Friday, September 6, 2013

Our Summer with Sadie (Part 1 - The Good Times)


This blog post will come in 2 parts. Our main concern in this particular blog post is simply to reflect upon all the love and joy Sadie gave to us in the short, short time we had her (hence the blog title).

The one to follow will tell the tragic story of how her life came to an unexpected close, but will also end in hope as we will reflect upon the lessons we have learned and applications we hope all our readers will consider as well.

One quick warning... these posts will probably be very long for 2 reasons: (1) We (Chris & Bri) are writing these posts together which means there are more cooks in the kitchen than normal, each wanting to have a say in what information is important to convey, and (2) we are writing these posts primarily for ourselves. We want to remember everything we possibly can and cherish every moment. How tragic it would be to have such a short time with little Ms. Sadie and only be able to recall a handful of events after many years have passed. No. We want to remember as much as possible!

If you are a dog person, and especially a dog owner, grab some tissues... this won't be easy for any of us...


On May 28th we went to the Randolph County Shelter to check out some dogs we had seen on their website. Lo and behold none of those dogs were still there (typical). The lady assisting us didn't want us to go away disappointed or empty-handed so she took us back behind the magical "employees only" door! She showed us dog after dog but none of them really stood out.

And then it happen. We saw her! Chris randomly pointed her out first. "What about that one?" pointing to the eager little girl that would soon be ours. She was brought out and instantly took to Chris. As we played with her in the lobby and asked if she was "the one", that sweet little girl kept calmly sitting by Chris' feet and looking up as if she were saying, "yes, take me." Plus, she met all of the criteria Chris was looking for: a snout, a tail, and super cute!

That was that, the lady at the shelter fast tracked our application (which normally takes around 24+ hours) and 20 minutes later we walked out the door with a little furry bundle of joy. The ride home was surreal. We kept looking at each other saying, "we got a dog... this is crazy!"
She looooooved watching the world go by!
This was the same face she made at the shelter that stole our hearts.
Resting comfortably...
On the ride home, as we reassured ourselves of our decision, our first task as a dog-owner was to rename our sweet little girl. On paper she was "Tasha," but that just didn't suite her so we discussed other options. We landed on "Sadie" because there was another sweet looking dog named Sadie at the Guilford County Shelter and we really liked the name. 

By the end of the first day all we knew about Sadie was the info on her paperwork, what the shelter staff could tell us, and that she stole our hearts. Her paperwork told us she was a beagle mix. Our best guess is that she was mixed with Pointer or Springer Spaniel (we think it was most likely Pointer). Also, we didn't know her exact age but everyone's best guess, experts included, was that she was under 1 year, most likely around 9-10 months old. 


That day and the next several days were a whirlwind as we then had to purchase everything for her: crate, food, leash, collar, harness, treats, bones, toys, etc. Priority #1, however, was getting her a bath, so we took her directly to the Connellys' (Bri's parents') house because they already have 2 dogs and all the essentials for getting a dog clean. As Chris drew the water, Bri was downstairs talking to her mom. Sadie was left unattended. And so it was that Sadie peed and pooped in their dinning room... what an introduction!

Early on, she didn't have much of a personality. For the most part she was quiet, pretty submissive, and wasn't very playful, despite Chris' numerous attempts to get her hyper. And she didn't take to any of the toys or bones we got for her. At the most, she'd sniff them and move on. However, crated-Sadie was a much different dog! More than once we would come back having found something in her crate torn to shreds. One time it was the actual hard, plastic flooring of her crate. Clearly, this pup suffered from severe separation anxiety.
Seriously?!? How in the world?!? 

