1. Cooper
It's not enough for Cooper Alexander to be close enough to me. It seems as if he must touch me with his paw to feel that I am all right.

He's always been protective of my son, but I've never seen a dog behave in this way. I am pregnant with my second child, and this is Cooper's first time protecting the pregnant. It must seem to Cooper that this will be a very long nine months. He won't leave my side. If I am hungry, I get up to walk out to the kitchen and he will follow. If I need to use the restroom, he will lie beside my feet until I get up to move into another part of the house. Cooper has become absolutely so protective of me and my growing baby, he can't let a noise go by unbarked or ungrowled.

At only 6 years old, our family pet has taken on the responsibility of our own personal security alarm. If a door is half open, he will nudge it open the rest of the way just to check out the room first and then proceed to lie down as if to tell me "all is clear." I've tried to calm his fears when he would hear someone walk up the steps or open a door, but this job is just too important for him to stop now.

As I am writing this, he let out a very long sigh, almost as if he knows I am writing this about him this very moment. When the baby is here, maybe he will finally get some rest, but I doubt it. This is what he now knows and what he seems to enjoy doing the most—keeping his family safe from any harm. Even if "harm" is only the soft howl of the wind.

— Dyan

2. Jett
When I adopted this sheltie, he was the runt of the litter with an underbite. The breeder thought I should pick another dog, but Jett won my heart. I was told that if you take care of a Sheltie for the first years of their life, then they will take care of you for the rest. 

Until he was too big, I kept him in my pocket. I was kicked out of [a convenience store] twice for having him in my pocket—somehow they did not believe he was my Seeing Eye dog. He is a very sweet, calm guy who follows me wherever I go. His intense way of looking at me I call the "Look of Love." He is always there to give hugs and a tail wags. 

When he was 3 years old, he had a blister on his lower gum by the incisor. It turned out to be cancer. I brought him to [the vet] and he operated on Jett, removing most of his lower jaw. Now, Jett has the biggest overbite you have ever seen. This was a time in my family where there were several diagnoses of terminal cancer. I sat down with my young nieces and nephews and explained what was going to happen. They felt his lower jaw, which in a matter of a week had made his bottom teeth crooked and it felt very strange The lessons were many: This is cancer feels like; does cancer mean Jett is going to lose all of his fur? No. We had a good laugh over what Jett would look like if he was bald. 

Since his operation, my Jett has taught me so much. He uses his tongue and paws as tools. He can still play Frisbee with all of his heart. He goes through life just as happy as any other dog. He protects me and guards me. He endures the comments from people, "Oh my, is that dog ever thirsty. You should get him a prosthetic jaw," or "Shouldn't you have just put him down?" On second thought, it is me who must endure the comments. Jett does not care—he is full of life and love and ready to play. But, when it comes to times when you need a hug, he is the most loving little guy who leans in with his head on your heart. 


3. Mia
Mia is my "Sawtelle dog." We are not sure what she is. We have often thought of having her DNA tested, but something always kept us from getting it done. Now, it just does not matter. All that matters is that she is so happy to see us when we arrive home—even if we leave for just a few minutes. She knows when we are not feeling well and will snuggle up on your feet to give warmth and kisses. She's always up for a walk or a ride in the car. She never complains when she needs to be groomed, go to the vet, has to take medicine, or needs to be left out of a room for awhile. When its time to play she shares her things. She is the first to bring the ball, toy, bone or dead mouse from the yard. She loves her sister dogs, Ginger and Lilly, and her cat sister, Zorah. Although she is the bigger dog, they run all over her. She's the "gentle giant" in our home. 

We often say that Mia is a rescue dog, but the truth of the matter is that Mia rescued us. She has taught us the meaning of unconditional love, of true gratitude and appreciation. Every day she is grateful for her life with us and she demonstrates her love for us in her protectiveness towards us, her obedience, and her loyalty. It never waivers. We can count on her to be there, a beacon of commitment to our family as we are commited to be there for her.

— Katherine

4. Tuff
One chilly afternoon in February 2007, a small black puppy showed up in our pasture with a severe trauma head wound. The vet said he might not make it, but if he did, he might have a neurological deficit. The vet also said that he would weigh about 40 pounds at full size. 

Well...he made it and now weighs 65 pounds and is solid black with a few white hairs on the end of his tail and on his tummy. His name—Tuff. Tough enough to have made it to us and tough enough to have survived his injury and thrive. Tuff is one of five dogs that we love and live with but has the most common sense and never leaves my side inside or outside. His best friend is Lucy, our German shepherd. 

