The daily life in 'the tropics', the high desert of the southwest and back to 'the tropics' with the hounds and a dog
It was August 2008 when I looked through the newspaper ads for bloodhounds for sale. The month prior I had lost the best bloodhound I ever had. (Bertha) She was Winston's best friend and they were inseparable. Some people say dogs don't mourn the loss of another dog but I disagree. I have seen it happen too many times with the hounds I have had over 31 years. Winston needed a new hound in the house. At that time it was just he and Sadie.
I probably wouldn't have bought another bloodhound even when I was looking, but there was an ad for bloodhound puppies just outside of town, less than 10 miles away. Both parents were on sight for me to look at their quality and their temperament. LOL ... A lot of good that did. Sadie turned out to be the most obnoxious, destructive hound puppy I ever had.
The 'backyard' breeder gave me pick of the litter, 8 puppies total, females and males, in red or black and tan. Their dad was a loud boisterous red, while their mom was a laidback, quiet black and tan. I wanted red, just like Bertha was. I took Winston with me when Sadie was 8 weeks old to see which one he liked. Who knows, he may have not been interested in a new puppy ... but that wasn't Winston's personality. He liked all people and all dogs.
I had picked a red female a few weeks before that was quieter than her littermates and was laying away from the group of puppies. It wasn't Sadie that I had picked weeks before. But on this trip I changed my mind. As the owner let all 8 puppies out of their pen into the yard to check Winston out ... one red female puppy distinctly latched onto the heels of Winston as he walked, nose to the ground and followed Winston every where he went. I took that as a good sign ... so I chose Sadie (who didn't have a name yet). I found out a few years later from a professional bloodhound breeder that what I took as a good sign was really a sign that she was a 'tracker' not a 'couch potato'.
That bloodhound breeder that told me she would have never let me adopt Sadie because all of her 'tracker' puppies went to Search and Rescue or Police Departments. She was explaining to me why Sadie was just a destructive puppy inside even while I was home. Boredom!!! She had to track scent.
It didn't matter though ... Sadie and Winston were instant friends. He took care of her like she was his puppy, just like Bertha had taken care of him because she thought of him as her puppy. The saddest part was during those first years I lost all of the puppy photos I took of Sadie due to my mistake. I thought I had my PC backed up and reformatted my hard drive to fix the issues I was having with a PC ... only to find out that backup did not happen and I had just erased my computer hard drive and all of her photos.
It did not take long for her to claim the large leather chair with the ottoman. She was still using this chair every night to sleep while I watched ballgames or movies for a little more than 10 years.
Due to her strong nose and no signs of discipline I always had her tethered in the field when she went outside on her own. That did not keep her from getting into some kind of trouble. One Sunday morning I went outside to check on her and she was standing at the corner of the house with these bumps from head to toe. 30 minutes after giving her some Benedryl all the bumps disappeared.
Why did I decide to keep her attached to a leash at all times??? On a cold snowy December day in 2009, she Winston and I were taking a walk in the field the exact same path taken today. She was a year old and loved the snow. She liked walking but rarely would lift her nose from the ground. Once she saw her first deer staring at us, standing in the field behind the field we walk in, she SPRINTED AFTER THAT DEER and never stopped.
The last time I saw her, Sadie was running toward that AT&T tower you see sometimes in my photos. Winston and I ran back to the house as fast as we could to get the truck and see if we could catch up to Sadie ... I couldn't find her. I talked to every neighbor living in that area and no one had seen her. I was almost sure that someone would take her if they could catch her. I thought I had lost my bloodhound.
5 or 6 hours later I heard something hit my storm door in the carport that opens to the kitchen. There stood my 1 year old bloodhound puppy with her tongue hanging out to the floor panting, drool on both sides of her mouth and a look in her eye that she had 6 hours of pure fun chasing that deer and finding other scents to track. So in 2009 I decided that Sadie would be leashed at all times and even tethered in the back if I were outside in the backyard.
She didn't mind it and I did not realize until looking through more than 13,000 photos I had taken of her since the computer crash, that she went on walks attached to the 25' retractable leash until she was 7 years old, 2015.
She never barked at them but she would sit for hours staring at the birds on the fence or the squirrel that made numerous trips back and forth on top of the fence. Some times she would sit there when the screen window was open and feel the warm breeze from the south/southwest in the summer. She probably would have stayed outside 24 hours a day if I would have let her.
