Sadie learns to play by the rules!
My name is Sadie, some people knew me as Gypsy, and I was saved from the streets of Bosnia. A few years ago I was able to get my ticket to freedom by means of a plane ride to the United States with my fellow street dog Star and her mom Christine. I was so cute, pretty, and docile they just couldn’t pass me up. I mean, who could?
Luckily, my mom, (you guys know her as Jess) said she would foster me so I had a nice home waiting for me when I got here. When I met Jess and the rest of my family, I was happy to let them come to me and pet me. I did not have much energy to get up to greet anyone. I even ate lying down and nothing seemed to bother me. I never barked or growled at anything, and I also did not play with the other dogs in the house. My family thought this was just me adjusting, as I had clearly been through a lot in the six short months I had been alive.
But a few days after being in my new home, I decided to sleep on Jess’ bed and she noticed I was breathing really fast, even when I was sleeping. She took me to the doctor and right away they knew something was wrong. They said my gums were white which meant I was anemic. They took my blood to run tests and it turns out I had no platelets and almost no red blood cells, which made it hard for me to breathe. The doctor said the chances of me dying were very high. Jess was so upset and didn’t know if I was in pain or not. That was her biggest concern.
The doctor and Jess discussed what was best for me and decided to try and make me feel better. I had to take a lot of medicine, but day by day, I had more energy and Jess says I actually started to act like a dog, whatever that means. I played with my new brothers sometimes, and I even got into scraps with Cosmo. I had to go to the doctor every couple of weeks and they would test my blood, but I was a good girl and never made a fuss about it. The doctor was shocked one day at how much my blood work had improved, but I still had to stay on one of the medicines, and it made my hair fall out in places, but, eventually, that got better too. About six months later, I was much healthier and living the good dog’s life.
And after all that, Jess decided to adopt me, and became my mom...!
Since I had more energy and I wasn’t so focused on just breathing, I became very aware of my surroundings and everything going on around me. There were a lot of things that scared me. Balloons. Mailboxes. Fire hydrants. Wind. And strangers.
To help me feel better about these things, Mom would pet me and tell me it wouldn’t hurt me. I would still just slink by whatever it was that scared me. Sometimes, Mom would have visitors come over. A couple times I barked or growled at these people, because they were not my family and I didn’t know who they were or how to react to them. Mom would pat my head and tell me it would be ok. So the next time people came over I thought I should do the same thing since Mom told me last time I did a good job.
Men came over to work on the house and I got very upset and tried to protect Mom by barking at them to tell them to go away. She picked me up and carried me away and told me it was ok. The next time a man came to the house I barked at him, but this time Jess told me “No!” so I went and to lie down underneath the kitchen table. When the man sat down at the kitchen table, I nipped at his pant leg to tell him that he was in my space. I thought I was doing what Mom wanted, but for some reason, she put me on a leash and made me stay next to her.
The next time we went to the doctor, the doctor walked in the door and scared me and I got very upset and jumped at her. Mom calmed me down by petting me and I was better after that. The doctor told her that she should not pet me when I act like that. The doctor said Mom was reinforcing my aggressive behavior. Well, dang. How were either of us supposed to know that?
Mom started researching and realized she had done all the wrong things for me when I acted aggressive. She baby talked to me, pet me, let me sleep on the human’s bed, and even picked me up and carried me when I got really scared. All of these things combined with my lack of confidence and a sketchy past, meant my bad behavior was going to escalate rather than improve.
But, because Mom knew I was smart, we started training together. It has not been easy. We have spent hours and hours working on it. We even drove 14 hours to do a seminar in New Orleans with some really awesome trainers and I learned so much. I hated the city though because I love my yard and being able to run and play. I didn’t go to the bathroom for almost 2 days while we were there! Mom couldn’t believe it. The seminar taught Mom how to build my confidence and trust, and correct me when I make bad decisions, just like kids have to be told “no.”
I still sometimes forget what I have learned and I have to be reminded, but Jess can tell when I am stressed and usually just tells me to “chill” and I do. Regardless, Mom is always careful with me so that people around me are safe and I can still enjoy things like the park and hikes in the mountains.
What’s even better is that now she and I are helping to train other dogs, and she named it "Sadie's Rules," after ME! WEE!! And I get to play with them and I really love it!
It makes me feel good knowing I’m teaching other dogs how to play but not be too rough and how to be calm when the humans tell us to.
I hope to continue to keep you all updated on my training and all the fun places I go and new dogs I get to meet. Until next time!