July 25, 2013
North Nikiski, Alaska
Our friend called to say there was a Golden Retriever at the pound and she was to be put to sleep the next day if no one adopted her. Would we be interested? Our other 11 year old Golden, Penny Ann of Bishop Creek, had been gone for about 4 years, so we decided to go see the pound dog.
She met us with a wag of her tail and dropped a toy at Bob’s feet. SHE interviewed us! She wiggled and smiled and said she would come home with us. Her name was Sadie. We brought her home. We thought we had adopted a pound dog but actually she adopted us!
She loved to swim, with a trip every day during the summer down hill to the lake, which was good exercise for all of us. Sadie lead the way — ball or stick in her mouth, tail wagging like she was self-propelled.
She would drop what ever was in her mouth at Bob’s feet — Bob would pretend several times to throw it — then with a big heave, throw it as far as he could. Sadie would make a running jump off the dock, making a big splash-down, start swimming to retrieve the ball or stick. Bringing it back on shore, she would keep the ball in her mouth, running around and shaking off water that would soak you or anyone else with in 5 feet. We had to coax her to let go of the ball — finally she would give it to me — then I would give it to Bob and the whole game would start over again.
Three times of retrieving the ball-stick, she would swim over and attack the water lilies, smacking them with her paws until they disappeared under the water. She would go to the next one and do the same. Not one water lily was safe! After the water lily attack, she would swim to shore, shake off, play the “maybe I will give you the ball” game. Eventually she would give me the ball, that I would give to Bob to heave one more time into water — another big splash-down off the dock, get the ball-stick, swim back to shore and she was finished swimming. She had us trained! She headed up the hill with the ball-stick in her mouth. The hard part was walking back up the hill, as you get older, it seems like the steep hill gets longer. Everyone was happy, especially Sadie. Thanks to her we had our exercise for the day!
Sadie had been professionally trained at one time and some of her habits were a mystery to us. She never took a bite of her food unless you told her it was OK. She never went out the door unless you stood by the door and invited her out. I am sure there were other trained abilities we never knew about. We never knew where and who she belonged to before she invited us into her life.
She also trained Bob to take her with him every time the car or pickup went out of the yard. She would sit in the pickup tall and proud, until a big truck went by. She lost all control of her “barker,” barking and biting at the window. This was very dangerous as she would reach across the driver’s side and onto Bob’s arms and lap! That was lots of big dog to contend with while he was driving to the dump! Then she would sit back in her side of the seat in regal fashion until the next big truck. Bob’s hearing was never the same after that!
On the mornings that Bob went to work at M&M Market, he would head for the car and so would Sadie. She would climb in the back seat and would sit in the middle as if she was the back seat driver. But actually she was looking for a big truck to go by so she could bark and bite and stick her head out the window until the truck went on down the road, then back to the middle of the seat waiting for the next big truck. She especially did not like big yellow trucks.
She would sleep in the car until Bob was through with his work, getting excited when he got close to our house, barking up a storm. Three years later, she was so crippled she could not get into the car or pickup without Bob picking her up, so the rides to M&M got fewer and fewer. The occasional ride to the dump in the pickup was still her big outing. She never got tired of barking at big trucks.
Sadie had anxieties, just like us humans. She would let out a big mournful howl when Bob left. She would lay in the yard half asleep, until she heard the car or pickup turn off the highway, get up and sit at the drive way until Bob drove in so she could be the official greeter. If we were in the house and she was outdoors, we would expect a big woe-full, lonesome howl from her until we would come out to see her. I would take her three carrots for a treat. She did have us trained!
Her other great quality was that she loved — loved — kids. She must have had kids in her “other life.” If kids visited us in the yard, she was right there with ball or stick and a wag of the big tail. She would bug them until they threw the item in her mouth. If our neighbors up the hill, about a block away from us, had kids visiting she would disappear. I would get a phone call saying Sadie was up there playing with the kids or later she eventually laid in the shade just watching them. She would not come home and once in a while she stayed all night with the other doggies. Well trained owners that we are, we would go get her, boost her in the car, take her home and help her out of the car. She had her kid-fix for the day and was ready for her evening meal. What is strange, we never saw her leave the house; we never saw her take the steep trail up the hill to be with the noise of playing kids. If she was missing from our yard we knew where to find her.
Sadie had a boyfriend. A little tiny neighbor dog named Gus. Every morning Gus would visit Sadie, lick and kiss on her — then lay down and sleep with her until Bob came home. Sadie would get up and bug Bob for a dog bone. She trained him to teach her to say “dog-bone” loud and clear. If we had more than one neighbor dog in the yard, they all got treats. Gus would stay after the other dogs left. In the evening we would have to tell Gus to go home. He would head up the steep trail to his house.
Sadie not only said “dog-bone” she would also say “Obama” and loved to show off her talent.
In the mornings in the summer and winter, Sadie and I and two or three of our kitties would take a walk up the drive way to the cul-de-sac, her “smeller” taking in every new morning smell. In the summer it was other dogs or moose tracks. In the spring it would be rabbits and an occasional lynx and if she showed genuine fear with her hair standing up — I knew it probably was a “bear smell” that had crossed the road on the way for a drink at the lake. I looked like the Pied Piper, dog blazing the trail, kitties bring up the rear. I was well protected!
Last year we stopped taking her to the lake every day, as it was so hard for her (and us) to get back up the hill. She only swam two or three times, attacked the water lilies and then headed up the long steep hill. It took us just as long to get up the hill as it did her. She still enjoyed the trip down the drive way with me and the kitties. This year she went to the lake two times with the neighbor dogs, but she was tuckered out by the time she came back up the hill and needed a big long nap. In the past three months she slept more and more and had troubles getting up and maneuvering steps. Her quality of life was not good. Although she did not understand her health problems, she was always very happy to see you. And we stopped walking down the drive way — because the lead dog could not go.
Last week we loaded her into the car for a ride to Captain Cook Park. She enjoyed the ride, sitting regally in the middle of the back seat waiting for a big yellow truck. Then Thursday, one last ride to the vet, she got her doggie-wings to fly to doggie heaven to teach all the other dogs in that great doggie heaven in the sky to say “dog-bone.” Yup! We miss her.