We were lucky that chilly day. Tuff has a forever home and is forever loved. No one can tell us what breed he is a mixture of—no real breed characteristics here—just a special little boy who is the best fetcher in the world!

—  Teri

5. Griffin
It was the eyes that got me. Isn't that always the case? Voluminous and forgiving eyes spoke longingly of past love, loss and present-day needs. His eyes were black-rimmed and trusting, set in a silvery-white face. I could almost swear it was my first service dog, Booker. No, not looking for a senior rescue dog. No, waiting for a young, fully trained dog. Who could imagine I would ever see those eyes and that face again? Not in this lifetime. But Griffin grabbed my heart and pulled me in, fast as quicksand. Was there any logic to adopting an untrained senior rescue dog? Griffin's eyes told me there was. There was an unspoken promise in those wise eyes.

He needed me as much as I needed him. We rescued each other. Even though I knew he could not be a replacement for a service dog, he could fill a void left in my heart. I had no other expectations. Griffin had his own ideas. He quickly learned to walk on a loose lead beside my wheelchair. Defying his years, he dashed with unbridled glory through tunnels and obstacles in an Ability-Agility class designed for people in wheelchairs. We were both reaching beyond our dreams and our limitations.

One day, I showed Griffin the telephone with its special handle. A curve of gnarled wood mounted on a strip of leather held years of tooth marks and scents. I gently placed the phone in front of Griffin, holding it as if it were a sacred object. His black nose twitched, breathing in years of enticing smells. With a glint in his eyes, his nostrils flared. He snuffled it. Sniffed it. And with remarkable ease, keenly grasped the handle between his teeth. Give. Good boy! It rapidly became a game of hide and seek. "Go get the phone," I'd call, and off he'd run. Griffin just as eagerly learned to retrieve items or pick up anything I dropped, carefully placing objects in my lap. 

Affectionately nicknamed "The Griff," he does it all with a wag, a smile and a swagger. I am finding rescue appreciation is boundless.

— Carol

6. Cameo
Cameo was the love of my life, my soul mate. I wasn't sure I believed in such a thing until I met her walking into our veterinary hospital one day in November of 1994. I was recently divorced and not looking for a dog, even though I had worked at this clinic for 14 years at that time. When I set her on the table for an exam, she covered my face in kisses. She was diagnosed with heartworms. We called the owners, but they picked her up and took her to the pound. 

I had a dream about her that night—something I never had done with any other patient. I put a hold on her and picked her up four days later. She never left my side for 10 1/2 years. We went tandem through both the pain and joy of raising two teenagers on my own. She was always next to me, sleeping under my desk at work and by my side on the floor at home. She loved to swim and would take to water on her own accord. Like bookends, she would lean against me at the river and watch everyone and smile. She was always smiling. 

She loved children and let the troubled ones at my own children's school (where I volunteered) read to her and let them snuggle into her warm, soft neck. She was a therapy dog until I hurt my back so bad at work I couldn't take her anymore. She would play dead for the patients at the care homes and smile at them all. Even though she had a hard first five years, she lived beyond all expectations of her life span, healthy and happy. She was 15 1/2 when we had to part.


7. Bailey
Bailey was my 17th birthday present from my mother. He was a spunky, adorable puppy who grew into an attentive, loyal dog. He was by my side through thick and thin in my last years of high school. If I was upset, he would come comfort me; if I was happy, he was happy.

When I gave birth to my daughter, Kylee, he became her best friend too. He kept watch by her crib, baby swing and, of course, high chair! He truly was a helping hand in raising her. They would play with his beloved tennis ball in the yard for hours. Bailey went blind in the summer of 2006. Even faced with blindness, Bailey figured a way to still play ball with Kylee. Even if it took him five minutes to sniff out the location of the ball, he wouldn't give up, and Kylee would always wait patiently. He was the protector of his girls: Kylee and myself. He loved us and kept vigilant watch to keep us safe always.

We lost Bailey back in February 2008. Our heartache still cannot be measured. We'll never forget him. Kylee and I will be eternally great full for the love and joy he brought into our lives.

— Trisha

8. Pico
Pico is our long-haired German shepherd who has been a true delight and blessing in our family. I feel she is very much like a Sawtelle dog in many of her characteristics. She is very attuned to me emotionally—when I am happy or sad she seems to know.

Believe it or not, there have been times when I've called to her in my mind and she will come to me. This has happened on multiple occasions. Once, I happened to be upstairs and I called to her to come, and the next thing I knew, I heard her paws clicking on the hardwood floor and she presented herself to me. Pico is most especially kind to and loves children, of which there is an abundant supply in our neighborhood.

