by Cara Brockhoff
Does having children late in life keep one young? If Sadie (HR’s Shade) is any indication, this is a viable philosophy.
Born December 20, 1986
Sadie was over 11-years-old when she was spayed and came to live with our family in Northern California this summer. Sadie had two careers before her retirement: one as a professional racer and another as a professional mother. Her demeanor makes it clear she enjoyed both thoroughly. Though we’ve learned little about her racing talents in the month that we’ve had her, we assume that she wouldn’t have been bred had she not proved herself on the track. Sadie’s well-used undercarriage, however, attests to the fact that she has most certainly performed prolifically in her second career.
Sadie is the sixth dog to enter our Northcoast Greyhound Support Group NW in Salem, Oregon. In conversing via phone and e-mail with the chapter president, Pat Toman, about these recent adoptions, she bemoaned the fact that eleven year old “Shade” was languishing in the kennel. Pat had filled all her foster homes with dogs going to adopters and had four dogs with broken legs. “She’s a real sweetheart,” said Pat, with full intention of manipulating my heartstrings. It worked. After the loss of our 11-year-old Esther (“Essie”), there was a gaping hole in our home. There’s little doubt in my mind that Esther herself guided Sadie and me to each other. It took Jerry and me a few moments at most to decide we needed a fifth dog!
House guests and a trip out of state would have postponed for a month the drive to pick up our new Sadie. Jerry and I decided she had already been in the kennel too long. We made arrangements with Pat to have her shipped from Portland to the Arcata/Eureka airport just around the corner from our home.
A Skinny Wolf Arrived
After a lot of nail-biting anxiety about shipping this old girl, I opened her kennel upon arrival and thought Pat had sent me an extremely skinny wolf! Sadie is a silver-brindle with an all white face: a lovely, very unusual color. Even after her flight, unsettling for any hound, she emerged with a wagging tail and a smile of relief. Ignoring the attentions of Dave (nine), Alice & Ruth (both five) and our six year old, one hundred pound chow/shepherd, Schroeder, within eight minutes of her arrival, she was enthusiastically exploring our house and yard. Esther, too, had been a brood bitch when she arrived at over 10 years of age, so we knew better than to expect Sadie to be feeble or slow-moving. We did not, however, expect her to display so many comical characteristics!
Motherhood Agreed With Her
Each day brings new proof that she thrived in her role of motherhood and living among batches of playful puppies. Sadie plays extravagantly with toys, tossing them to the ceiling and ripping helter-skelter through this crowded household with them. If other dogs snag her toy or Dave (The Play Police) barks at her, Sadie shows no offense, but just fetches another toy and resumes activity. Even when Schroeder attempts to play with her (well, OK, and mount her, too), she’ll put a paw on his back as though to instruct him in proper behavior and give him a cheerful “YAP.” She never gets angry, and we’re careful to assure he doesn’t push the point too far.
In our bedroom are two couches and two beds with comforters for each of the Greyhounds; there are dog beds and regular couches throughout the house like any other greyhound home. Sadie, however, seems to prefer closeness and, ignoring empty beds, has no qualms about curling up closely with any one of the others. This is new behavior to her housemates who are accustomed to lounging alone, but perfectly normal to one who’s been minding lots of puppies in close quarters. This happens even when bones and biscuits are passed out, so we’re watchful about this, too. Regardless of where or when Sadie is sleeping, she does it always with one paw hooked behind her ear, as though to say, “Have at it, kids, I’ll just be napping!”
Sadie: The Entertainer
Mornings are particularly entertaining since Sadie arrived. Butchie the cat, like clockwork, wakens us at 5:45 for his breakfast. When one of us gets up to feed him and make the coffee, the dogs know our bed is available to them for the coffee/news hour. Sadie is usually first up now, wriggling on her back and pawing at the air so energetically that she can’t keep an occasional “YIP” from escaping. If others are up there with us, she has no concern about stepping over and among (and on) all of us as though we were puppies in a whelping box. As a girl who has undoubtedly lived with scheduled routines, Sadie adapted to our own almost immediately. She expects our daily trips to Schroeder’s Swamp (nineteen fenced acres of natural wetlands) and sprints circles around me and the other dogs who follow placidly on my heels, like cows on the way to the barn. “Come on, you guys, it’s exercise time!” There seems to be no limit to her energy level!
Despite her very healthy appearance, we used Sadie’s arrival as an excuse to run blood tests for various purposes on all the dogs. We were comforted to discover Sadie’s CBC, chem panel, tick titers and thyroid tests all came back attesting to the fact that she’s a healthy and happy camper: motherhood agreed with her! Being a mother after her racing career, Sadie naturally considers herself Alpha, though she makes this point through sheer cheerful enthusiasm and without a hint of bullying. She’s just determined to be first at everything.
Still Sharp at Eleven
She’s no dummy when it comes to figuring things out. On the afternoon she arrived, she discovered in which closet the box of bones are kept and has been first in line ever since. It took Sadie about 10 days to figure out that Schroeder got treats every morning for fetching the paper from the sidewalk. Now, when he brings it in, she takes it from him. If only she’d figure out that she’s supposed to bring it to me in bed, like Schroeder does…. Once it’s there, however, she does love to shred the pieces we’re reading — mostly when she’s upside-down. This is just her way of making our little nest more comfy, I guess
Lately, our main attention-getter has figured out how to get even more: by finding boots in the very back of my closet and by pulling papers out of briefcases and articles off our myriad bookshelves. She never does this when we’re out, but only when she can bring the stolen articles to us for our amused responses. It’s impossible not to find it laughable. “Jerry, what’s that Sadie’s got now?” Jerry replies “Skeleton Canyon by JA Jance.” I say “Well, give her Stones From the River instead. It’s in paperback.”
I told you she’s smart. So are we. From now on, all our new greyhounds will be old greyhounds.
Cara and Jerry Brockhoff live in California. Cara has been operating The Northcoast Support Group, an endeavor that has donated thousands of dollars to greyhound adoption over the last decade.
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