Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sadie Lou

Sadie Lou. Next month, we'll celebrate our one-year anniversary with our beloved greyhound. I hadn't planned on posting this until it was closer to the anniversary date and until I had taken some pictures to go with it, but tomorrow we're getting our new dog and I wanted to get my post about Sadie done first. And, quite frankly, if I waited 'til I had pictures, this post might never happen!

It's been a hoot having Sadie as our pet and seeing her change throughout the year. When she first came to us, she was very timid and mellow. She followed me around everywhere, driving me nuts honestly. If I got up to get a snack, she got up with me. I couldn't go anywhere without my little shadow, that is, until Steve got home. She quickly figured out who she loved most - the tall man who gave her lots of treats and spoiled her. She actually took awhile to figure out what treats were. She went right to the peanut butter-filled Kong, but when we offered her a dog biscuit she'd sniff it and walk away. It wasn't until after a visit to the vet's office and he gave her meaty, soft treats that we figured out that those were what to get for her. After she got used to those, we were able to re-introduce the hard dog biscuits and she gobbled them up joyfully. Now, she'll eat practically anything we give her (we don't give her human food except as a very rare treat).

It was good to have figured out what kind of treats to give her because we were finally able to help her know her new name. We'd had a hard time getting her to realize that we were talking to her when we called "Sadie!" One day at the farmer's market, we ran into a woman with two greyhounds who taught us how to teach her her name, but it entailed using a lot of treats. So we stocked up and did what she had told us and it worked! While I watched tv during the day, at every commercial I'd call Sadie's name. If she came, she'd get a couple bacon flavored treats. Every so often, I wouldn't give her treats when she came, just lots of loving. Within a couple days she was coming when she heard her name even if there wasn't the possibility of getting food.

Teaching her to recognize her name by using food inspired me to start teaching her a "trick". We'd been told that greyhounds didn't like to sit, so I decided to try to get her to lay down on command. I waited until she was really comfortable with her name and would come every time, without food. Then I started having her come to me. I had food in my hands and would let her smell the treat but not eat it. I'd knock the floor with my treat-filled hand and say "Down". Her nose would follow my hand and eventually the rest of her body would too. When she was down, I'd repeat the word and give her the treat. I was surprised that within two days she was doing it easily every time I said "Down". Again, I wouldn't always do the trick with food in my hand but would lavish her with praise and love each time. Nowadays, she'll go down without food, we just say "Down" and tap the floor.

Steve loved that I was teaching her this trick and wanted to take it further. Doing the same thing I had down with "Down", he taught her to sit. Who said greyhounds won't sit? She loves it! Oh, and she totally knows it's what she has to do before we give her any sort of treat. So, when she wants to eat something, she sits. One day, we were grilling steaks outside. She'd been sniffing around the grill and obviously was interested in what was going on. When Steve put the steaks on a plate and turned to carry them inside. Sadie ran in front of him, turned, sat down, and looked up at him with an expression on her face that seemed to say, "Look at how obedient I am, I'm sitting! Now, please give me some steak!"

Now that she has "Sit" and "Down" more or less mastered (she sometimes chooses to pretend she doesn't know what we're talking about), I've started working on "Roll Over". It's a toughie. I'm starting with "Over" and having her just roll over on one side. I haven't been very consistent but last night when I tried it with her, she did it the first time. She's so smart. Once she's really good at "Over", I'll work on the "Roll". I imagine it's going to be pretty humorous. *smile*

As the months have passed, we have gotten to see new sides of our Sadie's personality. She's definitely not shy and mellow, at least not as mellow as she was. She's still lazy, which is great, but she loves being active and playing, at least until she gets tired (5 - 10 minutes top). It took us quite a few months to get her to play with us. Taking her to the dog park was really helpful as she learned from the other dogs that balls were fun to play with. Now she loves to play catch with a tennis ball, play tug-o-war with the rope, and her special favorites are the toy ferrets and foxes with the squeekies at the tail and head. She totally spazzes when we bring out one of those.

She loves people, especially kids. When we take her walking and she sees a person walking towards us, Sadie's tail starts wagging slowly at first then increases in speed as the person gets closer. By the time they are by us, her tail is wagging so hard her whole back half is shaking. Also, her teeth start chattering. This only started in January and really took us by surprise. It's the cutest thing! She chatters anytime she's really excited about anything. Like seeing my mom. After Steve and myself, my mom is probably Sadie's next favorite person in the world. She also has a special attachment to my nephew and niece. They stayed with us last summer for a week, shortly after we got Sadie. Poor Sadie was really depressed for a day or two after they left. I think she feels like they are a part of our pack and is happier than ants at a picnic when we're all reunited.

After months of taking her to the dog park, Sadie has finally accepted that the other dogs are worthy of her attention. We were told that greyhounds, having been raised solely around other greyhounds, didn't recognize other breeds as fellow dogs at first. For a long time, Sadie would completely ignore the other dogs at the dog park and go straight to the humans for what she deemed her rightful love and admiration. Eventually, though, she started playing with the dogs, too. She is especially interested in other black dogs. Sadie rarely barks (unless Steve is provoking her or I'm teasing her by not throwing her beloved ferret when she wants me to), but if she wants to play with a dog (especially a black one) and it isn't responding to her, she'll start barking at it, urging it to come run with her. She's become quite a friendly, outgoing animal.

Before we got Sadie, I was kind of nervous about getting a dog, especially a bigger dog. I knew it would change our lives and I sometimes panic when given too much time to think about changes. There have been some annoying moments in the past year (when she started eating our chair rail around the kitchen, etc.), but I wouldn't go back to our life without Sadie. She is part of our family, our pack. She has brought us a lot of joy and laughter, and when Steve was working late into the night or gone for work, she was such a comfort to have around. We became snuggle buddies. I love that dog.

Like last year, I'm kind of nervous about getting a second dog, but if he brings us even half the joy that Sadie does, he will be a great addition to our home. We found out yesterday that we'll get him tomorrow night! I'm excited and nervous but am really interested to see how Sadie handles the new addition. Fortunately, he's male, so it should help alleviate any dominance problems, and he's black - her favorite color! Yep, we're going to have two black greyhounds! I'll let you know how things are going once we've had him for a bit.

Wish us luck!

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Good luck! It sounds really exciting! :)

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