When life hands you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade. It’s a great analogy for making the best out of a bad situation. But sometimes, when you’re forced to make lemonade, you find out you’re actually phenomenal at making life-changing lemonade. For one pup named Sadie and her owner Joal, that’s exactly what happened. Sadie, a paralyzed dog’s tale of hope and inspiration turned a tragic event into a worldwide mission.
That’s why I wanted to share this story from one member of the disabled pet community. Sadie’s story shows that life doesn’t end just because you can’t walk. Instead, it can open the opportunity to make life better for others.
When Joal met Sadie
In 2012, after giving birth to a litter of puppies in Kentucky, Sadie’s owner took her into the woods and shot her twice; once in the spine and once in her head. Two people nearby heard the shots, and rushed Sadie to a local veterinarian.
She suffered serious injuries, but thankfully she survived the ordeal. The only lasting effect was paralysis in her hind legs. When Sadie was well enough she was transferred to Starfish Animal rescue in W. Chicago.
It was at the shelter where Sadie met Joal Derse Dauer.
“I was only donating blankets to the rescue group,” said Joal. “When I was walking out, I saw Sadie lying next to a volunteer. I didn’t see her disability. Sadie’s the kind of dog I’ve always gravitated towards. So, I stopped to say hi. I asked the volunteer, ‘What’s the dog’s story?’
I’m a natural-born ‘fixer’ so after hearing about what Sadie had been through, I immediately started to think how she could be helped. I didn’t want to foster her and I wasn’t looking for another dog. I told myself I would fix Sadie and we would each go on our merry way.
I got permission from the rescue to take Sadie to a couple of veterinary specialists and off we went.”
What the veterinarians had to say
The first vet performed a number of tests and confirmed with an x-ray that Sadie had been shot. He even found shrapnel in her spine. He recommended getting the dog a wheelchair.
Next they went another veterinarian who, due to the paralysis and incontinence, said the kind thing to do would be to euthanize Sadie.
“I called the rescue group to see if I could keep Sadie a few more days,” said Joal. The shelter agreed, but in my heart, I knew I would keep her.”
Joal introduced Sadie to the rest of her dogs and settled her into her new “temporary” home. She had never taken care of a disabled dog before, but that didn’t stop her.
She found a holistic vet who, like Joal, wanted to give Sadie a chance. Every morning Joal dropped Sadie off at the vet’s office before work and at the end of the day, she picked her up. The vet treated Sadie with essential oil baths and various forms of rehabilitation.
And on the weekend, Joal traveled to the next state so Sadie could receive additional treatments from a well-known canine rehab facility.
Better every day
Sadie’s recovery was long, and not always simple, but thanks to a fantastic support network in their community, progress never faltered. Each time the family would hit a roadblock, new ideas were suggested and new helpers would offer their expertise. A story in their local newspaper even attracted a nearby Olympic trainer who met with Joal to examine Sadie and offer advice.
Today, Sadie weighs 50lbs and is in excellent physical shape. She can walk, although on an angle, as well as hop, swim and play. She can even high-five using both front paws at once!
Sadie, a paralyzed dog’s tale of hope inspiring the world
Amazingly, Sadie’s story didn’t stop when she and her family found each other or when she began to recover. Following the outpouring of community support, Sadie and Joal became local celebrities in their Wisconsin town, and the duo were invited to lots of community events to share their story.
At one event, Sadie and Joal met a boy named Todd, a blind and deaf young man who was living life in a wheelchair. Todd’s connection to Sadie was immediate. His mother was overjoyed to see her son so animated and happy. The interaction touched Joal profoundly.
“I knew if Sadie could touch one person, she could help others,” said Joal.
As Joal saw it, Sadie had been bullied in the worst possible way, yet she had recovered and found joy in life. She decided to turn Sadie’s story into a global mission of anti-bullying, and began to craft a message to teach others.
Speaking, sharing and saving lives
Joal and Sadie began by making presentations at schools, discussing the impacts of bullying and the importance of love and perseverance. The efforts were well received, with schools actively reaching out for them to share her important message with students. The mission was so popular that, at one point, Joal and Sadie were booked at 10 schools over a two-day period.
Saving Sadie the book
Eventually, Joal co-authored a book, Saving Sadie: How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World. The tale reminds us all that we each have special needs and as well as special abilities. The heartwarming, inspirational book is now in its fourth edition.
Saving Sadie spread Sadie’s anti-bullying message like never before, reaching thousands of lives across 60 countries around the world. Readers have written to Joal, expressing how Sadie’s story has helped them overcome depression, suicide and more.
Saving Sadie today
Between their book, speaking appearances and celebrity status, Sadie is now known worldwide as a vocal canine representative for the anti-bullying message. She’s appeared on TV, radio and major newspapers. She also has a website and a children’s book, Sadie and the Superstars, which teaches kids to imagine what they can accomplish rather than obsessing over what they think they can’t!
When life gives you lemons, change the world
When it all comes down to it, Joal just wanted to help one dog. She fell in love with Sadie the moment she met her, and since then has turned her story into a campaign that’s impacting lives everywhere. This wasn’t her intention, and it probably wasn’t Sadie’s either, but like I said, sometimes you make lemonade, and sometimes you make lemonade that can change the world.
Sadie’s become a true inspiration to individuals who’ve suffered challenges and devastating setbacks. Her tale is one of hope, showing the world that when there’s love, there is always hope.