Sawyer’s One Year Adoptaversary
One year ago today, I adopted my dog Sawyer, so I thought I would tell the story of his first year as a part of our family.
Before we adopted Sawyer, we already had one dog – my then-two-year-old Golden Retriever Isley – and three cats. I knew that I wanted another dog, because I feel like most dogs are happier living in pairs with other dogs to go on adventures with. My husband and I had discussed getting another dog, and he was on board with it, but we didn’t have immediate plans to get a dog.
So one day, my aunt was going to the Mower County Humane Society to look at a dog she wanted for herself, and I tagged along. I was going through the dogs, and there I saw Sawyer. My mom said it was love at first sight, and really, it kinda was.
This is the first time I saw Sawyer. All the other dogs were jumping and barking, and Sawyer was just sitting there with his tongue hanging out, wagging his tail.
When I met him, Sawyer had just been surrendered by his owner. The humane society didn’t know a lot about his previous home, except that Sawyer was his real name, and he’d most likely been an outside dog. They hadn’t had a chance to properly groom him – because he had just been surrendered – and he was covered in ticks. They eventually took over thirty ticks off of him. But fortunately, the vet check showed he didn’t have any lime disease or actually anything wrong with him. Based on what little vet records his previous owners had, we estimated him to be roughly three and a half years old at the time.
After I’d fallen in love with Sawyer, I filled out an adoption form and arranged a time for both my husband and our dog Isley to meet him. That meeting went great – with Isley and Sawyer most indifferent to each other and more excited about the humans around them – and it was official. We were bringing Sawyer home.
The first few days with Sawyer weren’t bad, but they did have some hurdles. There were a lot of things we took for granted by having a properly socialized indoor dog like Isley. At first, Sawyer was confused about couches and didn’t know how to get on them. The TV was incredibly fascinating to him, and he kept looking around for the sounds. He’s gotten used to it now, but he still enjoys watching TV from time to time. He also had no idea how to play to with toys. That was the strangest thing. You just expect a dog to understand what toys were, but he seemed genuinely perplexed by them. Now he loves to play tug of war and occasionally plays fetch, though his favorite game is still stealing toys from Isley.
Sawyer did have a few accidents at first, but honestly, he only peed in the house three or four times in the entire time we’ve had him, so he learned quickly. He also had a couple instances of destructive chewing, but once his anxiety went down and he got used to living with us, that went away.
The biggest issue we had with him at first was actually just how attention starved he was. He would climb up on my lap, and it would be a tremendous fight to get him off. He just wanted to get as much attention as he could for as long as he could. It took a few weeks, but eventually he learned the word “off” and as soon as we said it, he would get off and give us some pace. He still loves to cuddle and he can be a needy baby sometimes, but he’s definitely figured out that we aren’t going anywhere, so he’s not so demanding for attention, anyway.
Sawyer also had a great deal of crate anxiety and storm anxiety initially. I work from home, so I was able to be with the dogs most of the time, but whenever I left the house, I would crate both dogs because I didn’t know how Sawyer would do unsupervised. At first, before he’d go in the kennel, he would run and hide – sometimes behind the couch, a couple times in the shower. Then when I did get him in the crate, he would shake and tremble and just look utterly miserable. I would give both him and Isley treats when I put them in their respective crates, but Sawyer always refused to take his. He just cowered.
After a few weeks of this, he seemed to realize that we weren’t leaving him in the crate forever, and he stopped hiding and shaking, and he’d take the treat from me. It wasn’t a big deal for him anymore. Now when I leave, I don’t crate either dog at all, because I know I can trust them to not do anything naughty. (I suspect that they actually both just wait by the front door for my return).
The storm anxiety also lessened dramatically over time. It’s only when it thunders really loud does he get up and come over to sit by me, but he doesn’t shake or look terrified like did before. Although he still absolutely hates the rain. Sawyer actually doesn’t like being outside at all. He’ll go out to go to the bathroom, but he’s always excited to go back into the house. I try playing games with him and Isley outside, and Sawyer plays for a minute, then goes to sit by the door until I let them back in. I think being an outside dog for his whole life before living with us, he’s gotten more than enough time out there. He wants to enjoy the time in the house.
I was afraid how Sawyer would do around cats, but as it turns out, Sawyer – the big 70+ pound dog – is afraid of cats. My cats love dogs, and whenever one tries to cuddle with him, he gets up and walks away. He even lets them steal his food, and I had to watch at first a lot to keep Sophie out of his food dish at meal times. Sawyer defers to the cats and Isley all the time, letting them boss him around. Although he is not above stealing toys and cuddles from Isley whenever he wants them.
We did a DNA test on Sawyer, and determined that he was half Labrador/half border collie. I’d suspected maybe husky or German shepherd, so I was quite surprised. The interesting thing about Sawyer is how dramatically his coat changed from living inside and getting proper grooming and pets. He looks almost like an entirely different dog now.
His border collie genetics came into play when in June, Sawyer had a seizure. He’d never had one since we had him, so I was completely terrified something was wrong. After taking him to the vet, they ran tests and concluded that he epilepsy, a disorder known to commonly effect border collies. But otherwise, he’s happy and healthy, and he should still have a long happy life.
In the past year, Sawyer has really settled into life at our house. He’s the best cuddler ever, hands down. He and Isley get along great, and they love to play together, and I think he’s been a really good influence on Isley, who is a big spoiled baby. Sawyer seems so much more grateful things. He’s mature and mellow, and he listens very well. He’s a wonderful dog.
Sawyer is also wonderful with my eight-year-old stepson. Isley really clings to me most of the time, but Sawyer will cuddle with Gavin on the couch, or go upstairs and play with him. He doesn’t bite or nip, and he’s unbelievably patient.
Since I work from home, the dogs are with me. And when I say “with me,” I mean that the dogs are hardly ever more than four feet away from me at any given time. When one of them is gone (like at the vet or the groomer), I feel like an arm is missing. Both Sawyer and Isley are beside me, letting me bounce book ides off them, or calming me down when I’m freaking out about something, or cheering me up when I’m sad. At this point, I honestly can’t imagine my life without either of them.
I will never know the owners who surrendered Sawyer, but I want to thank them for doing it. I don’t know the circumstances of their life or Sawyer’s life with them, but I appreciate the fact that they realized that Sawyer could have a better life somewhere else. I know that Sawyer is very happy with us, and I also know that my family – including my husband, stepson, and Isley – is beyond happy to have him.