Meet our “fur-children” & the best traveling companions we could have imagined!
This is Sawyer,
Our 65-pound “toddler,” Sawyer is two years old & has come a long way since we first adopted him in Juneau, Alaska. He was rescued from “Prince of Wales,” a village south of Juneau. All we were told when we rescued him at 5 months old was that he was taken from a “really, really bad situation.”
We’re guessing that bad situation had something to do with birds and/or feathers because it took us about a year to get him over his intense fear of feathers. It used to be so bad that if we saw a feather on the sidewalk we had to cross the street to avoid coming in close proximity of the feather or he would lock all four of his legs and very intensely bark & growl at it and then hide behind me out of fear.
We often refer to Sawyer as having “social-emotional issues.” After he was rescued he was in 3 different foster homes before he ended up with us. It took us close to two months to potty train him and I couldn’t even tell you how long to get him used to a leash. He’s incredibly smart…but leary of strange men, anything shiny, umbrellas, trekking poles, large backpacks and people wearing hoods (just to name a few). When he gets really nervous, we put his Thundershirt on him (shown in the photo), and it actually seems to help:
Sawyer’s favorite words are “breakfast,” “dinner,” “Dad” (his most favorite person), and all the names of his best doggy friends. He loves kids, cats, squeeky toys, small dogs, and any dog that will run and play with him.
Shortly after getting Sawyer we learned part of his “social-emotional issues” was separation anxiety. We pieced this together after he chewed through our wall several times after only being left alone for a short stint. We remedied that this past October (2014) and got him a brother.
Doug was rescued from Kake, Alaska, which is also a village south of Juneau. It is guessed that Doug was abandoned in Kake via someone kicking him off the ferry. Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for people to do as Kake is an area the ferry often passes through.
In Kake stray dogs have six days to be claimed or they are euthanized due to lack of veterinary services, an animal shelter, or additional resources to take care of the high amount of strays. Thankfully the village police officer recognized something special in Doug and called the rescue group in Juneau, SOFA, to see if anyone could take him. We were working with SOFA to get Sawyer a brother, so they called us. Of course we couldn’t say no.
Doug was flown to us via Alaska Seaplanes and weighed just over 100 pounds. When I eagerly picked him up from the airport he was laying in his kennel, so incredibly depressed and worn down, he didn’t even seem to care I was excitedly talking to him.
From the airport I took him to the nearest dog park to let him out. He was big. And moved slow. Despite SOFA telling us he was a young guy, I was convinced he was much older.
It took Doug about 24 hours, food, lots of water, and a good grooming later to start to perk up. He had the most calm demeanor and seemed so happy to be with us. After the first day we didn’t think he was the right dog for us, but we had to start calling him something so we named him “Doug,” as he reminded us of the dog’s personality in the Pixar movie, Up.
We took Doug to the vet and learned he was between 2.5-3 years old and was healthy, but a bit overweight. Being in Juneau we were spoiled with a vast amount of trails and a beautiful dog beach. When in Juneau, we spent hours outside exploring:
We went on daily walks, hikes and runs determined to get Doug to his ideal weight of 85-pounds.
It took a few months, but we did it! And Doug was so much happier. He went from slowly running down the dog beach to bounding over big logs, racing through the woods and was able to keep up with Sawyer the other pups at the dog beach.
Now, Doug keeps us in shape as he demands daily runs, long walks, or adventures in the woods.
Doug is a big softy who quickly won us over…and continues to win the hearts of everyone, everywhere we travel. Our boys are getting so skilled at posing for us and for tourists…
Traveling With Dogs
People often ask us, “How are the dogs doing?” or “What’s it like traveling with dogs?” Both boys travel better than we ever could have imagined. Sawyer loves being with us, everywhere we go and in many ways is more behaved now than he was when we lived in Juneau.
Doug also does great – but I think often misses the freedoms he had in Juneau. He is on a leash much more now, which is sometimes a challenge for him, and us.
We’ve learned as long as the dogs get their exercise they are completely content to lay in the truck or the tiny house.
The biggest challenge has been making sure we are going places where dogs are allowed. For example, after spending time in Denali National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we’ve learned national parks are full of dog restrictions. Basically, dogs aren’t allowed much past the visitor center’s cemented “trails.”
We’ve heavily relied on BringFido as well as any other dog-related source Google gives us when navigating a new area with a dog.
There is no doubt traveling with dogs makes things more challenging, but both of us agree we wouldn’t be as happy if we didn’t have them.