We discovered quickly that our new pup must of had some early training because we found her to be very submissive and receptive to authority. She sat without command most of the time and was quick to report when her name was called. In fact, any time you would show her her leash, she'd come right up to you, sit down, throw up a paw (which was both weird and super adorable), wag her tail, and wait patiently until everyone was ready to go... all on her own.
"Daddy... I'm ready to go outside!"
The first few days and nights were filled with moments trying to establish our relationship with Sadie. As dog-owners know, its easy to give in to that sweet little face, but we wanted Sadie to know that we made the rules and she followed them. Therefore, the first few days and nights we made sure to establish the fact that Sadie had to be invited on the couch and on the bed before jumping up. To establish the authority, Sadie spent the first couple nights sleeping on the floor. But it didn't take too long before we allowed for the bed to become her spot. :)
She always took over Mommy's side of the bed
Sadie was a sweet and healthy pup (we know because our first visit the the vet confirmed it!), but while we were at the vet, we were told that she was either going into heat or just coming out of it. We were hoping for the latter... what we got was the former... so we quickly had to run get doggie diapers. And that drama continued for about a week.

Then it came time to have her fixed. So the drama continued yet again for another week trying to keep her inactive until she fully healed. Our instructions were: no jumping, no running, no playing. At this point, Sadie was accustomed to sleeping on the bed with us, so either she would have barked at us until we let her up or should would have jumped up on her own if we ignored her for too long... and we couldn't let her do either. Thus, we, being the good puppy-parents we were, got out our inflatable mattress and slept on the floor for a few days with her. :)
I spy a cute pup wearing diapers...
The cone of shame!
Then there was her leg. On her back left leg there was a red bump she had had since we got her. The first 2 times we took her to the vet, they simply stated it was a common tumor dogs get that will grow for a time and then shrink to nothing, but all we kept seeing was growth. Long story short, we took her in a 3rd time, they did some tests, and found that it wasn't a tumor. Instead is was some kind of skin irritation (the medical name of which escapes us) that got worse as Sadie would lick it. And so it came to pass that we had to keep her leg medicated and bandaged while also giving her some new medication (and the cone of shame returned during her crate time so that she wouldn't chew off the bandages). Oh the joys of taking care of a pet...

In terms of eating, she was very good. If you put food in her bowl, it was sure to be gone within 15 minutes, which is wonderful for a family who is often on tight schedules. We've always been used to dogs who wait all day to eat anything... so this was an added bonus for us. But she liked food so much so that if she found other dogs' bowls, she'd eat from them if left unattended. One time, while we were at the beach, a friend and one of our siblings were helping look after Sadie for us, and they caught her in the act of stealing another dog's food. They both yelled out, "SADIE!" Sadie, looked at them... and all the food in her mouth came tumbling out as if to say, "What? I wasn't doing anything..." They laughed so hard at her then and each time they retold the story.


By the time we came back from said beach trip, Sadie, by this point, was what Chris called a "normal" dog: fixed, healed up, and getting used to her environment. Her personality finally began to show and she finally began taking to a few toys and chew bones (and, man, would she devour a chew bone!). She even would play a few short rounds of fetch... like the good version where you'd throw the ball, she'd run and go get it, bring it back to you and actually let you grab it from her mouth without resistance... again, all on her own!

More than anything, Sadie LOVED being outside! She was always ready for a walk. But the best was getting opportunities to take her to a dog park or letting her out in someone else's big fenced-in back yard. In Chris' words, this is when Sadie "came alive." She would run and run and run and run. And if another dog was there, she would play and run and play and run. Often times she'd go find a patch of grass with an interesting smell and dive-bomb it with her body and wiggle around. This was always the most interesting when she was on her leash, because then we'd be dragging her behind us while she's wiggling around on her back.

Probably one of our most favorite things about Sadie was actually people's reactions about her. Everyone... and we mean EVERYONE... that met her, liked her. Whether at Petsmart, in the dog parks, or walking in the neighborhood, everyone could tell that she was a good dog, with a good personality, that had a sweet and playful disposition. And Sadie never met someone she didn't like either. That goes for dogs too... she never met another dog she didn't want to play with! Oh, we were proud puppy-parents indeed!
Chillin' outside 
Classic Sadie (this was also our LAST picture of her... appropriate)