— Lisa

9. Kane
Our Sawtelle story begins with a contradiction to his breed. It is such a wonderful blessing to have this animal as part of our family. He is a puppy at heart, fun, smart, affectionate, obedient and so much more. His name is Kane. He is a 105-pound pit bull. People may have their opinions of this breed, but he will change anyone's mind in a heartbeat.

Kane is a great protector, playmate and cuddler. He greets everyone with a scary bark and a big lick for dessert. For those that don't know him, he can be quite intimidating. Then once you get a good look in his will see the true character of this sappy soul. We could have never asked for a better dog. He is protective of our children, yet lets them climb all over him, poking every eye and ear they can reach. It is the most adorable thing to watch. You must see it for yourself! No other dog can compare to him in our eyes.   

— Deidre

10. Zoboo
When my son was almost 2 years old, we began the search for a dog. We were being careful as my son was so young. We had to be sure there would be no aggression. Every dog we found would run up and knock him over or be up in his face licking. We had almost given up when we stopped at a small, rundown no-kill shelter. We went in and explained we were looking for a puppy. We were led to a shepherd mix pup. He had the biggest ears we had ever seen! Our son was several feet away, waiting for the dog's test. So many had failed before him. We let him approach. He walked straight up, gave him a sniff, looked him right in the eye and walked around him. The pup never gave any sign of any dominance at all. We fell in love immediately! 

On one of our last visits before bringing him home we tested new names. He responded to none of them. My son had heard us trying and had caught on to the process. He suddenly yelled one of the names we had thought of at home. "Zoboo!" he called. The pup went right over him—Zoboo it was! Short for Zoboomafoo. 

Zoboo is almost 9 years old now. They have grown up together and are best pals. Zoboo has proven that he is a special dog. We were told he was a shepherd/huskie mix. We began what would become a regular pattern of taking guesses on his real breeds. Wherever we go, he is the topic of discussion. Wolf, greyhound, maybe elkhound...the inquiries are endless. We considered testing, but really enjoy his mystery. 

Zoboo has guarded my son from neighbors in play. He has protected our old cat we had from our new puppy. He lets children love on him without a care. He greets any dog and has an instant new friend. He is easygoing and loves his family. Everyone who meets him always walks away saying, "Wow! This is the coolest dog ever!" I believe it was our destiny to get together. He has been a true blessing. 


11. Max
Max is my Sawtelle dog, a mix of purebred, soft-coated Wheaten terrier and sensitive, loving human being. In 2003, I lost my job. I managed to find some part-time work, but as a member of the Over 55 Club, it was hard. Perhaps it was time to give back. How? 

My beloved Great Dane had recently passed. With no canine BFF and an absence of colleague camaraderie, my mind-set as strong, self-confident, top-of-the-world woman was fighting the inevitable downward spiral of doing nothing and feeling worthless. So, on a day of deepening despair, I was invited to the home of a dog breeder. As I entered, I could hear the sound of puppies—everywhere, rollicking puppies! Balls of chestnut hair with dark moon-shaped faces. Such begins the life of a unique dog affectionately known as the "leprechaun of dogs." And so began my personal journey of returning to a life worth living. 

My host offered me a puppy then named Blue Boy, but only if approved by the puppy. I quietly waited as Blue Boy sniffed and played and interviewed me as only a puppy knows how to do. Finally, Blue Boy sat on my feet. I waited for his decision; he fell asleep. And with that simple act, Blue Boy said yes, and his acceptance was better than any job offer, promotion or position of human top dog. 

Now named Max, we grew up together—he from puppy to dog; me from taker to giver. We trained together and grew into an Animal Assisted Therapy dog team, visiting hospitalized children, challenged blind children, retired nuns, convalescing adults and beloved seniors. We energize caregivers, cheer hospital staff, calm anxious families, teach proper doggy behavior and help people not to fear dogs. 

Max is patient, oh-so-soft to pet and forever wagging his Christmas tree–shaped tail. Max is a true Sawtelle dog. His unique gift is the ability to give until he sleeps and wakes up to give again. He's taking me on his joyous journey through life, and I'm gratefully blessed to be along for the ride.

— Carole

12. Lincoln
Lincoln was a rescue dog when we got him two years ago. He was found living in a den beside a trash Dumpster in Syracuse, New York, in the winter cold.

Lincoln is the most amazing dog. He knows more people in the neighborhood than I do. We walk every morning at 5:30, and people greet him that I don't even know—seriously! He greets all the children who walk to school and has one every special friend who actively plays with him through our fence (even lying in the snow to bond). When my family all died last year, his constant presence was truly a Godsend. He knows what to do to make me laugh, and he is gentle and kind. He doesn't read my mind, or talk for me, but he truly is a great dog. 


