The Sawtelle dogs' bloodlines

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Showing 1-16 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 10, 2008 8:58:30 PM PDT
Can anyone help me remember (1) who were the dogs that we know were bred into the Sawtelle dogs' bloodlines; and (2) what were the qualities or characteristics for which they were chosen?


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2008 6:59:07 AM PDT
Remember in the beginning, the first line in fact, John Sawtelle (the grandfather) is described as being "born with an extra share of whimsy", so I think, taking your second question first, there was often a sense of some intangible that struck John, and he just knew he needed to add that dog's qualities to his line, starting way back with that remakable dog Captain, that he met while on the fishing trip that also led him to find the farm he later bought. The fact that he worked with these intangibles both irritated and fascinated Alvin Brooks, the man who co-founded the Fortunate Fields project, and who corresponded with John. John managed to get some blood in the line from the Fortunate Fields dogs, by a mating with a close relative of the great Billy (I think his name was) and even more amazing, from the bloodlines of Hachiko, the famously loyal Akita from Japan. So those three are the only ones I remember being named, of the foundational stock.

They seemed to all share some above average cognitive abilities, and to have great heart and loyalty, to want to work with and not just for a person, although there are real dogs, such as German Shepherds and Dobermans about whom that also could be said.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2008 8:59:09 PM PDT
Dawn, thank you for your helpful and thoughtful response.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2008 11:09:54 AM PDT
the dog that Dawn refers to as Billy; the actual name was Buddy and it was a female. One of Buddy's male siblings actually sired one of the Sawtelle litters. Buddy was German Shepherd.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2008 11:46:34 AM PDT
Your correction has been noted! And in looking to find Buddy's name, I also came across a reference (on page 172) in a letter from Alvin Brooks where he speaks of the Fortunate Fields dogs as being German Shepherds, a fact I'd glossed over on first reading, and kept wondering about; they seemed like German Shepherds, but then I couldn't find where it had been said.

I still don't know where you found the gender of Buddy to be female. Would you tell me where in the book that is? I did find the place on pg. 175 where Alvin suggests a pup be given to a girl, that the pup would be Buddy's paternal nephew or niece, but that does not reference Buddy's gender. Oh! I found it! On pg. 174, where Alvin is talking about Amos! Yes, he is a sibling of Buddys. So there you are, Cheryl, it was Amos, NOT Buddy who came into the Sawtelle line.

Thanks Nina!

Posted on Sep 2, 2009 7:30:27 PM PDT
Mamahedgehog says:
Further info about Buddy. She was a female as were the following Buddys who led Morris Frank for many years. You might find the book " First Lady of the Seeing Eye" an interesting look at what this dog did to open the way for future guide dogs to be able to enter restaurants, trains, buses, hotels etc. I was so excited reading this story about Edgar Sawtelle when they talked about Buddy as I knew Morris when I was a child.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2009 6:39:07 PM PST
R. Carson says:
Believe Buddy's name was originally Kiss. When she became Morris Frank's guide dog, he thought he would feel foolish calling her that, and so gave her a 'regular guy's' name.

Posted on Dec 17, 2009 7:19:03 AM PST
I continue to be elightened by aspects of this novel. Now I'm off looking into Morris Frank and Buddy, and when I was reading the novel I had no knowledge of them, or who Buddy actually referred to. Did Wroblewski mention anything about the actual history, and were the Fortunate Fields dogs supposed to be seeing eye dogs? I donated my copy of the book to my local library during a time when so many (hundreds) of people were on the waiting list to read it, so now have no easy means of looking things up about it any more.

Posted on Feb 18, 2010 5:11:20 PM PST
M. Roper says:
Dawn it didn't say in the book but I am almost certain the Fortunate Fields Kennels wew located in Switzerland.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2010 6:31:21 PM PST
Oh, that does surprise me. I felt all along it was somewhere out east, in this country!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2010 6:13:58 AM PST
Scotsqueen says:
In the chapter "The Letters from Fortunate Fields", the letters from Alvin Brooks come from Morristown, New Jersey, and the one on page 177 contains the phrase "Here at Fortunate Fields ...". Alvin Brooks is the fictional third co-author that David Wroblewski added to the book "Working Dogs"; he is described on page 173 as "one of the original breeders on the Fortunate Fields project".

