OK, here goes. It’s time to begin the chronicle of Sawyere and his rehabilitation. There are two days before he’ll be driven from the shelter where he’s lived for three months, to here, and in those two days I’ll attempt to introduce the humans whose lives have been, and will be, intertwined with his. In the process, I hope to tell his story up to the point of his arrival here.
The most important figure in all of this is Sawyere himself, of course, and I will start by telling you about him. Let me make one thing very clear. Everything I write in this blog is just one person’s ‘take’ on things–my own. I always try to tell you if I think I might be wrong about something, or if I’m unsure. But there will be so many aspects of this project to write about that it’ll be impossible to issue enough disclaimers. So please remember that this is Sawyere’s story through my eyes, unless I tell you otherwise.
I first saw Sawyere’s picture in November. I read his description with interest, because it was one of the most honest descriptions of a dog with a behavior issue I’d ever read. It stuck in my head for that reason, and for one other, which I’ll write about next. Later, when the Sawyere post (his picture and information on Facebook) came across my virtual desk for the second time, I forwarded it (shared it, or ‘crossposted’ it) to a friend, so that she could help me network Sawyere. She had an interesting take on the honest description. She pointed out that there was almost nothing positive in it, and darned if she wasn’t right, when I checked carefully.
And yet, as I told her, I picked up a vibe from it that the person who’d written it was strongly pro-Sawyere. Whoever it was, he or she wanted him safe. I was sure of it, in my gut. But I did begin to worry that this could be a case of too much honesty. I knew, from having written dog descriptions for our local shelter, before which job I’d studied the guidelines put out by the people at Best Friends, the gurus of animal rescue, that one was supposed to put a positive or hopeful spin on things, while never being dishonest. Sawyere’s description had almost no spin. And when I noticed that, I began to worry about him, just slightly.
But why I did I care so much about this one dog? Even I didn’t know, and still don’t, really. But here’s the reason I mentioned earlier, the reason which may have been why Sawyere stuck in my head. The only time I’ve ever been bitten by a dog, it was a Chow mix. And Sawyere is a Chow/Pit Bull mix.
The one bit of spin in his description said that he was a Chow/Terrier mix, which was absolutely true. A Pit Bull is a dog from the Terrier family. I wondered if anyone looking at Sawyere’s picture thought he might have had a Chow mom and a Yorkie or Cairn Terrier dad. 😉 I doubted it. I liked that bit of spin–nothing dishonest about it; it just reminds us how lovely the entire Terrier family is.
Back to my reason. I may have written about this before. I was being trained to work in the kennel at a veterinarian’s office. The person training me was showing me how to take the dogs out to the runs for potty breaks and exercise. He let a group of three or four dogs out of their cages, and began shepherding them past me. Without breaking stride, a Chow mix bit me in the thigh, looked up at me with a very clear, ‘Got you, sucka’, look in his eyes, and kept on walking to the door and out. I could hardly believe it had happened, it was so smooth and quick.
I was wearing nylons that day, something I almost never did, because I had an interview for what turned out to be my second job. So the Chow mix didn’t quite break the skin, and I just had a big bruise and some red marks. I guess, looking back, that I should have managed to find my way into my present state of total dog immersion much sooner. Because that bite was a clue to me, or should have been one. I wasn’t in the least bothered by the bite, only fascinated, and I went in to work every day thereafter with a burning drive to make friends with that dog, who boarded there for quite a while. And I did.
There is one more possible explanation for why I cared so much about Sawyere, but I’m not ready to write that story yet. Briefly, I may have wished to save Sawyere because I hadn’t been able to save Toby. Someday, I will write about it.
The third time Sawyere’s post came across my Facebook page, he had one day to live. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to feel responsible for him. But I did. It was too late. He was part of the things I cared about, and he was close to home, too, being in the same state that I am. I felt that I had a response ability in this situation. And so I offered the shelter the funds to pay for his rehabilitation, and that’s where my personal Sawyere story began.
I believe that I’ve already put links in this blog to some of the Facebook conversations, or ‘threads’, that took place between those of us interested in Sawyere. The entries in question are in this blog’s January archives, and they’re called, ‘Red Letter Day For Dogs’, and, ‘…And Sawyere’.
Below the picture is the link to Sawyere’s original posting, so you can see exactly what I saw. Notice the date stamp on his picture–it’s important. He’s been in a cage for three months, today. The length of his stay, and knowledge of what can happen to a dog’s behavior when he or she is caged that long, is one of the factors which helped the shelter decide that Sawyere could be rehabilitated. In other words, Sawyere was a much better-behaved dog when he came in to the shelter than he is now, and everyone involved was smart and honest enough to acknowledge that, and to try to work extra hard for a happy ending for Sawyere.