13. Kellie
Our Sawtelle dog is not only a mystery in her parentage, lineage and breed—the first two years of her life are a mystery! Two years ago, she traveled in a minivan, three days and nights all the way from the streets of Juarez, Mexico, to the San Francisco Bay Area. We met the rescuers in a parking lot where Kellie managed to wobble out of the van and into our lives. Days later, I came to know how plagued she is by car sickness. I can hardly imagine how much she suffered during that long drive on her way to her new life! 

We like to use the clues she gives us to guess how her life might have been before coming to us. But the questions persist: What was her life like as a homeless dog in Juarez? Who stopped to pet her? Feed her? Did she ever live in a house? She obviously never rode in a car!

Today, Kellie is a confident, content, well-loved member of our family. It took lots of lost breakfasts, but drives to the beach are now Kellie's favorite activity!


14. Molly
Molly, an adorable Bernese mountain dog puppy is our Sawtelle dog. Despite being the runt and not bred for show, the beauty and intelligence of the breed became evident to me as soon as she joined our household. We got her the week before I started reading the book, and I honestly did not make the connection immediately. I started thinking about her more and more as I read about training and dog relationships. She is so attentive and looks directly into your eyes. I am amazed how she quickly learns from our dogs Jake and Lily.

Molly was my image of the Sawtelle pups, but for two differences. I could not imagine her living in a kennel for more than her first 7 weeks. She is a house dog. The other contrast of Molly with my image of a Sawtelle dog is sad. Molly's breed does not have a long lifespan. I like to imagine the Sawtelle dogs being a long-lived breed with relatively few problems.


15. Callie
To me, a Sawtelle dog is not about what the dog looks like, it is about the pure essence of the animal. An essence that has so many layers and runs so deep, it can be hard to fully comprehend. 

My dog, Callie, has so many qualities that make her special. I could tell you how smart she is. She brings in the paper and mail, takes the laundry to the laundry room, brings in the grocieries, understands complete and complex sentences and more. I could tell you how athletic she is. She goes on 14-mile hikes with us and is a Frisbee-catching champ. 

But what really sets her apart could only be shared with you by the nearly 100 abused, neglected and disabled young children she visits every month. To them, she brings comfort, joy, entertainment, compassion and unconditional love. She seems to have an uncanny intuition that allows her to quickly select out the child who needs her most. She has been called an angel and a Godsend. To me, she is the essence of everything good the world has to offer. She is love, compassion and boundless joy.


16. Casey
I adopted Casey from the Humane Society in 2002 when she was six months old. From the moment I brought her home she became my shadow. At this point in my life I was on the verge of divorce and the last thing I needed was another mouth to feed, but I needed to have dogs in my life to fill an empty void. 

The other dogs I had were out of control and acted like savages, much like I did. Casey was always calm and sympathetic to my needs. She constantly put her paws on me or sat quietly against the wall and stared at everything I did. Because she was the quiet dog of the bunch I neglected her attention and rarely played with her; I thought of her as just part of the pack. 

After six months of having Casey I was forced to leave my husband and the family home. The hardest part was leaving the dogs, but I had to do it. He told me he would take care of them, a promise he did not keep. On the day I left the home, Casey was the only dog that ran behind my truck down the dirt road; she knewI was leaving for good. I had to stop and put her in the truck and take her back to the house. I fell in love with her that day. I will never forget the sad expression and the look of goodbye in her eyes. 

After I was able to live on my own again I wanted to see her, I was then told the truth, Casey had been living in the wild and would not come to anyone. My parents would take food to her at my old house and she would obviously eat it, but they could not catch her to take her to a new home. I went to the house to see if I could find her and this scrawny little white dog bolted out of the woods and into my arms. I still have her and she has a great life now, as do I. She has an angelic presence with eyes that look right through you. I will never understand her unconditional love for me and the understanding that she has for my emotions. 

— Cody 
Mia Mona Lisa

17. Mia Mona Lisa
My Sawtelle dog is Mia Mona Lisa. My husband rescued Mia as a puny little 8-week-old for my birthday when we were dating, now she is 5 years old and our first baby (albeit a fur baby). She is our oldest daughter and watches and protects our two youngest girls and now just recently our baby on the way. I have had complications in my pregnancy, and yesterday was a tough day. This morning, I awoke to find Mia cuddled against my belly as if protecting it. And before reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle I would've just shrugged it off as her being cute and cuddly. But after reading Almondine's chapter, I know it is no coincidence. She has felt the nervousness, the stress, the worry in the house, and although she might not understand it or have the language to express it, I now know she does.

