Sadie’s Story – Successful Adult Dog Adoption

17th Nov, 2023

Written by René Loest

Professional photography by Emily Lime Photography

Working with our local shelter, Potchefstroom Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), closely over the last four years, I’ve come to realise there’s a stigma around adult dog adoptions. “No, I don’t want an adult dog. They won’t fit in with my other dogs. I don’t want the hassle of house training or potty training. I don’t want the baggage that comes with an older dog.” A puppy is deemed less work or cuter.

Sadie’s story is aimed at encouraging people to visit their nearest shelter, adopt an adult dog, and share in the dog’s milestones and accomplishments as they settle into their new home and experience all the love they have to give.

Begging eyes

When we picked Sadie up from the shelter, she was underweight after having just raised nine babies and been a wonderful mom. She was so shy, tail between her legs, afraid of any quick, abrupt movement and very untrusting of humans.

The car ride home was filled with begging eyes. Begging not to be just dropped off somewhere like before; begging that this time please be different, that these humans would be different; begging to be loved and seen for the wonderful dog she is.

On the first few days there were some clean-ups while house training but, with the help of our other three dogs, she quickly got the hang of doing her business outside. She slept on the cold hard floor – she didn’t understand the purpose of a doggy bed. She didn’t understand the purpose of a treat as reward for good behaviour or encouragement. She hid from people wanting to give her scratches. When attempting leash training, she’d hide in a dark room and not get out until the leash was taken off. She was very greedy with food and after cleaning out her bowl, she’d go to the other dogs’ bowls and try to eat their food also.

Our other three dogs are very vocal, and we always get a happy howl when we get home, but as soon as our dogs would start howling or barking, Sadie would run and hide in a small, dark space. Everything was strange and her self-confidence to attempt anything new or trust a human to be good to her were non-existent.

We gave her love, attention and small kisses when she was comfortable with it, and continued to show her she can trust us and our other three dogs.

The beauty of progress

After being with us for two weeks, Sadie jumped onto our bed one night and snuggled closely to my chest. I immediately shed a tear because of how far she’d come. From lying on the cold floor and hiding in dark spaces to trusting me to love her.

Then she began chasing tennis balls and playing with soft toys. She started calling my husband to the kitchen for late-night treats, understanding that treats are a good thing.

Recently, we walked around two blocks on the leash, and she went to the vet for the second round of vaccinations and went around to every single person at the vet’s office to ask for scratches, tail wagging all the way! She went out with us on her first adventure and walk, a 7km trail on a farm outside of town (photo attached). This was a big step as it involved a car ride, a leash walk, other dogs, and farm animals.

She’s no longer greedy with food; she knows the food will be there tonight and in the morning, and she even allows the other dogs to eat with her from her bowl. She’s even started howling with the other dogs when we get home.

Small milestones, big change

We’re proud parents today – proud of Sadie for how far she’s come. Trusting humans to be good to her. Having the self-confidence to walk on her own through a strange neighbourhood on a leash. Learning the ways of our household within a few days. First potty outside. First night of sleep on her doggy bed. First happy howl because she’s glad we’re home. All these small milestones she achieved every day and continues to achieve daily, and being part of her journey towards healing emotionally has been such a privilege.

I really wish for everyone to experience this and give an adult dog the chance to have a good life again with a loving, caring family and not die of old age in a concrete, metal cage at a shelter because adopting a puppy seemed easier or cuter. 

Thanks for taking time to read Sadie’s story.

Check out these helpful articles about dog adoption on our website:

How to find your soul dog

Tips for new shelter dogs

Helping a new shelter dog settle in

The benefits of adopting an older dog

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