We only had Sadie for about 2 1/2 months, but the time we had and the happiness we shared will have an everlasting impact on us. This is the reason for this post! We want to celebrate the good times we gave her as well as the ones she gave to us. Someone once said, "Our dogs are not our whole world, but they make our world whole." And that was and is so true for us. So, to conclude, we simply want to list a series of experiences and character traits that made our summer with Sadie so special (along with a few more pics!). You may find your pet is just like her in more ways than 1... :)
  • She would let out a big sigh when she found a good resting spot
  • She always wanted to chase bunnies and geese
  • She would randomly bark at us as if to announce “I’m ready to play now”
  • After chasing down a fly, she learned she could sit on top of the couch
  • Getting into small, cramped areas to rest was her specialty… like behind furniture
  • She’d only bark at other dogs and people from the window. We think it’s because she knew should couldn’t physically get to them to say hello
  • Whenever she got excited seeing another animal, she would sprout this intense Mohawk that extended the length of her back (hence why Chris wanted her to be named Sadie “Hawkins”)
  • She knew 3 tricks: sit, up, and stay
  • The beagle part of her always kept her nose to the ground
  • She loved car rides… she’d assume she was going with you when you grabbed your keys or put on shoes
  • While in the car, she’d go back and forth between being curled up in the back seat, to sitting in mommy’s lap, to sitting in daddy’s lap while he was driving!
  • She learned quickly that being off the leash outdoors was not an invitation to run away (though she did twice) but that it meant we were either going inside or going to the car
  • With the first few bites of her food she would always take it away, find a soft spot (like the carpet), and chew, only to end up eating next to the bowl because she realized it was too much work to do that each time – but she did it EVERY time!
  • She had crate issues…
  • Crate Issue #1: She’d cower from her crate when she knew we were leaving which meant we’d always have to find her and carry her to it
  • Crate Issue #2: Most of the time we had to place her all the way in her crate because she wouldn’t walk in on her own. She only walked in a handful of times
  • Crate Issue #3: 9 times out of 10 when the front door officially shut we could hear her barking obsessively in her crate from the outside
  • Crate Issue #4: Because of her separation anxiety, she would often salivate a lot in her crate leaving us with the constant chore of cleaning up pools of saliva and drying her off
  • However, she did learn that she couldn’t leave her crate until she was specifically invited out
  • She came to us housetrained (except for when it came to Bri’s parents’ dining room – she almost always did something in there)
  • However, twice, after eating a rawhide bone, her mouth got so dry from this that she drank a lot before bedtime – both times resulting in a pee spot on the hallway rug the following morning
  • After using the bathroom outside, she would always do this kick-back action with her hind legs as if to try to cover up what she had just done – and to indicate that she was all finished
  • She was notorious for hiding her stuff, especially her bones. We still have not found the bone we brought with us to Jacksonville… but it’s there somewhere
  • She loved having her belly rubbed
  • She mainly slept at the foot of the bed until morning – then she got in our faces for some serious cuddle time!
  • In the mornings, she’d get up with mommy in order to go eat, but would go right back to bed after eating and sleep with daddy until he got up
  • She didn’t like being held too much – she became dead weight mainly
  • She met A LOT of people from our church and neighborhood in a very short amount of time. She got to spend repeated, quality time playing with at least 8 other dogs (mainly male dogs… Sadie was a player)
  • She never jumped up on people when she was excited, but she’d stand up and streeeeeetch herself on whoever she was greeting
  • She was always very submissive and gentle (except the times she’d kick Chris trying to get comfortable on the bed or couch)
  • She was scared of frogs… and drains
  • She would do this weird thing where she’d arch her back like a cat and rub up against the couch. To turn around, her head would take a nose-dive to the carpet to somehow pivot her body in the other direction. And she’d always let out little playful “woofs” while doing it. What a weirdo!
  • She cuddled with mommy but followed daddy

"Hey! I'm cute! Love me!"
"THIS... IS... SO... AWESOME!!!"
"Pay no attention to the pup behind the end-table"
Okay, so this photo is only 50% genuine...
"I can help drive, Daddy. Is this helping?"
On top of the world
Our ONLY family photo :) and :(
Stay tuned for Part 2... which may take us a while... it's a tough story to tell.

Our love to you all!