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A tale of two dogs

Actually three dogs and two sets of humans.

One dog (and her human) could use our help. One dog got help — from readers of this blog! — and now has a happy tale to tell.

Because it’s long, I’m trying the “more” code for the first time. And to my amazement, it appears to be working! When you get down there, just click to read the whole entry. You’ll get to pat yourself on the back if you do.

First, the dog(s) in need:

The tale of Fuzzy and Tatter Sawyer


This is Tatter and Fuzzy. They’re littermates, about four months old when this picture was taken in January. They both belong to a New Jersey man named Tony Sawyer.

Tatter got kicked in the head by a horse. She recovered, but had to have her eye removed (as you can sort of see in the photo). Not cheap.

When Tony was picking her up from the vet after surgery, somebody brought in a litter of parvo-stricken puppies.

Shortly after going home, Tatter got parvo. There’s no cure for this disgusting disease, just an intensive and expensive course of rehydration and monitoring at the vet’s. Fortunately, Tatter recovered.

Tony dug into his resources again. By this time, though, he had used up his meager savings and maxed out his credit card.

Then Fuzzy came down with parvo. And once again, Tony took care of his beloved dogs. Fuzzy, too, recovered.

With no resources left to pay the bills, Tony turned to various rescue organizations. None of them could help directly because Tatter and Fuzzy aren’t rescues. One of the groups, though (the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Fund, aka ARF) checked Tony’s story, agreed to help him raise funds, and set up a Chipin to pay the remaining bill.

The funds were originally to go directly to the UPenn vet clinic, but they refused to accept third-party donations (details here). So Tony borrowed money from a friend, paid the bill, and all donations will go directly to Tony to help him repay his friend.

Because donations are going directly to a dog owner, a lot of people are reluctant to contribute.

That’s totally understandable.

But you know, in rescue we see so many dog owners who won’t lift a finger for their pets. Local groups in my area are dealing right now with a formerly respectable family who, when times got a little tough, just quit feeding their dogs (among other bad things).

I think Tony Sawyer deserves a lot of credit — and support — for going the extra mile to do right by his animals. I chipped in. I hope you will, too, even if all you can spring for is a few bucks.

UPDATE: I now also have a snailing address for Tony Sawyer for anyone who prefers to contribute that way. Just let me know and I’ll email it to you.

And the HAPPY tale of Sweetie!

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know the story of Sweetie the deaf, heartworm-positive (and woefully misbehaving) cattle dog.

First found in Georgia, she was taken in by rescuer (and freedomista) Mary Lou Seymour. After Sweetie was rejected by more foster homes than I can remember, Mary Lou, Oregon ACD specialist Linda Watkins and I put our heads together. Then we appealed to you. And you guys came through in amazing style. You not only got Sweetie to the Northwest with your donations, you pitched in again to complete her very expensive heartworm treatment.

Sweetie recovered from her heartworm. And during her long months of crate rest she was blessed to have two foster dads who adored her. But the foster parents weren’t equipped to deal with her behavioral issues. Eventually, Sweetie went back to a stressed and over-dogged Linda.

Fortunately, Living Freedom blog readers came to the fore again. One in particular. Mike, a resident of Washington state, an experienced dog guy, and a patient understander of herd breeds, had recently lost one of his two dogs. He and his wife Becky spoke up for Sweetie. And after weeks of discussions and everybody on both sides making sure, Linda drove to their home just after New Year.

Here’s how things went when Sweetie met her new “brother” Nigel for the first time.

“Humph. I don’t think much of him.”


“So I’m gonna play hard to get.”


“Welllll … maybe he’s okay after all.”


That meeting happened six weeks ago and Sweetie has been at home with Mike, Becky, Nigel, four cats, and a bunch of chickens ever since.

Mike’s been wonderful about keeping ML, Linda, and me up to date, telling stories about Sweetie’s first experiences at the dog park, with the birds, with the very patient Nigel, with human visitors, and with the cats (only one of whom remains disgruntled with her; herd dogs can be terrible with cats, so that’s pretty good).

I haven’t blogged this happy tale until now because … well, I’ve been holding my breath. Sweetie has been rejected or shuffled around so many times in her short life that I didn’t want to report, “Success!” only to have Mike and Becky turn around and say, “Please. Get this crazy dog out of here now!”

But when I last touched base with Mike, he was able to report, with complete equanimity and good cheer:

Sweetie is here for the duration. She continues to get better as far as manners are concerned. Since she’s been here, she has managed to bite everybody I know that has stopped by for a visit. Today we had nearly a dozen people over for several hours and she didn’t bite anybody and was actually making the rounds for pets so we are definitely on the improvement curve. In any event, we like her a lot and she’s staying.

She’s smart, affectionate and a real pleasure to have around. Nigel likes the company and they play together a lot. The only problem that pops up is Sweetie will get possessive about things such as a food dish, toy or even a favorite place to lay down and if Nigel gets close she’ll jump and snap at him. Usually he just backs up and gives me a look like WTF but sometimes maybe he’s just had enough and really tears into her. There hasn’t been any blood but I know he’s hurt her on a couple of occasions because she went off to hide and lay down. She strikes a low profile for a couple of days and then she’s back at it.