Also on page 173: "Fortunate Fields had originated through the philanthropy of a woman named Dorothy Eustice, whose idea was to breed dogs to help humanity--in particular, as guide dogs for the blind. An institution called The Seeing Eye had been established to carry that work forward."

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2011 11:47:43 AM PDT
David J. says:
This thread is old by now, but Google "Dorothy Eustice" and you'll find a description of the real person who provided the backing for the "Seeing Eye." In the early 1950s my parents lived just outside of Morristown, New Jersey, and became friends with Morris Frank and his wife, whose name I can't remember. I don't think Morris Frank's German Shepherd dog of that vintage was the original "Buddy," but perhaps in the same lineage as the original and was named "Buddy."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2011 2:58:12 PM PDT
Thanks for the information. I'm still getting notified of posts to this discussion, which was a lengthy and very interesting one. I wish now I hadn't donated the book, I think it might soon be really interesting to re-read, although I actually rarely do that. Plus, this ending was so horrific -- that hasn't faded in my memory!

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 11:39:04 AM PST
My otherwise great enjoyment of this book has been very much diminished so far (I am 2/3 through the book) because of (1) misinformation about the Seeing Eye philosophy of dog training and (2) administration of Tylenol (acetaminophen) to a dog by the protagonist. Hopefully nothing similar will turn up in the last third. To illustrate how wonderful the Sawtelle training is the author forcefully depicts the Seeing Eye as having vehemently as well as stuffily promoted the inflexible idea that the dogs should show "blind" (forgive the pun) obedience. That is entirely false and to my mind, as a Morristown resident and Seeing Eye donor, amounts to slander of the Seeing Eye history and philosophy as well as one of the major and extremely crucial elements of training; that is "intelligent disobedience" See this from the Seeing Eye website under FAQs: "4. How does a dog know when to cross the street?
Dogs don't see colors the same way we do and can't read traffic lights. The dog's owner learns to judge the movement of traffic by its sounds. At the appropriate time, he or she will command the dog, "forward." The dog will not carry out the command unless it is safe to do so. This is called "intelligent disobedience." " I have seen "intelligent disobedience" demonstrated. So the Seeing Eye has exactly the Sawtelle philosophy, not the opposite. Secondly, I am horrified that the supposedly dog knowledgeable protagonist and presumably somewhat dog knowledgeable author would nonchalantly administer Tylenol (acetaminophen) to a dog. I just hope no reader follows this practice based on the book. It appears the author knows quite a bit about dogs. It's a shame that he could not produce this otherwise excellent book without a flagrant misrepresentation of a wonderful organization or a dangerous pharmacological action.


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2012 9:44:56 AM PDT
"Buddy" from Fortunate Fields breeding was a female, featured in the wonderful non-fiction book, First Lady of the Seeing Eye.

Posted on Oct 19, 2014 12:19:08 AM PDT
i have read the story of sawtelle dogs and was facinated by the loyalty and intelligence of this breed. I have had many dogs which have influenced my life. I had an uncle who was in the 1930's a sheepherder working on the red desert of Wyoming. I spent a summer with him in his sheep wagon He and I had gone by wagon to obtain supplies from a small town. On the way out of town we were surreptitiously followed by an non desrcipt grey medium sized male dog. My uncle immediately recognized this dog to be a sheep dog but of the variety of a tramp and tried to discourage his company Nevertheless the dog followed us to the flock we were tending and over the next few weeks did spectacular work as a sheep dog but disdained to associate with the other two dogs that were tending the flock. One evening we were visited by the owner of the sheep and he had great admiration to this hobo. Next morning the dog was gone and I have been searching for a replacement ever since. Is there a breeder of Sawtelle dogs? How can I reach him.
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Total posts:  16
Initial post:  Aug 10, 2008
Latest post:  Oct 19, 2014

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Paperback - 2008)
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