Sandi Sanders loved her four dachshunds, but she especially was connected with one named Mick.
Friends and family said they were inseparable in their seven years together. They shopped in stores, picked up food and hung out at The Pampered Pooch in central Denton, where Sanders worked for 24 years. Sanders, 48, had been the manager for three years, and Mick became such a familiar face in the parlor that he became known as the assistant manager.
"They were like best buds," said Leslie Lawler, owner of the dog-grooming business. "She had a little crate that she kept him in while she was working."
Sanders was driving a Saturn Ion with Mick and her other three dachshunds Thursday morning in the eastbound lane of FM1173 near Krum. The dog lover was on her way to work when the driver of 2014 Ford Fiesta rear-ended a Cadillac Escalade in the westbound lane. The driver of the Cadillac had been waiting to turn left onto Lovers Lane.
The impact caused the Cadillac to lurch out into the eastbound lane, striking Sanders' vehicle and killing her.
Three of the dogs survived, but Mick was found dead.
"She loved her dogs more than anything in this world ... and Mick was her everything," said 23-year-old Suzi Robinson, one of Sanders' twin daughters. "We kind of take comfort in the fact that he left with her."
Robinson and her fraternal twin sister, Jennifer Sanders, worked at the grooming parlor with their mother for more than a decade.
They started when they were 12, as Sanders and Lawler took them under their wings as groomers. Lawler said Sandi Sanders rarely missed work in more than two decades and often stayed late. She said she had "a way with animals. "
Her kids echoed those words.
"My mamma, she was the best person that I ever knew," Robinson said. "She was always helping somebody. And the evening before her accident, she stayed late at work helping somebody."
The parlor "was her happy place," Robinson added.
Sanders was born in Richmond, Virginia, and later lived in Ohio. She moved to Texas as a young girl and lived with a foster mother. After having two daughters and a son, Donald Sanders, the family moved to Aubrey around the time the daughters started working at The Pampered Pooch.
Robinson said her mother was recently "turning over a new leaf" after a difficult time in her life, which Robinson didn't want to discuss.
"She had recently connected with some old friends who gave her a chance at a new life," she said, adding that her mother was staying with the friends just outside Krum.
Sandi Sanders had planned an upcoming fishing trip and loved other outdoor activities such as camping. She also was an excellent marksman with a gun on the shooting range, Robinson said.
The Pampered Pooch will be closed through Nov. 28 while the family mourns her death. Robinson said they are considering arrangements to cremate Mick with Sanders.
"I know that I was not done loving my mother," Robinson said.
JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.
FEATURED PHOTO: Sandi Sanders was driving her four dachshunds to work at The Pampered Pooch in Denton Thursday morning when she was hit and killed by an Cadillac at FM1173 and Lovers Lane. Her most beloved dog, Mick (pictured above), died in the car with Sanders.