She liked yogurt and would always be last in line to clean out what was left of the container. Sometimes it was three hounds in front of her that had to get their licks in or two hounds in front of her. Either way she always licked the container spotless, never chewing the plastic.
The same thing went for the cottage cheese container. She might have to wait in line until I tossed it to her but there was enough there for her to lick out every last drop of cottage cheese.
The thing is about being a 'tracker' her nose never took time off. It didn't matter where a scent was located, she could find it's source.
She had not been to the next door neighbors yard since she was a puppy. She looked at the new neighbors in the summer of 2018 but didn't go further than this. When she was a puppy, it was a different story. The only reason I found her next door that morning as I was getting ready to leave for work ... I didn't see her, she didn't come when I called her name ... she was baying like the perfect bloodhound sound that had chased something up a tree.
Only this time she had found rabbits in a cage on the side of their garage ... just like the day I saw her loud boisterous dad ... standing on two legs and howling loud and louder. I assured the neighbor his son's rabbits were safe and he would not see my bloodhound in his yard again. Needless to say he was not amused.
I knew when she was in this pose she was having fun.
In that 7 acre field it was amazing how she would lock into only one scent and would lose all consciousness to the outside world.
As she got older she understood the rules ... not allowed in the front yard was one of them. She rarely got further than the landscaping bricks.
She loved to go for rides in the car ...
No matter how small the area would be for her to sit or lay down.
It really wasn't until the past three years that she figured out that if she stared at me long enough I would say "okay, lets go for a walk". In fact her obsession with walks did not really start until about 2015.
Indoor or outside ... if she gave you this stare ... she wanted to go on the walk. She would not stop starring until she got her way.
If we had already finished the walk and that wasn't enough ... she would give me her stare again to keep walking.
I would have never thought a bloodhound would be a retriever. That is not in their AKC bio but for some reason Sadie LOVED playing fetch ... outside or in the house when the weather was bad.
As she got older she was allowed to roam the field by herself, no tether ... total freedom. Sometimes it would be longer than an hour when I would go back a second time and I would see her tail above the weeds or grass in the field. I cannot remember one time even as a puppy that she was ever close to or on the highway. She always stayed in back, in the yard or the field.
When I would stand at the edge of the yard calling her name ... she always came running home.
She loved to run as fast as possible, just to run, not chasing anything in particular.
Her ears might get in the way at times but they never seemed to slow her down.
In September 2013 she took a long 9 hour road trip down to Arkansas. I was going to buy that Lil' Snoozy trailer you see in the background. That's a whole different story that I did blog about at the time. Didn't matter what the results were, as you can see Sadie was stressed out and not happy being away from home. She rode in the H3 Hummer okay but I could see here she was a homebody. She was more than happy to get back home.
A couple of years later I had the urge to go camping in Colorado and Utah ... hounds and all. I needed to do a test in the backyard first to see if the hounds were capable of sleeping in the tent. We slept outside for three nights in a row and they all passed with flying colors. At that time I had Winston, Sadie and Heidi. As you can see at first Sadie wasn't going to get near that tent ... let alone inside. I thought my travel plans were over before they got started.
She gradually got curious enough to walk toward us since Winston and Heidi were already inside and had picked out their sleeping spots in the 3-person tent. Plenty of room for a big bloodhound to stretch out for the night.
After the three of them passed the test, we were on the road a few days later. First stop was Rifle SP, in Colorado. It was hotter than hot in June and it didn't take long for Sadie to claim the bowl of water as hers.
Next stop was out by Floy Wash, NW of Moab and south of I-70. After all the traveling we had done in a couple of days Sadie's appetite took over and once I spilled a full bowl of kibble, she was eating it off the ground as fast as possible. Winston wasn't going to eat unless it was in his bowl. Heidi was giving Sadie a run for her money to see who could eat the most kibble the fastest. As you can see, traffic was not a problem.
Out in the middle of nowhere Utah, the hounds slept soundly. It was hot, late afternoon by the time we set up the tent. All three traveled well in the FJ and adjusted their eating schedule to when we could stop at Rest Areas or when the tent was set up.
One thing she always liked was chewing sticks. Not swallowing any stems she chewed off ... but biting them off into 1" pieces. I just assume that chewing these sticks gave her the same feeling she had as a puppy when she would chew off the nylon piece of the shoestring tip ... only one per shoe. She did that to every pair of shoes I had, if they had shoe strings.
