Jade the train dog, touches lives, loses hers: Matt's Memo

Jade the train dog.

We will never know what the final healthy moments of Jade the train dog's life were like. She was enjoying her freedom doing what young dogs do. Driven by curiosity she surely was sniffing, watching and moving from one spot to the next. Hours after making the escape from her family's fenced in yard to chase a squirrel, Jade was doing what we might guess most dogs dream about. She was free.

Then suddenly trouble struck. They think it was a train that hit her. Animal control found Jade near the tracks that cross 7th North Street in Salina. Who knows how much time had passed from being hurt to being discovered. But, they found her. They put her in the hands of the round the clock emergency care provided at the Veterinary Medical Center of CNY. Jade would have a chance to make it.

Those emergency specialists triaged Jade. They eased her pain, started her on fluids and assessed critical issues. VMC acted without knowing who owned Jade. The pro bono veterinary care kept Jade going and gave her family a chance for a reunion. She was not wearing a tag. She did not have a microchip. By the morning, the story on the television news had alerted the family. Jade was alive, but in rough shape.

Sean Hillenbrand was relieved his dog was alive. Sean's three year old little girl was wonderfully attached to Jade. They were buddies. The medical team explained to Sean and his family the challenges ahead. Dr.. Tim Robinson prepped Jade for surgery. He knew one of her rear legs was ripped up. There could be other broken bones. Everyone hoped for the best.

At the same time the Shamrock Animal Fund connected with Sean and the staff at VMC. Shamrock offered financial assistance and took the lead on raising funds from a public eager to help. Sean was grateful. He sounded relieved. He happily forwarded photos of Jade during better days. A directed donation page was created on

The site was up for just over one hour when the phone rang. It was the practice manager at VMC. Dr. Robinson's optimism had been replaced by the reality of the massive injuries. Both legs were in severe trouble. Setting cost aside, they staff had to tell the family they were out of options.

Sean's family took time together, took time with Jade and then gave the nod that it was time to put her down. She had survived the unsurvivable for just long enough for one last goodbye. And to touch so many others.

In the brief time the donation site was live it was just starting to be shared on Facebook. It had yet to be promoted on the evening television newscasts. In one hour animal lovers from across Central New York gave more than $400 to help Jade. The gifts ranged from $5 to $200. People wanted to give. They wanted Jade and her family to be well again.

It was not meant to be. The veterinary hospital, the community, the media did all it could. Jade's family should take comfort knowing they were not alone during this difficult day and they are not alone in their sadness.

As for Jade - she's somewhere sniffing, watching and running from one spot to the next. Jade the train dog is free.


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