Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sadie, My Sadie

More than a dozen years ago a neighbor dropped off a young German Shepard she had rescued from an abusive home. She had been tied to a dog house in the front yard to protect the property. Kids poked her with sticks on the way to school. My good hearted neighbor took her into her home. She tried to make up for the mistreatment the dog had suffered. What she did was promptly spoil her rotten. She became clingy, wouldn't let the woman's Golden Retrievers near her. All those good German Shepard traits were out of control. My neighbor couldn't handle her, so one day she showed up with dog food dish and all. The woman said, "I know you've admired her. Here she is; she's yours."
I had Rottweilers and Bullmastiffs at the time, so I didn't need a German Shepard, but I could see that the woman was at her wits end.
Sadie needed remedial socialization and a whole lot of it. I was busy showing my dogs and really didn't want to be bothered with all the work I was going to have to do to rehabilitate this needy creature.
Who wants a neurotic dog? Well, my question became who is qualified to take her? The answer was not too many, so if I was going to place her I needed to do the work.
Sadie learned to play ball and fetch. She loved running in our big back yard with my dogs. Soon she was controlling the pack. Nothing like a smart, bossy Shepard to get her butt beat for being too pushy with the other dogs. Before we knew it they got tired of her nipping their rears and rebelled. Sadie tried to dominate but wasn't strong enough to push the issue and win. The pack put her in her place. It was the first of many hard lessons for Sadie.
Sharing didn't come easy for her. When you live in a big family, you don't get to be the center of attention for long. Sadie's favorite word is "me". Our play sessions were never long enough for her. She would risk life and limb to come between me and my dogs when it wasn't her turn.
The Rotts and the Bullies are not big barkers, but we felt secure living in the country. Sadie barked at anything that moved. We knew when a car pulled into my neighbor's driveway. Sadie would sound the alarm over and over again. Most dogs figure out what is normal in an environment and when they should sound the alarm. Sadie believed in letting no movement go unannounced.
My Rotts and Bullies have since passed. I no longer show dogs. Sadie is paraplegic. When she is in her wheel chair, she still charges the fence to let everyone know a German Shepard is still on duty.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Dog

Christmas in the midwest was sleeting on the window of the truck stop where we had breakfast. Our dogs stayed home chewing their bones. Biscuits and gravy that's my big dietary sin. We were out to enjoy a meal, then back home to pack for Puerto Rico.
We sat looking at the sleet accumulate on the window before braving the elements to get to the car. Naw, we are not hardy anymore. We could have sat there for a long time waiting for the weather to improve, but off we went.
Just as I backed out of the parking space I saw a big black lab with a new red collar in my rear view. Ok, so where's the owner I don't want to hit anybody. No owner in sight, so what is this beautiful dog doing here? Just as that thought crosses my mind, he heads towards the highway. No time to wonder I call to him. His worried look gives way to that happy wiggle as he comes up to me with his low, submissive tail wag.
The lab realizes that he doesn't know me and starts to act shy. It's a good thing I have a lead in the car. I quickly slip it over his head. With the wind and the sleet I don't want him on the road. He's well fed and can't jump into my suv, so I coax him to put his front paws on the tailgate. With a big shove he is in and looking happy again. What a lovely temperament he has!
Ok, what are my options here? I ask all who come out of the restaurant if they know anything about him, no luck. We drive around the truck stop asking anyone we see if they know anything about him.
Just as I think I'll end up taking him to a shelter, we pull in at the truck repair place at the end of the lot. There's a man going in his shoulders are slumped. I pull up next to him, but he can't see through the back window. "Hey, do you know anybody who lost a dog?" "Yes, my best friend is gone" he replies. When the dog hears his voice he starts whimpering and his tail is wagging so fast.
We are happy to have found him. He thanks us and as I think the story is over the man tells us about how the dog saved his life a couple of months ago. The man was working under a truck that was jacked up as usual, but this time the dog got under it with him. He told the dog to go; it wouldn't leave. He got out from under the truck to remove the dog from the area, when the truck fell off the jack.
That made our Christmas!