Our Lady of SaddleBrooke – a valiant shepherd to the end

Don Bott

As many SaddleBrooke residents have experienced, the loss of our pets is among the saddest times of our lives. And so it was for our family when on April 23, our dear Shetland Sheepdog Lady left us. Lady was well known in our community; I wrote about her last year when she retired from her job as a therapy dog serving the patients and staff at Sierra Tucson where about 10,000 folks felt her love and received healing from her presence. She was so intuitive and visiting a room of hurting humans, she’d work the room, making sure to greet each individual.

Of course, when we entered the hospital she would announce her presence with her famous deep voiced “Woo-Woo” – a greeting that almost all would receive when meeting Lady. On our walks she met residents like Phil James, Norm and Carol, Jack and Ginny, Mr. Carter, the Johnsons and so many others who would have treats for her. And of course, they looked forward to her “Woo-Woo’s.”

As a shepherd she always made sure we, her family flock, were properly herded whether running around us in circles or always looking back to make sure we were in line. Being large for the Sheltie breed, she was very athletic and loved to run. Her main love was charging sprinklers which she’d do steadily for 30 minutes or more. Lady loved to chase Kildeer, a low flying bird which would fly back and forth taunting her with its cries. One day a coyote pup came out of the desert to join her in the chase; Lady stopped abruptly, snapped at the pup that retreated back to the desert.

She loved classical music. In the evening she would lie on her towel in our bedroom listening to a satellite TV channel. A J.S. Bach piece was playing. Since it was bedtime, I turned the music off. She looked up at me and growled. She really loved Bach.

In recent years her arthritis set in and our son Tim became her primary caregiver taking her for her walks on the golf course in our golf cart. Her ears always perked up when she saw the sprinklers, but now she briefly walked through them.

She was slowing down. After a week where her breathing became labored (and the Woo-Wooing stopped), we took her to see her vet Dr. Erin O’Donnell. With many tears we learned that she had liver cancer and other complications and it was time for us to think about home hospice and have a family decision to have Lady euthanized, which the vet would do at our home.

Lady continued to deteriorate and we decided the next morning that it was her time. We arranged for Dr. O’Donnell to visit on Sunday morning April 24.

On Saturday evening April 23 Tim notified our neighbors that Lady would be taking her last golf ride at 5:30 p.m. and they were invited to say good-bye. Lining up on their driveways along Samaniego Drive, many folks with many tears gave her their last touches and hugs. Tim then drove to a favorite vista looking down the ninth fairway of the Catalina Course. At 6:15 p.m. she died in his arms.

We think she was thinking about us until the end as she spared us the trauma of the act of mercy scheduled for the next morning. She was a creature of love with so much spirit, strength and loyalty, a sense of humor, a shepherd, and we were her flock. We were so blessed to have her as a member of our family. Lady was 13.