Creed came to us in late February, 2021. The name Creed seemed strong and independent, a name that did not fit the tiny, skinny, shaking and timid dog that she was. My granddaughter and I could not decide whether to call her Sweet Sadie for the way she looked or Nervous Nellie for the way she behaved so she became Sadie Nell.
The first few days she refused to eat, would come close to us and then run away if we moved at all and shook almost constantly. If I put her next to me, on my lap or went outdoors with her she would stay wherever I put her. She hated the grass or anyplace outside other than the brick patio. After a few days she ventured over to the fence and would sit with her nose pressed against the wire just staring straight ahead. I spent many hours every day just observing her and trying to figure out her behavior cues and body language.
As we became more comfortable with each other she began to communicate with her body language. I could tell when she needed to go potty by her circling behavior and her stares told me that she found her food to be unacceptable. Her foster mom suggested sprinkling parmesan cheese on the food, which helped somewhat. I also found that she often had trouble digesting the kibble and would vomit after she ate, so I contacted our vet for suggestions. After trying several types of kibbles that he suggested we found one with very tiny pieces that she was able to digest. I also noted that she was often constipated so I switched from parmesan cheese to a half teaspoon of low-fat cottage cheese with her kibble. That made a big difference in her desire to eat and also relieved the constipation. She refused treats and generally found food to be something to refuse or to bury under the couch. That has changed in the months that she has lived with us. She is still fussy about what she eats but no longer hoards food and will ask for treats especially after she has been walking outdoors or exercising.
I found that it helps her to face new experiences very gradually and with lots of praise in a soft voice since she can be very noise sensitive. She began to interact with our 2 older dogs more often and learned to venture into the grass and even how to navigate shallow stairs. Now that we understand each other she has become my shadow and is very able to show me what she wants and needs.
The biggest change in Sadie was finding her voice. For the first 6 or 7 months after she arrived, she never barked. All of her communication was by the way she sat, stared at me or moved. Several times a week she would whimper in her sleep and then suddenly wake herself with one loud yap. She would then shiver and sometimes wet herself. We worked out a system where I turned on a light and talked softly to her until she figured out where she was and that she was safe. Then she was able to go back to sleep. She has not had nightmares for at least 3 months now.
About 6 months after she joined our family Romeo, one of our 13+ year old Shelties developed lymphoma. He was not in pain but gradually became weaker as he transitioned to doggie hospice. Sadie became his almost constant companion and suddenly began to bark and circle me when Romeo needed something. She developed a specific tone when Romeo needed help to go outside and she stayed with him until he was ready to come back indoors. Then she would bark to let me know that she need help up the one step into the den. During this time, she also developed a bark to let me know that a cat was at the door and wanted to go in or out, and a bark and Happy Dance for when I came back into the house after a trip to the grocery store or barn. She also developed a bark and dance to greet our “grand dog” and grandchildren when they visit us.
Romeo passed away about 5 weeks after he was diagnosed. Romeo and Willow had been together since the day that they were born and Willow became even more listless and slept more than before. Sadie tried to bark to interact with Willow but figured out that did not work since Willow is deaf. She now nudges Willow with her nose to get her to follow Sadie. Sadie also stopped sleeping with us the day that Romeo died. She now sleeps next to Willow and has become the dominant critter in our house. She scolds the cats if they sleep on Willow’s bed, makes sure Willow knows when it is potty time and lets me know when she and Willow want treats.
Sadie continues to grow and change from a frightened, timid dog to a take charge, nurturing, independent dog who shows joy every day with her antics, body language and voice. She is even learning to play and I am hopeful that she will someday learn to fetch. I have had many dogs in my lifetime but Sadie is the one who completes me. We understand each other and really enjoy each other. I love to watch her learn, grow and change. I thank God every day for bringing her into our lives. I also thank ATT and volunteers for rescuing Sadie and for the support and encouragement that they provided on this journey. You are THE BEST!!