Pet of the Month: Sawyer
Sawyer is a pet that we love to see on our schedule. He comes in, sweet and confident, tail wagging, and has no hesitation in sticking his nose in your hands to have his ears scratched. To him, the world was just a large park to explore, populated with people whose sole purpose was to pet him.
He was adopted from a local shelter over 10 years ago with the purpose to positively distract the owner’s husband who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It worked like a charm. Sawyer would sit with his head on her husband’s shoulder after his chemotherapy treatment and then force him to get up and take a walk in the fresh air. When he passed, Sawyer moved to rescuing the owner from depression herself with his daily happy greetings and smile.
A month ago, his owner took him across the street to an empty elementary school playground to walk around and enjoy the evening air. The relaxing night took a turn for the worse when another owner also brought his two dogs on to the playground. They were off leash. They caught sight of Sawyer and pack mentality took over and poor Sawyer was attacked. Despite his large size, Sawyer was unable to defend against two equally sized dogs and his owner screamed helplessly as she watched her dog savaged around the neck and head. They managed to get the dogs off of him and as she saw him lying there unmoving, she was certain he was dead.
Luck was on their side, however. A veterinary technician named Ken who lived locally just happened to be jogging by and saw the attack. He ran up, and found a pulse. He helped Sawyer’s owner lift him into her car and held the wounds closed on the way to the emergency clinic. Dr. Jade Huynh at United Veterinary Specialty & Emergency coordinated a triage, treating for shock and pain while evaluating the severity of the wounds, at the same time updating the frantic owner on his status and care.
Extensive surgery was performed to repair the wounds that tore through not just the skin, but several muscle layers, damaged the larynx (his bark will likely be forever hoarse) but just missed his carotid and jugular veins. He was sent home the next day bandaged and battered and on several medications, but alive.
His recovery from his physical wounds was slow and steady and by the book. Some of the damaged skin will slough off leaving a large scar on his neck, but when he came in for a recheck exam today, my heart smiled a little as I saw that tail start to wag again when he saw me, and although his confidence hasn’t fully recovered, his nose found his way quietly into my waiting hand. I happily obliged. The owner says that he is ready to walk around the neighborhood again, but still refuses to go to the playground.
Both his owner and I are forever grateful that Sawyer pulled through with his soul intact – because such a sweet dog deserves a long happy life. I also firmly believe that Sawyer, in a way, was the sacrifice needed to make sure the attacking dogs didn’t do worse to a smaller dog or even worse, a child later.
And that’s why Sawyer is our Pet of the Month!
Morals of the Story:
Please keep your dogs on leash when walking. Even if you have the friendliest dog who is great at recall – not every other dog you encounter will be.
Two dogs – even if big babies at home, can react differently when in the world. Don’t just know your dog – know what your dog is capable of and act accordingly.
Finally – NEVER step in the middle of a dog fight. Clap. Distract. Pull on leashes. Try to separate with a large stick…. but if you get bit, you won’t be able to help your pet when they need it most, and you can be permanently injured or have to undergo Rabies prophylaxis if the other dog is not current with vaccines