In honor of this anniversary, I am posting the text of an email that I sent to a friend on October 17, 2010, in the days just before we decided to adopt Tessa, then "Sadie" . . .
So, I promised to write and tell you the long story about Sadie! [Now the lovely Miss Tessa]
She was at a new shelter in Pine Grove (Off of exit 100 on I-81) and I went to evaluate her two Mondays ago. She was miserable there. I have seen dogs that were none too happy to be in a shelter, but she really was in a bad way. She was close to almost completely shut down. I had to evaluate her in her kennel run and she was cowering at
the back of it almost the whole time. The whole scene – concrete floors, loud barking dogs, a stranger in her space – was beyond overwhelming for her.
Apparently she was a stray near Lebanon. It took 3 months for Animal Control to catch her. She should have gone to a different shelter, but the Animal Control person, who is super nice, knew she would probably be euthanized because she was so skittish. So she took her up to the new shelter in Pine Grove. They took her and they contacted GHF because she was doing so badly in the shelter environment.
It was a tough eval because the shelter would not give me a dog to do the dog to dog test with. And she was too freaked out to take any food, so I couldn’t do the food test. But she let me touch her everywhere. She cowered, but once my hand was on her, she relaxed just a little and was fine. She let me do the ears, tail, paws, etc.
GHF decided to take her, but apparently they are completely full so they asked if I could foster her for a few weeks. I couldn’t say no after seeing how miserable she was.
Her name, given by the shelter, was Maggie, but I asked to change it because it sounds too much like Maddie. So, it was changed to Sadie.
When I went to pick Sadie up at the shelter, she was pretty skittish as I leashed her. She gets really nervous when you move in to leash her, even though she does relax once you have her collar. I had her on a slip lead and after all of the business was done, I took her out to load her into the car.
That was a problem. She panicked completely when I tried to get her into the car. I got her in there, and was closing the crate door and she was out like lightning. I still had hold of the slip lead, but she got out of it.
I kept myself from chasing her, knowing that she would probably run from me. I got the shelter people and they went to find her. When she spotted them she ran back to the shelter. They had to corner her to get her back inside, but once they did, they helped me get her into the crate in the car.
That is the first time in all of the years of transport that I’ve done that I have ever had a dog run off like that. I will definitely be taking precautions to avoid that in the future.
When I got home, it was even more difficult to get her into the house. She really panicked when I tried to get her to come into the side door. I had two leashes on her at that point – the slip and one on her collar - and it was a good thing. She would have gotten away if I hadn’t. I did get her into the house.
Once in, I had to bathe her because she smelled like shelter. I couldn’t get her into the shower – no way. I ended up putting towels on the floor and mixing shampoo into water in a container. I poured that over her and worked it in. She accepted that and she got a halfway decent bath. I had to take her out and rinse her with the
hose, and that took some doing, but once it was done the hardest part was over.
She met my dogs after that. Thankfully that went well. I really had no idea how she would be with dogs. One really odd thing – Speedy didn’t mind her at all. That goes to show how afraid she was.
Since I didn’t know if she was housetrained, I kept her tethered to me that first day. She seemed to like that. She didn’t mind moving from room to room with me on leash at all. I kept taking her out into the dog yard to do her business, but she was too nervous to go. She remained
extremely skittish. Anytime I moved, even a little, she would startle.
Later that evening, she ate very well when I fed everyone. And she finally went to the bathroom very late that night (outside, on leash, with me out there – brrrrr!!!)
I wasn’t sure what I should do with her for sleeping. I decided to sleep in the North Bedroom with the door closed. That meant Speedy was shut out, but I figured he would be fine for one night. I was going to put her on the floor next to me with a crate box to keep her in place.
She got right on the bed and planted herself there – chin to the bed and all!! That made it simple. I arranged her and the mutts on the bed and they slept that way.
Sadie loves furniture. It’s almost heartbreaking to think of what a couple of weeks on concrete must have been like for her. When she was on a bed or in Sammie’s chair for the first couple of days, she got a look on her face that was almost beatific.
She settled a lot by the second day. She no longer startled every time I moved and she got better about going through doors. By the second day I trusted her enough to actually drop her leash when we were outside. This was inside the fence even! I was really worried on the first day that she might even scale the fence, she was so fearful.
By the third day she started to run in and out of the house with the dogs to ease nature, and I started to let her out without a leash. By that day, she was even showing that she knew a recall. It is to "Dean, that'll do", but it's still a recall! Just today I started calling out, "Dean, that'll do - Sadie, that'll do".
She is very interesting. She doesn't trust us completely, but she has come a long way from the first day she was here. She is going to the vet tomorrow for a heartworm/lyme test and that is going to be . . . interesting!!!
Ben actually hinted again tonight about wanting to keep her. He mentioned that Dean has a new sister. Huh. Then he asked if we could foster her until she gets adopted. Actually, I think that's a good idea. I think she will be miserable at the Farm. Wonderful as it is, it still isn't someone's home. I think she would love running in the
paddocks, but I think she would hate the barn. Even the stalls, I think, would seem like very small spaces to her.
I am very protective of her. I'm not sure why. I've actually felt this way since the car ride home. Maybe Ben feels the same way. On one hand, we need a fifth dog like we need a hole in the head. But on the other hand, I honestly think she might be here to stay.
I have thought very seriously about whether or not I could deal with having a dog who doesn't love us back. She is easy enough. She is pleasant. She fits in perfectly with the dogs. She loves to be petted and she enjoys treats. We certainly love her. She still cowers a bit when you look at her, but that could be helped, I think, with some training and desensitization, and more time. But she might
never be an affectionate dog who can really love us in return.
But then, Dean loves us enough for ten dogs. They would sort of balance each other out that way.
Of course, she might become more affectionate in time. But Sadie is a dog that you have to accept as is. She might never really be a people dog.
For the moment my plan is to see how things go at the vet tomorrow. If she is healthy, I am going to start some light training. Start loading up a mat and - this might seem like an odd place to start - but I want to start her on some jumping. She actually lights up outside and sometimes she just runs around in the yard. I think she would enjoy a little jumping. That is something she can learn without
having to go into anything.
Anyway, I doubt we can keep her, but . . . I don't know. I guess we'll see what we see. If Ben wants her - and it seems like he kind of does - then this just might happen.
Obviously, she never left! One of the best decisions we ever made!
Happy 4 years, Miss Tessa! You are the most beautiful girl in the world.
Oh, and I was right about the jumping. She did - and does - love it!