Fishing with Hemingway

Prologue Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West from 1928 until 1937 when he left to cover the Spanish Civil War.  The Key West years were among Hemingway's most productive—he completed four novels and some of his best-known short stories. Hemingway was a friend to the Key West wealthy as well...

Jim Elliott Post

Searching For The Sawtelle Dog

The NoName Book Club of Big Canoe, GA likes to think of itself as intelligent, controversial, highly opinionated, stubborn, feisty, and venerable.  We especially enjoy being known as venerable as it signifies great age and impressive dignity.  If you were to attend one of our meetings you would readily agree that we have great age but would probably question our impressive dignity.  Most of us are conservative thinkers, but recognizing the need to be politically correct, we recruited some liberals.  Not an easy task in Big Canoe.

Our meetings are interesting and well attended as we read a wide diversity of books and end up discussing many other subjects.  Consuming an ample amount of wine at meetings always results in a wide and animated list of different topics.  We do make a weak effort to stay away from politics.  Popular subjects are movies, fishing, good cheap wines, corn-bread recipes, competent prostate surgeons, and occasionally we spend some time talking about the selected book.

The NoName Club recently met to discuss David Wroblewski’s, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.  The book is a good read and I enjoyed it a great deal, even though the story line is not too believable and it gets bogged down with unnecessary detail and descriptions. The author’s portrayal of the interaction between human and dog, however, is enjoyable and accurate.

I know two insatiable readers who are both dog lovers, my wife, Pam, and her hairdresser, Bob McPhail, who were not able to finish the book.  They thought it too repetitive and much too long.

Briefly, the story is about a mute youngster, Edgar Sawtelle, and his early life on a dog-breeding farm in rural Wisconsin where Edgar’s Grandfather and later his Father develop a pedigree of dog they called the Sawtelle.  Size, color, and hunting skills were not as important to the breeders as bearing, personality, loyalty, and companionship.  If the Grandfather or Father found a dog with those characteristics, regardless of its appearance, they would introduce the dog to the Sawtelle breeding stock.  They wanted a dog with the ability to think and communicate.

After finishing the book, I thought a great deal about the dogs and decided that Wroblewski had to have used an existing dog as a model for his Sawtelle and I was determined to find the prototype.   I searched the Internet for weeks.  I Googled size, color, bravery, intelligence, etc., until I finally found a dog that I felt fulfilled all the qualities of the Sawtelle.

What I determined to be the model for the Sawtelle was a 12-lb. black female that probably is a cross between a long hair Dachshund and a Yorkshire Terrier.  Using the Internet, the owners of this unique dog found her in a Paulding County Animal Shelter after she had been rescued from a Puppy Mill.  She was adopted by the couple and named Poppy.  I secured a picture of the dog and took it with me to our meeting when we discussed Wroblewski’s book.

At our meeting, I explained to the NoName members the methodology used in my search.  They were excited and hanging on every word.  All agreed that an existing dog had to be the prototype. Some thought it would be a German Shepherd.  Others an Akita.  Our sagacious membership had no clue as to what my search would reveal.

I showed a picture of what I thought to be the Sawtelle Dog to the members and the ever-observant Erv Dykstra exclaimed, “That’s your dog.”  I immediately answered, “Of course it’s my dog.  Do you think I would bring a picture of someone else’s dog?”  Erv said, ”But she bites your Grandchildren.”  I was forced to respond, “Not any more, they’re all old enough now to protect themselves.”

When she heard about her new found celebrity, Poppy insisted on setting up her own PayPal account so she could sell Paw autographed pictures on the Internet.  They are available at a minimal charge.  Contact her for your copy:


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2 Responses to Searching For The Sawtelle Dog

  1. Pingback: Big Canoe Writers » Blog Archive » Searching for the Sawtelle Dog

  2. Fred Shaw says:

    Great site, Jim. Your description of me as “some liberals” is accurate and complimentary. Enjoyed your “Sawtelle Dog” story. Fred Shaw

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