Sadie, my lovable black lab (1994-2008) and I were taking a walk through Greenbriar one fall evening when she was just over a year old. Our relationship was still fairly new, and we were still figuring each other out. Ah, dogs. They tell you so much if you will just listen. So there we were, walking along, went to the end of the long lane, then turned and headed back. About two blocks from home, Sadie disappeared into a neighbor’s yard, sniffing around. She had been doing this the whole walk, and I gave her a moment to investigate. She popped back out of the darkness of the trees and we continued home.
Once home, we went in through the garage, I took off her harness and leash, then we burst into the house at the kitchen entrance. Sadie did not go straight to her water bowl as she normally did after these walks, messily lapping up water then turning to look at me with her soft brown eyes as water dribbled from the leaky gaskets of her mouth onto the floor; no, this time she slunk directly into the sitting room, as my mom called it, or the unliving room, as I called it. Hmm, I thought, this is weird behavior. I followed her into the unliving room and turned on the light. I then noticed that she wasn’t panting after our brisk walk, but sitting and breathing heavily through her nose, black furry cheeks puffing in and out.
“Sadie, what to you have?” I asked her. She bowed her head but didn’t answer. I walked over to her and squatted down, holding my hand out, “Sadie,” I said sternly, “drop it.” Sadie gently opened her mouth and … a stick of butter slid out.
I picked up the butter and looked at it in wonderment. It was a perfect unwrapped stick of butter, but its edges were rounded where they had rubbed against Sadie’s hot mouth.
“Where on earth?” She still wasn’t spilling any secrets, so I was left to try to figure out where she got a stick of butter. I remembered she started acting differently when she popped out of the last neighbor’s yard. I worried the butter might be poisoned. It looked normal and smelled normal, though. Sadie looked at me expectantly. “Can I have my butter back, please?” Her eyes asked me.
“No,” I replied, “But you can have a bone.”