A shelter dog living the dream

Anyone who knows me knows that (I think) I’ve got a very special dog. I’ve written about her some, but not too much. I think it’s about time I told her story. I adopted Sadie when she was just three months old. She’s almost 10 years old now, so we’ve been together for a long time.

When I adopted her, I was living in Nevada City, working as a reporter at the local daily newspaper, The Union. I wanted a dog in the same way that some people seem to want babies. The craving came out of the blue and I took it as a symbol of the inevitability of settling down (boy was I wrong).

I decided I wanted a boxer. I have no idea why. Boxers seemed like a friendly breed with a sense of humor — and I liked the idea of a dog without too much hair. I scoured www.petfinder.com on a daily basis, keeping my eyes out for a boxer puppy.

On one bright day in August, there was a posting describing three boxer/blue heeler mix puppies. Was this my beast, I thought to myself? I drove  to the Nevada County Animal Shelter during my lunch break to become acquainted with the three pups. Sadie was among them — the only girl — and she went by the name Cheyenne.

In truth, I didn’t pay much attention to her; I was more drawn to her  brothers. One was brindle like her, the other had the fantastically exotic markings of a red heeler. They were bouncy and friendly, Sadie was a bit more reserved. I took her brothers out to play in the yard of the shelter. I was trying to choose one, hanging out to see if I’d bond with one over the other. Sadie was still inside, alone in her kennel.

Yes, I will admit it, Sadie wasn’t my first pick. It wasn’t love at first sight. But as it so happens every once in a while, she chose me.

Here’s how it happened:

I eventually brought the two boy pups back to the kennel and when I did, I opened the gate and walked inside, shutting it behind me before removing their leashes so they wouldn’t escape. Puppy love was everywhere, fur jumping up and down, kissing my face… I had to kneel down to remove the leashes and was swatting away ears and puppy teeth and everything else, it was like a mosh pit.

Suddenly, I looked down to see that the small girl dog had, ever so gently and politely, placed her head in my lap.

“Hi,” she said.

And with that, it was settled. She would be mine.

“I wanted a girl dog anyway,” I reasoned.

The funny thing is, now nine and a half years later, I am still trying to figure out life, but Sadie seems to know what’s up all the time. Sometimes I find this a little annoying, but then I remember that I’m 35 and she’s almost 70 (in dog years anyway). She’s had a remarkable life for a dog.

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Here are some of her achievements (and she’s not done yet!):

  • She has lived in Colorado, California, Alaska (and kindof Washington).
  • She has spent a total of about two weeks on Alaska Marine Highway ferries, but her tickets have only cost me a total of about $100.
  • She has travelled roughly 100,000 miles in a truck (this figure is based on the fact that I bought my Toyota Tacoma approximately 3 months before she was adopted and for the most part, she’s almost always my co-pilot).
  • She once sat upright and facing backwards the entire 300+ miles through Nevada.
  • On multiple occasions, she has taken a dump outside when the temperatures were 45 degrees below zero.
  • She has an unusual reaction to the word, “cow,” because of a particular incident with a herd of cattle (we don’t talk about that incident).
  • She has lived about 3 months out of every year with other people.
  • She has spent about 3 nights of her life in a kennel. She was petrified, but not as badly as when….
  • … she went to jail on two separate occasions after run-ins with Animal Control.
  • Sadie and her friend were once regulars at the Rendezvous Bar in downtown Juneau.
  • Sadie once took a crap in front of my former boss’s office — while he was watching her.
  • Sadie once got kicked out of doggy day care for playing too rough with her best friend.
  • She has accompanied me on several interviews during my investigation of an old unsolved murder.
  • Sadie doesn’t care too much about playing fetch, but she likes to chase stuff. Fetch is a goofy game anyway.
  • She knows how to skijor, but pursues that hobby on her own time with her other friends.
  • She is commonly mistaken for being a wild animal.
  • She tried to beat up a cop in Utah (she thought he was threatening me), but I held her back.
  • She’s been in two serious fights that landed her in the hospital with stitches.
  • She once leapt six feet off a deck and raced 50 feet across a yard to jump into a dog fight just for the thrill of the action.
  • She has been bear baiting and caribou hunting.
  • The only animal she has ever killed was a vole and it was an accident.
  • I’ve seen her get chased by a bird, a rabbit, a cat, a moose, and a bear.
  • When she got chased by a bear, she ran back toward me, turned around 20 feet from me, and stood her ground.
  • For the first 3 years of her life, whenever she saw another dog, she hid behind my legs.
  • One of her best friends, Ladakh, taught her not to be afraidof dogs anymore. Sadie taught Ladakh not to be afraid of people.
  • When my niece, Zizi, was a newborn, Sadie never left her side — except when Zizi cried and Sadie would hide in the bathroom.
  • When my niece Sophie was a baby, Sadie slept outside the door of the room where Sophie took a nap.
  • When I once moved across town, Sadie travelled all the way back to our old house (bringing a friend with her). It was a distance of about 7 miles.

And one of my favorites:

  • Unbeknownst  to me, for a while Sadie would accompany an old man with a cane on his daily walks. I saw her with him once and he told me that she always kept him company for about a block of his walk. He said it was the best part of his day.

But my absolute favorite:

  • Her favorite phrase is: “good morning,” which Sadie translates roughly as “I’m going to rub your belly.”

7 thoughts on “A shelter dog living the dream

    1. Thank you for stopping by to visit, Jodi. She is a sweetheart.

      Sadie has had the good luck to also run the gravel roads in Nebraska with Grandpa… and swim at Big Mac. I can’t believe I forgot to mention those things!


  1. Yay Brittany! You somehow forgot to mention the multiple times her very responsible owner lost track of her in Nevada City. I see to remember spending a bit of time tromping around looking for her. And, yes, cows.


    1. Oh Ms. Retrout… Oh yes. Those days. I also forgot to mention her first experience with a cat – which I am certain was Caspian. He touched her hind leg with a paw and she acted as though she had been touched by God himself. It was maybe the greatest moment of her life. I miss that cat!


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