On August 13, 2012, after living with cancer for almost 3 years, Diane kept her promise to me and gave me my final command – to cross over the Rainbow Bridge to fetch my beloved Frisbee on the other side.
I had a wonderful life, and here are some of my highlights:
I was born in England and came to the United States at the age of 10 weeks. I immediately began training for what would be a lifetime of service to my adopted country. I was FEMA certified at 18 months – people said that I was young for such an accomplishment. Truth was, I found it all fun and exciting and not like work at all. My partner and best buddy Diane made it even more fun for me.
I loved learning and all of my comprehensive training, so I was ready for my first big assignment when I was only 2 years old – at the Pentagon after 09/11. Thus began my lifelong career of service to my country.
I stayed busy after that with many searches throughout our country, including the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and searching for Natalee Holloway in Aruba. Along the way I sniffed lots of toxic sites, but all I cared about was doing my job as best I could to help people. Everywhere I went I got people to smile and laugh by engaging them in my favorite game of all – Frisbee!
I even went to war – 6 months in Iraq. It was scary at times, but it all turned out okay because I was with my teammate Diane. We played lots of Frisbee when the fire was all around us, and the two of us became even closer as we searched for our missing soldiers together.
When we returned, life continued at a fast pace, which I just thrived on. In the last four years my life had lots of ups, and a few downs, too. One of my routine chest x rays that was done because I was in the 9/11 canine study, showed a tumor (thymoma) in my chest and another cancer in my lungs, even though I looked and felt fine. I was referred to the top animal cancer center in the country, CSU Animal Cancer Center.
There I met the most wonderful doctors ever! I had what would be the first of three major cancer surgeries. Generous folks from New Mexico and throughout the country donated toward my treatment, which led to the creation of” The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve”. I’m happy we can now help other working canines like me.
I bounced back after each surgery and collected a few things called “awards” along the way. Among them are the 2009 AKC Award for Canine Excellence (the ACE Award}, and the 2011 AHA Hero Dog Award for Search & Rescue. If there had been an award for most enthusiastic Frisbee player, I think I would have won that too!
There was even a trip to Capitol Hill – something they called “Heroes on Both Ends of the Leash”. My hero, of course, is Diane, who always had faith in my abilities, and I never let her down, not even once.
I celebrated my 13th birthday this past January by popping about 60 balloons – my most favorite passion next to Frisbee! All was good and it was looking like another great year ahead – In March, Diane and I traveled to North Carolina State University to be part of their College of Veterinary Medicine Open House. I performed my search & rescue demos flawlessly, and I could tell that Diane was so proud of me!
I was even invited to be the canine guest of honor in April at the” One Cure” cancer fundraiser for Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center. Diane and I helped raise over $100,000 – I was very excited to be a part of such a worthwhile venture. But my routine exam while there showed I had more tumors in my chest and my calcium, whatever that is, was high. I spent a week with my friends at CSU, Dr. Withrow, Dr. Hardy, Dr Goh, & Dr. Barrera at the Cancer Center so they could figure out what to do next. I stayed with my new friend Jocey at her house and she took me to the cancer center every day just to hang out with the administrative staff. I even taught them how to throw a Frisbee! Then I flew home with my old friend Mary, and we had a wonderful reunion after not seeing each other for several years.
Since then, Dr. Walker, Robin and all the Country Club Animal Vet staff, Diane, Kathy and lots of other family and friends kept me going so I could still enjoy life by traveling, chasing Frisbees, and trying to teach my grand niece Micah some proper British etiquette!
In the end, my will was still as strong as ever, but the cancer made it more and more difficult for my body to perform at the level I had come to expect. I felt that it was time to exit gracefully, and so I went out on a high note with a short game of Frisbee, and popped a few final balloons! It sure felt as good as ever!
Then Diane gave me my final command, and off I went. I still had one more mission here, to continue assisting in both canine and human cancer research.
It’s sad to leave my family and friends, but I hope that they will celebrate my life and not mourn my passing too much (well, maybe mourn just a little – everyone says I was a pretty special canine!)
I thank my beloved family members, both here and “across the pond”, in Great Britain, and all my dear friends for your unending love and support throughout my lifetime of service. Thanks to all, if you ever voted for me, or threw a Frisbee for me. My wish is that you live your lives with zestful enthusiasm, and humbly follow your passion, your own personal Frisbee, wherever it leads you.
Bye for now,
K-9 Sage (Whetsel)
Written by Kathy O’Dette under the indirect supervision of Sage