On August 30, 2015 Sadie's world changed ... for the better. At first Stella didn't know what to think about Sadie and Sadie didn't know what to think about Stella. This photo was taken within the first 15 minutes that Stella arrived after our 4 hour drive from Eastern Kentucky. You see that Stella was now the one tethered.
Sadie still wasn't sure about Stella later that night but one thing she was sure of ... that was her bone and she wasn't sharing it with anyone.
Within 24 hours they were best friends and if you didn't know them you would have thought they were from the same litter. They did everything together ... except play fetch.
Sadie became an entirely different bloodhound with Stella being the same size and just as strong. Sadie had spent her first 7 years living with two basset hounds. She had never seen a dog as big as Stella. As a puppy Winston had let Sadie climb all over him, chew his ears, chew his bones and take his blankets but Winston wasn't this big.
Both of them loved to play and they loved to run.
At the end they always stood still as possible so they could figure out what each other's next move would be.
Then they would take off again.
Winter snow didn't slow them down.
Neither did mid-summer heat.
With all that wrestling and running all day ... they were exhausted by dark. Winston was more than happy to share his couch. He was one of the most laidback basset hounds I had ever seen.
Sadie eventually convinced Stella that she did not have to open the door on her own to go outside and it was to her advantage to stay inside wait for me to let them outside.
She taught Stella how to track scent in the field, since Stella was more of a 'couch potato' than a 'tracker'.
Sadie may have tracked on her own sometimes on our walks but she always kept an eye on Stella, since she was a world famous escape artist.
She also showed Stella that you could run full speed out in the field and in the yard.
There was never a day, no matter what kind of weather it was or what time it was ... that she didn't love being in that field.
As a trade off Stella taught Sadie how to relax outside and that she didn't have to follow her nose every minute of the day. It was a rare thing to see but Sadie did start spending more time sitting instead of tracking.
No matter what, there was always room on the couch for three hounds.
Stella also taught Sadie how to expand her boundaries. Here, she is in the woods that are behind my burn pile. A definite violation and she knew when I called her she had gone too far outside of her boundary.
Stella taught her how to stand and observe while on the walks. She found out her nose worked just as well 3' higher than dragging on the ground.
She didn't mind getting wet from the early morning dew.
Since that first time running after a deer in the snow as a 1 year old ... she always enjoyed the snow.
She loved a lot of things as you have read up to this point. Yet, I swear the sparrows got her to play with them on purpose. They never flew away but back and forth across the field as Sade would chase them. No barking, just running and keeping an eye on them no matter what angle she had to hold her head to see them.
She also liked to lag behind us on our walks. Sure she had other stuff she wanted to smell but she liked nothing better than to run full speed to catch up with Stella and I. Most of the time I never had to call her to get her to come toward me.
In the middle of December 2015 Winston hurt his back as we woke up one Saturday morning. (Why does everything bad happen on a Saturday morning with these hounds?). Once she saw me helping Winston outside and that he could no longer go on walks with her ... she decided she had to take care of him. She became a nurse to him, staying with him and always checking to see if he was okay.
She could tell that something was wrong.
The morning I left with Winston and he didn't come back with me, she jumped in back of the FJ and sniffed every inch of that cargo area where the dog bed was. He wasn't there. She checked the food dishes, sniffed the couch and then jumped up in her large leather chair. I know that she knew he was gone. I think this picture shows it.
I forgot to add that in June 2011 we had a new addition to the house. Sadie wasn't as curious as she was when Stella showed up four years later but she was more than happy to claim Heidi's brand new dog bed as hers. She thought it was an even trade once Heidi walked in and found Sadie's blankets to take a nap on. They never fought about sleeping arrangements, the spot on the couch or food ...
After Winston was gone in January 2016, Sadie became the leader of the pack. That doesn't mean she fought with the other dogs or stole their food. She became like a mother to Heidi and Stella, always checking on them when they came back inside or were in the yard after a walk. She would touch noses with Heidi every time Heidi came back inside the house day or night.
The night before she died we took a late walk because of the high temps during the day. Everything was normal, nothing looked out of place. She tracked the field, she ran full speed multiple times and spent the night in her big leather chair while I watched a movie. When I went to bed late that night she got up as always and went to sleep on her dog bed in the corner of the bedroom.
It was a total shock what early Saturday morning brought. She was so sick she could barely walk, showed no signs of pain but while I went back to the bedroom to change into different cloths and grab my phone to call vets ... she wandered about 30' into the field next to the return path. She couldn't move and what little chance she had I had to get her to a vet.
An hour later she was gone.
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