Real-Life Sawtelle Dogs
Simone was found by St. Louis Stray Rescue under a slab of concrete in a vacant lot with her two siblings. They were about 6 weeks old. We had two dogs but were looking for a pup. We saw her photo on the rescue website and hoped that we could get her. After the vetting process, we were granted the adoption of her.

A week later, she became ill. We took her to the doctor and told him about her symptoms. She was diagnosed with Parvo virus. We were so scared for her—not many pups make it through this disease. After a week of worry and Simone in the animal hospital, she came home.

She is such a joy to have in our home. She is the one who senses the mood of our household. She will be the one to meet whomever it may be when we come home. If the other dogs are with her, she is the first. If the others don't come to the door, you can be assured that she will be there. She sits next to you and cuddles when you are feeling down or physically under the weather. She walks with you as you move about the house.

We feel that she is always watching out for us and the other dogs. She is the communicator between us and the other dogs. She comes to get me and reminds me of breakfast or dinnertime or that the water bowl is empty by walking me over to show me the empty bowls. She will get me to the door if one of the other dogs needs to go outside. She will stand there and watch me open the door while the other dog goes outside, then turn and walk away as if she is satisfied. Simone's sensitivity to the people and the other dogs in our house makes her our Sawtelle dog. She truly does care for all of us.

This is the most loyal, devoted, affectionate dog I've ever had the priviledge of sharing my life with. He's about 3, a rescue and we are in love with all 15 pounds of him.

When we brought him home about a year and a half ago, he needed a name, so he was named Misha (which means "Bear" in Czech). An animal communicator asked him his name and he said, "Handsome." Oops. He's right, of course.

We think he is poodle and papillon because of his giant ears, his cuteness, curls and his affectionate nature. In addition to all that, he's probably smarter than I am and could easily give the Sawtelle dogs a run. His devotion is 24/7. Wherever I go, so does he. With few exceptions, he is in the same room as I (often on my lap), and if I leave, he follows (although maybe with a withering look as he uncurls from a nap). Then, he is either next to me or standing in the doorway of the room looking out like a guard—in the bedroom, kitchen, wherever, he is usually on duty. In the car, he sits on the seat and stares unwavering at the driver. I'd guess that he's thinking he'll take over the wheel if anything goes wrong.

He has three adopted siblings and gets along famously with them. He especially likes barking with them, as he believes he has a beautiful voice and loves to "sing." His people, however, find his voice a little loud and quite shrill, but that doesn't seem to stop him. We're just hoping he learns a song we know soon. We crate the dogs when we leave, and he started a game with the others. I think it's called "Race me to the crate," and now I need utter only one syllable and Misha and company have stampeded into their boxes. He pretty much always wins, but then again, it is his game.

On March 15, 2007, I was going to my best friend's daughter's wedding when a strong feeling came over me that I was not to go. I didn't understand it at the time but trusted my gut. I went to Petsmart instead.

They were having pet adoption when I saw her. Her name is Triple. She was approximately 2 1/2 at the time, skinny with sores. She had been part of a shelter that had to be destroyed with most of the animals, and she had the crud for a long time but pulled through. I decided right then to adopt her. I was in the line for the vet to check her when a lady came up to me and asked if I was going to adopt her, and I said that I already did. She said, "God bless you. If no one took her, we were going to put her to sleep tonight." It amazes me how Triple had the universe working on her behalf to find her the right home.

I can't begin to tell you how much love, joy and companionship that she has brought into my life. She has taught me so much through the years. She has had cancer surgery twice and surgery on both of her knees, yet she just keeps on going. I have learned from her that no matter what life brings you, it is your attitude that matters. Her love for me is unconditional; her eyes are so full of knowledge and life and love. My boyfriend and I lovingly call her "the Tripinator" due to her remarkable spirit.

Triple is beginning to lose some of her hearing and cataracts are taking her vision, but she knows that I will be her ears and eyes. She is slowing down, however she will still do her best to keep up with the younger generation. There will never be another Tripinator!

Jake came to our family when a school teacher noticed that my ADHD son paid attention in class after wrestling with a stray dog at recess a few days in a row. She gave us the number of a woman who rescues dogs that would otherwise have been put down. Our family went that night to the rescue home, and she apologized that she only had one dog to choose from, a mangy German shepherd cross that a man had brought it in from an Indian reservation in Canada near where we lived. My son loved him immediately, and Jake became one of "us."

When my sister had a hatch of baby chickens, Jake took to looking after them in a mothering way, moving in between the neighborhood kids and preventing them from picking the chicks up when they were too small to pick up. One morning, one was not in the box and Jake noticed that one of the 12 was gone. He worriedly trotted through the house, found it behind a chair in the living room, picked it up in his mouth and gently placed it back in the box. Later that week, my sister saw Jake playing in the faraway meadow with a pack of wild baby foxes. He was truly a Sawtelle dog.

I recently retired from coaching at the University of Virginia. While at UVA, I was unable to have a dog because I traveled so much. I grew up with a dog by my side, so my first task upon leaving Virginia and moving home to Wilmington, North Carolina, was to find the perfect dog. I started looking on the Web, scouring local magazines and checking out area animal shelters. My husband and I agreed that we would find a young, small dog that did not shed.

