map to our new home. I couldn’t help checking ditches and ravines for signs of a crash. As a combat pilot, Doug was trained in risk mitigation. I knew he’d stop to nap when he needed to, but the “what ifs” plagued me anyway.

Five hours and fifteen minutes after we checked out of the hotel, Mom and I pulled into my new driveway. The first one to greet us was Sadi. She bounded down the porch to lick each of the children, and then Doug showed them to the back yard, which was a dream come true for child and dog — two acres of fenced paradise with trees and swing sets and forts.

Then, he brought me a cup of coffee, and we sat on the front porch. “That dog really earned her kibble last night.”

“Oh?” I sipped my coffee.

“It was like she could sense when I’d get tired. Most of the time she kept her head on my lap and enjoyed the ride. But about the time I started to feel even the slightest bit drowsy, that little lady would sit up and lick my face.”

I smiled. The whole time Doug was deployed, Sadi protected us while we slept. Last night she protected our soldier by making sure he didn’t. We might have just moved halfway across the country, but I for one was thankful that some things hadn’t changed.

~Mary C. Chace

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