It was a rainy Friday night nearly 17 and a half years ago when we picked up Sadie, a tiny, 8-week-old Jack Russell Terrier from the grandfather of a breeder who lived in Tennessee. She was just slightly larger than my hands and was definitely the most active of the litter. And so our journey with Sadie began.

That journey ended last Friday, a lot more peacefully than it began, when we said goodbye to our beloved Diva. And through the tears that we shed freely as we looked at her sweet face for the last time, we talked of beautiful memories and wonderful times from a life so well lived. Sadie was never ill, except for an occasional bout with the stomach flu; she remained free of cancer, diabetes, blindness, arthritis and so many other problems that plague older dogs.

Until last Thursday, Sadie remained as active as any older healthy senior dog and only when her little back legs gave out did we make the final decision to bring her to the vet. Some friends told us they would never adopt a pet for that reason - having to say goodbye. But our family wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world and Sadie brought joy beyond words into our lives. There were just so many wonderful things about her.

When she was a puppy, we realized very quickly how smart Sadie was and started teaching her some tricks right away. She loved running for sticks and little balls in the backyard and we taught her to roll over at about three months. Sadie was a born performer and a diva.

Our household has always been a menagerie and from her first night as a member of the family, Sadie had to contend with two cats and two rescue dogs- Roxy and Lovey, both of whom were three times her size. We lost Lovey not long after Sadie arrived, but she remained close friends with the two kitties and Roxy for years.

and carried easily. We could take her anywhere we were going, except for fancy dinners, especially in the summer. And people fell in love with her and the feeling was mutual. But one Sunday that changed. I had taken Sadie to Dunkin Donuts and I was holding her while I stood in line.

I barely noticed three little ones who were petting her leg. Suddenly, I heard a very low growl from Sadie. One little boy almost yanked her hind paw and she snapped. The little kids ran.

Our friend Diane reflected that her vision of Sadie was of the dog jumping from chair to chair or couch to couch like a little streak. We remembered those days and evenings well. And for so many of the early and middle years of her life, Sadie could always jump our high, four-poster bed.

Among our favorite outings with Sadie, Roxie and eventually Patches were Sunday morning walks at Saint Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock. How she longed for those walks and was raring to go. Of course, she decided that no other dog was going to bother her dog pack and she stood her ground, especially with the biggest dogs. When Sadie got too carried away I literally held her up to my face and said, “Now you stop that barking right now!”

And Sadie was very manipulative. One night before Passover, my wife was preparing chopped liver and had put about 4 pounds of finished liver into one of her best glass bowls. I was in the back office working when I heard barking and my wife’s shrieks and epithets. We think that Sadie had convinced Patches to jump our four-foot granite counter and pull the liver off. When I arrived, the liver and shards were on the kitchen floor with the two dogs picking through the debris to eat the liver.

In the later years, Sadie’s sleeping spot became a blow-up mat below our bed and she spent countless hours just sunning herself outside or inside. Her walking had slowed but her spirit remained vibrant.

One morning just before the end, I lifted her up to carry her outside and realized that she wasn’t as steady on her feet. She looked at me as if to say, “It’s been a good run, but I’m tired.”

It was a good run, girl and a life so well lived. Thank you for being part of our lives, Sadie. Now you’ve crossed that Rainbow Bridge and you can run free. We’ll never be able to fill the void you’ve left.