MONTICELLO, Minn. (KMSP) - When she was just a few years old, Sadie lost a front leg after it was caught in a storm drain. Right from the very start, it was clear her life as a dog would be anything but typical. But her disability proved to be no match for her will to help.
No matter where you go in the small town of Monticello, Minn., everyone seems to have a story about Sadie, the three-legged dog. For the past couple weeks, the backyard of Heather Elliott-Heath has been home, giving Sadie plenty of room to run, and everyone else time to understand a story that all starts with a man named Roger.
Mary Korfiatis says her brother had it tough.
"If he would have only loved himself as much as he loved her, it would have been a beautiful thing,” she said.
Abused as a child, injured as an adult, 60-year-old Roger Giersdorf would survive three traumatic brain injuries and two brain surgeries.
"It's tough knowing that you do have a family member that's living like that,” Korfiatis said.
Despite his families best efforts, Roger and Sadie would soon end up on the streets.
"Sadie was usually sleeping in the backseat of the car and Roger was listening to the radio.”
Tow truck driver Dave Deluney would move Roger's car for free since he didn't have a license.
"This community looks out for a whole bunch of people,” Deluney said.
Over at the KFC, Roger and Sadie were welcome to stay as long as they pleased. They may have been homeless, but Roger and Sadie were never short on people looking to help. People like Heather.
"I saw that maybe there was something I knew a little bit more about.”
A law school graduate who knew the system, she hoped to get Roger and Sadie off the streets.
"The hope was first to start with housing,” Elliott-Heath said.
But then, on Aug. 9, after checking into the Days Inn, Roger’s story came to an end.
“I was shocked and yet not shocked,” Elliott-Heath said.
Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it had to with his ankles, which had been swollen for weeks. No one knows. But the one thing everyone knew for sure is Roger would have wanted Sadie to have a home.
"The girls took her upstairs and gave her a bath,” Elliott-Heath said.
And before long, Sadie was right at home. But no one could have guessed what came next.
"It's just out of a Hallmark movie -- not something that would typically happen in our lives,” Elliott-Heath said.
Heather snapped a photo on Sadie's first night of her 8 year-old son Randy with his new three-legged friend. Diagnosed with autism at birth, Randy doesn't speak and doesn't like dogs, but he loves Sadie.
"I actually cried,” Elliott-Heath said. “And I only cry twice a year."
With Roger, Sadie was a certified comfort dog. Now, with Randy, she's doing what she does best -- staying close and reminding a person in need she'll always be there.
The family plans to keep Sadie. Their best guess is she's around 8 to 10 years old. While no one knows how many years she has left, the one thing they do know is they're going to make those years the best they can possibly be.
While working on this story...
Fox 9 reporter Jack Highberger and photojournalist Casey Hooker found a missing dog while covering Sadie's story. They took the little guy to a local vet, and the owner has been located!