All us rescuers think Nigel’s response to Sweetie is exactly what she needs — along with this amazingly understanding and patient home — to help her through her remaining problems. (And BTW, Sweetie isn’t actually “biting” — which would be serious cause for putting her down. Her very bad habit has been to do quick “snake strikes” that scare the heck out of the unwary but never physically connect. She needs to unlearn this behavior, and now, with Mike and Becky’s saintly patience and Nigel’s big brother discipline, she’s beginning to.)

So hooray and thank you, Mike and Becky! And more thanks to all who helped lead Sweetie to this amazing happy home.


  1. Karen
    Karen February 18, 2013 12:18 pm

    Gosh I love doggie days!! They always give me positive hope for the people of this world when so much looks so grim. I hope folks come thru for Tatter and Fuzzy and I’m happy to hear that Sweetie seems to have finally found a devoted forever home.

  2. water lily
    water lily February 18, 2013 12:39 pm

    Oh, I hope Tatter and Fuzzy’s papa gets covered. What a great guy!

    So happy for Sweetie! Hooray!

    This post makes up for some rescue horror stories I read earlier.

    BTW, pass along the word that Beneful dog food is making dogs very sick (as well as chicken jerky treats made in China.)

  3. Claire
    Claire February 18, 2013 12:49 pm

    Awww, you guys are great. Somehow I’m not surprised that the two of you are the first to speak up. I’m also not surprised that after being stalled at $460 for days, Fuzzy Sawyer’s Chipin went up $25 within half an hour of posting the blog entry.

    WL — Totally seconded on Beneful and the Chinese chicken jerky. Furrydoc warned me years ago that many of the patients she saw that had chronic digestive troubles were being fed Beneful. And when lists are compiled of the quality of dog food based on ingredients, Beneful barely qualifies as food! It’s worse than some of the crappiest no-name dog foods. I’ve been hearing for a year or more about those Chinese jerky treats killing dogs. I gather that nobody has yet proved causation. But the correlation is high enough that I sure wouldn’t let my dogs have them.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 18, 2013 1:11 pm

    There’s one of the lists I’m talking about. Beneful is alphabetized under Purina. Typically, it gets a 17 (grade F) out of 100+ potential points. Some super-premium foods get up in the 120-point range. Even the Kirkland food that’s the best I can afford to feed gets 110 points. So you can imagine how awful Beneful is.

    What really hacks me off is how the packaging is all covered with veggies and the scam-vertising (and even the name) are all about how healthy Beneful is.

  5. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou February 18, 2013 4:01 pm

    Oh, I am so very happy … Sweetie is finally ‘home’ … bless you Mike (and Nigel) for being so patient with her …

  6. Terry
    Terry February 19, 2013 7:24 am

    Claire, I don’t really like online pay setups – is there a snailmail addy for Tony Sawyer? You can email me with it if you’re authorized to give it out.


  7. Mike
    Mike February 19, 2013 8:00 am

    Nice stories, Claire. Good to hear Sweetie has a home that’s working out for her.

    I’m working from home today (and thankful that I have a boss that’ll allow it) keeping an eye on a very unhappy husky who got into some antifreeze yesterday. The vet says she’s going to be OK, but the part about the money is certainly hitting a little close to home today.

  8. Claire
    Claire February 19, 2013 8:06 am

    Terry — Thank you. I don’t personally have snail info for Tony Sawyer, but I’ll ask ARF if they can share it with me. If so, I’ll email it to you.

  9. Claire
    Claire February 19, 2013 9:38 am

    Mike — Oh, antifreeze! I’m so glad you caught it and got her to the vet in time!

    And money … yeah, vet care is getting more expensive all the time. I’m fortunate to have a good small-town vet who understands her clients’ economic realities and bends over backwards to help. Even so, it doesn’t take much to bust the budget these days.

  10. Claire
    Claire February 19, 2013 11:44 am

    Terry and all: I now have Tony Sawyer’s snailing address for anybody who would rather mail a donation. The lady from ARF would appreciate knowing the amounts mailed so the fundraiser won’t be in danger of overpaying Tony. But you can remain anonymous.

    Terry, I’ll email you. Anybody else who wants the snail addy, just let me know.

  11. EN
    EN February 19, 2013 11:51 am

    Glad to hear about Sweetie. It didn’t sound hopeful to me. Dogs like her can be so disruptive to a family. Mike and Becky have my respect.

    On the subject of vet care, disposable income is just about gone in the US. We are fast approaching the economic end for a lot of businesses that provide less than necessities. Only rich societies can take care of their “pets” as well as we do. Sadly that’s just about over.

  12. Water Lily
    Water Lily February 20, 2013 9:22 am

    Cheap, horrible pet food and treats like Beneful, etc., are a terrible scam. Before I got my Nikki in ’08, I began ongoing research on pet food. I learned a lot. (I like grain-free kibble for people who cannot afford to feed raw, and for ratings.)

    Annual and even 3-year pet vaccinations are also a scam. Dr. Ron Schulz DVM, did a 30-year study and discovered that one shot gives lifelong immunity, and anything more contributes to a weakened immune system and chronic allergies, etc. Think of the money vets are making from pet owners, playing on their emotions and fears, and creating lifelong pet “patients.” On an ironic note, if people are too broke to get ongoing shots for their dogs, maybe more dogs will be healthier, both physically and mentally.

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