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Randy Clark choked up as he talked about how much Sadie, his border collie-blue heeler, loved the dog door he built for her last year.

He could walk outside through the sliding glass door and leave it open, but Sadie would proudly push through her own little door alongside it.

"It turned out to be her demise," he said.

Early last Friday afternoon, a burglar or burglars apparently broke into the Clark home on the 2000 block of Colton Boulevard by climbing through Sadie's door.

Probably because Sadie was barking, Clark said, the intruder kicked and beat the 55-pound dog so severely that she had to be put down later in the day.

"They said she was in a lot of pain," Clark said. "I can't even imagine."

Clark and his wife, Kori, have been progressing through the stages of grief. They were approaching the stage of anger Wednesday, the day after they posted 20 fliers around their neighborhood, offering a $1,000 reward for information on the break-in.

The burglary happened last Friday afternoon sometime between 1:15, when Kori Clark left their house after lunch, and 2:10, when Randy Clark got home early from his construction job. They think Randy may have scared the burglar away when he entered through the front door.

However it happened, he walked back to the enclosed patio that they and their friends call the KR Sports Bar and saw that a table had been knocked over and various belongings scattered across the floor.

Sadie was sitting outside, and Clark called her three times.

"Right away I knew something was wrong," he said. "I kept calling her name and she wouldn't even turn around and look at me."

When he walked over to see what was wrong, Sadie finally turned around, "looked up at me and just tipped over sideways."

She had obvious head injuries and both left paws were bloody, with broken claws. When they took her to the Moore Lane Veterinary Hospital, they found Sadie's injuries were worse than they knew.

She had been kicked so hard that her diaphragm was split in two and she had a ruptured sternum and liver. They were back home, waiting for the police to arrive and debating whether to take a chance on expensive surgery, when the vet called and said Sadie was quickly fading.

A little later, after they arrived back at the clinic, the vet put her down. Sadie was 8. The Clarks had had her since she was 5 weeks old.

"She was such a friendly dog. She loved people, and people loved her," Clark said.

He figures that Sadie, who was always outside, probably followed the burglar into the house, hoping to play, and only started barking when the ransacking began.

The Clarks said the burglar didn't appear to have stolen anything, probably because he was frightened off. The house had been broken into once before, last spring, and their neighbor's house was burglarized earlier on the morning of Sadie's death.

They plan to board up the dog door and install a security system. It's too early to think about getting another dog.

Lt. Kevin Iffland said the Police Department is still investigating the break-in but has no solid suspects yet. The Clarks hope the reward will help, but for now they're just getting used to life without Sadie.

Talking to a reporter Wednesday afternoon, Kori Clark bolted up from her chair and ran outside to shoo a rabbit out of her garden. The rabbit problem has come as a surprise.

"So that's something we didn't know," Randy Clark said. "How hard Sadie worked around here."

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I cover the city of Billings.