Former shelter pup draws national notice

Sadie has some German shepherd in her, but no one knows exactly what else went into creating this perky and friendly medium-sized dog. At 8 years old, she’s no spring chicken, but when her owner, Kathleen Dale, gets out the tennis ball for some play time at Lilac City Dog Training Club, Sadie takes off.

“I’m the perfect owner for her, and she’s the perfect dog for me. We are a match made in heaven,” said Dale, while Sadie took a post-ball-chasing nap on the floor.

Just last week, Sadie got the kind of national attention that’s usually reserved for purebred pooches when she was one of the top five dogs whose photo and story were picked in the American Kennel Club’s Canine Partners Photo Contest.

“I couldn’t believe she did so well,” Dale said. “I’ve only had her for a year and a half. She’s come a very long way in that time.”

Hundreds of dogs entered the photo contest, a promotion for AKC’s Canine Partners program, which now allows mixed-breed dogs to compete in any AKC agility, obedience or rally event as long as they are registered with AKC.

“The photo contest was to identify dogs who would best represent the blended faces of mixed-breed dogs,” said the winner announcement on the AKC’s Web site. “Even with 20 winners slots to fill, the contest judges found it extremely challenging to narrow it down, as every dog entered had a compelling face and story.”

The portraits of Sadie were taken by local photographer Carla Haley at Critter Prints Photography.

Sadie had been around the block a few times before Dale found her at the Humane Society.

“She had been returned a couple of times. Last time she was returned it was for jumping over the fence,” Dale said. “And she couldn’t be in a home with other dogs, so that’s perfect for me.”

Dale had always loved dogs but had never owned one. After dog sitting for friends for three months, she realized she could have a dog of her own.

Problems she thought she might encounter turned out to not be a concern. “And I missed having the other dog around when it went home again,” Dale said.

Dale looked at many dogs at the Humane Society, but there was something special about Sadie.

“She looked at me and came over to me – and the next day I came back to take her out,” Dale said.

Since then the pair has been inseparable.

Dale said Sadie loves to ride in the car and takes long naps while she’s at work.

“Sadie really doesn’t like cats – that’s the only thing she tries to chase,” Dale said.

Because the two live on a busy street – and Sadie didn’t have a whole lot of obedience training in the first place – Dale took her to Lilac City Dog Training Club, 1612 E. Houston Ave.

“I can’t say enough good things about this club. Everyone here is so friendly and everyone works together so well,” Dale said.

She participates in obedience training with Sadie, who’s already earned her first title, for correctly heeling on the leash, doing figure-eights on a leash and being able to stand still for an exam.

“Sadie has come such a long way in a short time,” Dale said. “We have lots to learn. I just want her to obey me and obey me quickly so she can be safe.”

The pair’s next obedience competition is planned for early April in Seattle.

“I’m also interested in obedience because it helps dogs overcome some challenges,” Dale said. “It can help change their behavior so they don’t have to be put down – and that’s the best.”

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