— Angeline
Georgina's Sawtelle dog

18. Emma
I'm not sure her outer appearance immediately shouts Sawtelle dog, but look in her eyes and you will see that in her heart and soul she is one. Everyone that knows her comments on how different she is. Not only does she listen to everything that is going on around her, she senses it too. If I am sad or feeling low, she comes to me, keeps touching me with her paw and stays at my side until I start to feel better. Yet, if i am angry or upset inside, even if I have said nothing, done nothing, she will get up, give me a look, then leave the room. She won't come back until all the negativity is gone. She does the same thing with my husband.

She watches television. She recognizes the words or music of the commercials that have dogs in them. No matter where she is in the house, she will go and stand in front of the TV waiting for the dog to come on. For 13 years she has watched The Oprah Show in the afternoon. If I forget and don't turn the television on, she barks at me until I do. (If Sophie came on, she went right up to see her.) People can't believe how attuned she is. She looks you in the eye. She hates sunglasses and won't acknowledge anything you say to her unless you remove them. Intelligence, as in Sawtelle dogs, it's more than that. She can communicate.

She has been with us for 13 years and added so much to our lives. Now, despite all the meds and vitamins we give her, she can't walk much anymore, much less navigate our stairs. We have moved her downstairs. She has her own TV and a huge bed to lay on but what she wants most is our company. That's not hard to give. She greets us all through the day with love and joy just for being present. Despite her aches and pains, she seems happy. She exudes gratitude and absolute presence in every waking moment. Like Edgar and his Sawtelle dogs, it is she who has been teaching us.

— Georgina

19. Piper
I read this book in August and have not been able to get it out of my mind and heart. My sister lent me the book, and when I was done I just couldn't return it. I just felt that I needed to keep a copy near, as I knew I would want to go back and reread some or all of it.

We adopted a dog, Piper, from our local animal shelter in January, and as I was reading the book, I kept thinking of her as a Sawtelle dog. She is beautiful and smart and looks you right in the eye. She has the calmness and inquisitiveness of the Sawtelle dogs, and when you speak to her, she frequently cocks her head to one side as if she were really trying to understand what you're saying.

— Nancy

20. Lexi
I am loving what little of the book I have read so far. I think this book is going to especially touch dog lovers/owners. I can actually feel the warm dog muzzle that is described in the books. I know the comfort a dog brings. How can you discuss this book without entertaining dog stories?

We have a 3-year-old golden retriever, Lexi. And though we didn't rescue her, we adopted (or I should say purchased) her from a reputable breeder. I felt strongly that I needed to have the decks stacked in my favor if I was going to bring a dog into my family. I had small children, and this dog was going to have kids around her. We visited the breeder...who interviewed us! We met the pregnant mom, filed out applications, etc. Once the puppies were born, we visited them many times before they were 8 weeks old and able to be adopted. We had to sign paperwork that if we were to ever get rid of the dog, the breeder had rights to her first.

But as a result of this fine breeder, training, yes, and that Lexi is a golden retriever, the result has been a wonderful, gentle, loving addition to our family.

— Shari, member of the San Diego Moms Book Club

21. Man
We adopted Shadow (a.k.a. Man) just a few weeks after losing our dear, old, sweet female pup, Pepper. Man was adopted from a no-kill shelter in Sterling, Massachusetts, but his life started in Virginia. He was found as a stray at only 8 weeks old and made his way to Massachusetts and straight into our hearts.

On that day, we were greeted by no less than 50 squirming, adorable puppies, and I thought, "How will we possibly choose?" But my husband, who says Man did everything short of an old soft-shoe to gain his attention, knew almost instantly as he proclaimed, "This is the one!"

Man is quite mischievous and is the most independent dog I've ever known. He still holds fast to some habits which were gained in his first few weeks alone in the wild, but thank goodness he's deserted some as well, like eating bugs, worms and leaves!

Each morning when I awake, I watch my husband rise, go straight to Man and pat and kiss him. I wait and listen for the words I've heard him say every morning in those last five years..."I'm so glad you picked me. I'm so glad you're my boy." And I smile.

— Lynn

22. Albie
Albie was a stray. She survived in the woods on her own for a winter in Iowa. She still hunts like a wild dog, but she now brings me the catch. (I guess she doesn't have confidence in my skills.) She reminds me of Essay—independent and loyal—with a clear sense that she is an equal. I think she makes a decision every day to stay with me and not walk back to the woods.

— Kathleen


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