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Happy Tail: Dogs who are problem children

There's Sadie, McKenzie, the Wild Child; Cooper, and Elmo. All, despite their behavior problems and low prospects of adoption, have won the hearts of the Peg and Keith at Sugarfoot Farms.
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By Peg Schaeffer

We have a lot of good dogs here, some great dogs, and some dogs I'd pay you to take. One of our problem children is Sadie. She is a hog fat black Labrador Retriever mix. Her owners called and said they had adopted her from a shelter and that she was too much for them to handle. The day they brought her here she was on a leash and was dragging them up the hill. They brought her in the gate, unhooked the leash and she never looked back. She was excited to see the other dogs and began playing with them immediately.

Sadie has no manners at all. If you're in her way she just bowls you over. She has knocked me down more times than I can count. Her favorite trick is to hit me in the back of the knees and I hit the ground before I know what happened. The other day I was headed out the door, clean clothes on, with my laptop in hand (luckily it was in the carry case) and Sadie came up behind me and got me in the back of my knees. Down I went, laptop flying, and my clothes were no longer clean. I think you could hear me yelling at her all the way in town. And the words I had to say weren't very nice.

She's barks and barks. She teases the other dogs relentlessly. They snap at her and she only barks more. She annoys one of our dogs, Vera, to no end. She will lunge at Vera. Vera will back up. Then Vera lunges at Sadie and Sadie backs up. They will go on like this until I break it up. Then Sadie just goes and finds another dog to bother.

There isn't a fence that will keep her in. If she can't jump it, she climbs it. And she doesn't stop until she's over it. If I walk away she proceeds to climb back over it. I don't know how many times a day I see her climbing over the chain link fence or one of the gates. Nothing stops her.

The only time Sadie is quiet, except when she's sleeping, is when she goes for a ride. She will sit in the back seat of the truck and you never know she's there. Sometimes when she's driving me crazy I just open the door to the truck and let her stay there. It's almost like putting your kid in time out. One day when I was at the vet's as I was unloading one of the dogs Sadie leaped out. A woman was getting into her car and Sadie jumped into her back seat, sitting up straight, proud as punch. No amount of coaxing would get her out. We laughed. I told her Sadie was going home with her and she did. The woman adopted her on the spot.

It didn't take long for Sadie to drive her new owner crazy. If she was working in the yard Sadie would be along her side. If she left the yard Sadie just climbed the fence to join her. The woman had two Yorkies and Sadie loved to torment them. So I got a call one night from the hysterical woman saying she was bringing her back. Our peace and quiet was short lived.

Sadie loves the water. Any body of water is fine. A mud puddle suffices if the pool is empty or even if it's full. She will wallow in a mud puddle, shake herself off and then jump on you. I know she does it on purpose. Today someone came to adopt a dog. As they loaded him into their hatchback, Sadie who had just taken a mud bath, climbed over the six foot chain link gate and before I could stop her, jumped into the back of the woman's car, then into her back seat and then into the front seat of her clean car. She then proceeded to sit in the front seat waiting to go for a ride. I told the woman I'd pay her to take her but she wasn't falling for that.

Sadie loves to sleep on the Kuranda bed - that is when she sleeps. She will sprawl out on it and go into a deep sleep. She has two speeds - on and off - that's it. When she's sleeping she looks so innocent - but I know different.

McKenzie is the Wild Child

McKenzie is another one of our problem children. I have written about her and her sister, KayLee. They are both black and tan and look alike. The only difference is that KayLee has double dew claws in the back. So to tell the difference I have different colored collars on them. The funny thing is they have a brother, Dylan, who looks nothing like them. He's black and white with the bluest eyes. He's well behaved and not at all like his mischief making sisters.

We call McKenzie the "wild child". From the time she was a puppy she was the one that was always into something. Unfortunately she has never outgrown it. One of her tricks is to jump on the counter. She doesn't need a chair to jump on first. She just bounces on to the countertop looking for something to eat. She's sneaky about it too. As soon as I leave the room or turn my back she's up there. She tiptoes very quietly so I won't hear her. All I have to do is see her and she's off. It's a rare occasion that I am able to sneak up on her. I'll yell at her and she just walks away with a look like she could never do anything wrong.

She likes to pick on the puppies. They can be walking along and she just knocks them over for no reason at all. They get up. She knocks them down. I yell at her and she just ambles away.

Her other annoying habit is getting into the garbage. We have a large tub that we put the garbage bags in. They're double bagged and the tub is off the ground. That doesn't stop her. She jumps from the ground into the garbage. She forages through it and when she's done shares it with the other dogs. Very considerate of her.

Cooper is another problem

Cooper is another problem. He was adopted from us when he was a puppy. He went to live with a family and their little boy. He was always very outgoing and playful. His owners had a baby. The baby was in a swing in the living room. Cooper came flying in the door, raced by the swing and sent the swing flying in one direction and the baby in another. Luckily Dad was able to catch the baby. So Cooper came back.

Cooper isn't in trouble all the time like the other two but he NEVER stops barking. If the dogs are playing you can always tell Cooper's bark. He can be heard above all of the others.

Elmo is another troublemaker

Elmo's another troublemaker. He likes to take things off the counter. He has long legs so he doesn't need to jump on the counter. If he sees something he likes he just helps himself. Hats, gloves, newspapers, anything in his reach is fair game. For some reason his favorite is the Kleenex box. It can be sitting on the counter for days and then one day he'll decide he'd like to chew the tissues. I'll come in and it looks like it's snowed all over the house, the deck, and of course the yard.

Sometimes they all gang up against me. Especially if I go downstairs. As soon as I hit the bottom step they're into something. They'll start barking at one of the other dogs or play with something they're not supposed to. You can hear them bouncing on the floor and barking and it doesn't take long to know they're up to something. Sometimes I'll race up the stairs but then they hear me coming so they stop and act innocent. Other times I'll quietly tip toe up the stairs to catch them but they always have a lookout. As I hit the top of the stairs they'll bark "watch out she's coming, she's coming". It's not easy to catch them in the act.

Why do I keep these problem children you ask? Who else would want them? You'd have to have a death wish to take on these troublemakers. But if you have a boring life they will sure brighten it up.

They keep me entertained with their antics, that's for sure. There are days when they can be perfect angels (that's not very often) but they make up for it the next day. They want to be sure to keep me on my toes. Yet they can sense if I'm having a bad day. They'll put their head on my knee and look up with those deep understanding eyes. Then later in the day, just like with children, they will go to sleep, and look like little angels, not the devils they are. But I'm not fooled - I know they're just building up their energy to drive me crazy the next day. And I retired for this?

- Peg Schaeffer, President and Founder, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

Contact us if you would like to help.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675

This story was posted on 2015-03-08 04:50:02
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Happy Tail: Dogs at Sugarfoot Farm Rescue supervise Keith

2015-03-08 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer.
Sugarfoot Farm Rescue dogs supervise Keith as he drives the truck loaded with dog food to the kennel. - PEG SCHAEFFER

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