One day, while searching the Web, I saw a photo of a terrier mix located in a small town about 60 miles from home. My sister and I drove to the pound and were led back to a cage that contained three dogs: a not-so-friendly pit bull, the terrier that was leaping waist high and in the back corner a dog that was just sitting there watching my every move. I asked to see the dog in the back. This dog was very timid and scared. He was matted and filthy. With no idea how old he was or his physical condition, Cathy and I loaded him in the car and took him home. After numerous baths, brushings, some good food, lots of tender, loving care and a visit to the vet, Jib started feeling more comfortable with his surroundings. The vet felt like Jib was about a year old and some type of terrier mix.

John and I were amazed at how smart Jib was. With just a little training, he became the most well-behaved pet we had ever owned. Whenever we take Jib for a walk, people stop and ask us what type of dog he is. At first I would say just a mutt. But he looks like he may have some Wheaten Terrier and golden retriever in him, so we now refer to him as our Golden Wheat. Jib is not a small dog. He weighs about 30 pounds (medium size), and he sheds a ton! But his intelligence, loving manner and big brown eyes make up for those little shortcomings. No one is perfect, and he loves me anyway!

— Jan
My husband and I adopted Samson four years ago from a woman who brings rescued dogs to her farm. We went there for a 6-week-old puppy because I insisted on getting a one as young as possible. We got there and looked at the little ones. They were all cute, but none of them were "special." My husband was the one who spotted him and proclaimed him the "one." I was reluctant because he was 12 weeks, but the owner of the farm told us he was a good pick. "I see a lot of dogs" she said, "but he is a noble dog."

Samson had been in a shelter in North Carolina and his litter had been abandoned. He nervously chewed a hole in his foot during his stay and he would not make eye contact with humans when we first chose him. Over the first few weeks that we had him, Samson timidly got to know us and soon revealed his true personality. We came to know him as a loyal, people-loving, obedient companion. Big Man, as we sometimes call him, was the star of his puppy training class, effortlessly mastering the skills. He has a unique look that always draws attention. Wherever we go, it is inevitable that someone will ask "what kind of dog is he?" Samson responds by prancing proudly and offering anyone in his path his unconditional love.

He has been the center of our lives until about 6 months ago when the family dynamic changed with the addition of our first baby. We still love him as we did before our daughter, Adeline, was born, but sometimes he doesn't get as much time as we would like to give him. He has taken this change in stride and adopted a new role. Samson's behavior reminds me of Almondine's first moments with Edgar. He has made it his personal mission to make sure that Adeline is okay. When she is sleeping, he sleeps in front of her door, being sure to come and notify me when she makes a sound. He is a gentle giant whose priority in life is to make us happy and protect "his baby." I picture him being Adeline's favorite companion as she grows through the years.

— Karen
Our Sawtelle dog is Oscar. We rescued him from a pound in Phoenix. One day, I came home from work and noticed Oscar dragging his back leg. We took him to the ER vet, and they sent us home with a prescription and a diagnosis of bulging disc. The next morning, we called our vet as Oscar had completely stopped moving.

Oscar had degenerative disc disease, was paralyzed and underwent spinal cord surgery. Oscar survived but remained paralyzed. He was outfitted with a wheelchair and remained happy. We swam Oscar, massaged his legs and performed our own physical therapy at least three times a day.

That summer, (we run a girls summer camp in Wisconsin) before 145 girls, we vowed Oscar would walk for them if they sang loud enough. We chanted in unison, "Slide to the left, slide to the right. Oscar, Oscar, fight, fight! You'll walk tonight, you'll walk tonight." We took him out of his wheelchair, and I promise you, he walked!

— Pamela
When the student is ready, the teacher arrives. So said the ancients, and so said Harry, the seemingly unredeemable street dog who eventually transformed into a bodhisattva (one who vows to help others before entering enlightenment). He had wiry brindled fur, a beard like an Asian sage and highly intelligentual topaz-colored eyes. He had no name, just a number on the yellow card of his Humane Society cell, but I was enchanted. He wouldn't drink water from a bowl; a muddy oil-soaked puddle was more to his taste. Harry was truly a wild dog.

When Harry began obedience training, he resisted the mind-numbing commands with every ounce of his soul. It wasn't until my disheartened dog trainer introduced me to a canine aggression expert that Harry and I discovered a different way to engage Harry. In time, Harry's eyes grew soft and he took on a countenance similar to the Dalai Lama. He was calm, centered and exuded a sense of worldly wisdom and other-worldly perception.

The moment that most conveyed the change in Harry was when a client (I am a psychotherapist) was crying and Harry went to her and lifted a paw, then put his head in her lap. From that day on, Harry always responded to the needs of others. He once found a baby bird that had fallen from the nest and whimpered and pawed his foot in the brush until I came over and noticed it. He wouldn't leave until I had found a child to climb the tree and replace the bird.

When Harry walked, people stopped to comment on how extraordinary he looked. "What breed is he?" I could tell they expected some exotic hunting dog breed. Other people would say, "I know that breed! He is a Hunting Griffon, a Lurcher, an Italian Spimoni, a...." Harry was one of a kind. When Harry recently died, he received notes from fans as far away as Israel, England and Thailand.

— Cindy

Meet more real-life Sawtelle dogs!