She wakes you up at 4 a.m. with her yowling, and you’d best respond by throwing on a jacket and dashing outdoors. Sadie needs to pee.
Sadie is our six-week-old border collie, the newest addition to the Gidlund household. Until now, that has consisted of the “master” (70-year-old me), the mistress (my 62-year-old wife, Sally), and the queen (our five-year-old spayed kitty, Libby).
(The word master is in quotes because it’s only an honorific. I’m really not master of much of anything around here.)
A question we’ve heard from like-aged friends since we adopted Sadie two weeks ago is, “What were you thinking? Don’t you know border collies are a handful? And a PUPPY? Don’t you remember what it’s like to train them?”
Well no, we didn’t. And sometimes (especially at 4 a.m.) we really doubt our wisdom – and sanity.
But then again ….
Until three years ago when our last dog, Schatzie, passed away at age 12, a dog, usually a German shepherd, has always been a part of our family. Sally is an on-call hospice nurse, meaning she often sees patients in the middle of the night, and a dog in the car offered her a modicum of protection.
We wept when we lost Schatzie to cancer but consoled ourselves with the fact that now at last, we had FREEDOM! We could travel, maybe for a whole week at a time, without any cares.
If you have pets you know that, unless you’re going away for a prolonged period, cats pretty much take care of themselves. Just give them an extra-large bowl of food, a slightly running water faucet and a litter box. And when you return, they acknowledge you with a nod, if you’re lucky.
Not dogs. They need a sitter or a kennel, both of which cost a few bucks. And they know when you’re going. Just open a suitcase and start to pack and they get that aptly-named hang-dog expression that conveys the wretchedness you’re about to cause by abandoning them.
When you travel, if you do, you go with a guilty conscience.
So we’d made a vow that we’d had our last dog, and the whole wide world was open to us.
But we missed having a mutt around, and we missed some exercise too.
Sally and I stay fairly active: skiing, golfing, biking, going to the gym, but one thing we’d given up since Schatzie’s passing was walking. There’s a rule somewhere which states that, no matter the weather, you’re going for a morning and afternoon stroll with your dog. But when you’re dogless, it’s a rule easy to ignore if it’s raining or snowing or too hot or too cold.
Sally was the first to break.
One night a couple of weeks ago, she came home from a death with a report that the decedent’s home was in turmoil. Among the problems was the fact that the female half of their border collie pair had given birth to seven pups five weeks prior, when the folks in the home didn’t even know she was pregnant. They wanted to get rid of the pups.
The next morning Sally described one – turned out to be Sadie, of course – that was especially cute, the tiniest and the cuddliest.
It was pretty obvious that our vow was about to be broken, so after reminding her that border collies, of all dogs, need a job, I decided I’d better go along with the program. (Besides, I’d missed having a dog too, but hated to admit it.)
So, we brought Sadie, all 5 pounds of her, home. We fitted her out with a trimmed-down kitty collar with a bell and a 4-foot “leash” of parachute cord (so that we can pull her out from under beds and other inviting hideaways) and set her up in a “crate” in Sally’s sewing room which, conveniently, has linoleum floors.
The crate is actually our cat, Libby’s, carrier, but she doesn’t seem to mind another critter using it.
What Libby does mind, however, is that this interloper periodically attempts to smell her behind. We doubt that an explanation that “that’s what doggies do” will mollify her. But a few swats when the sniffing is attempted serve as reminders to Sadie that the queen’s dignity is not to be assailed.
We note that the pup does bring a bit of pleasure to Libby: It’s kinda fun to pounce on the end of that leash as it trails through the house.
Well, I’d better wrap up this first chapter on the adventures of bringing up Sadie and get to bed. It’s 8 p.m., and 4 a.m. comes mighty soon.