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My dog Sawyer

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My dog Sawyer

Postby Inky6900 » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:14 am

I wanted to share this with the 14ers.com community. I sent this email last week to family and close friends.



Hey Everyone,

I thought I would let you guys know that Sawyer’s and my journey of climbing the 14ers is done. Most of you have followed the story of Soy and I over the last several years. Some of you climbed some of the 14ers with us. Soy is fine and I believe he will still live a good life for quite a while but his body is showing signs that age finally has caught up with him. Last summer he bruised his scapula on our week long trip in Chicago Basin. He has since recovered but it has only recently become noticeable that he’s not the same. This past weekend I took him on longer walks to test his body and it was clear afterwards that things are different. Even after seven months of rest he simply can’t recover the way he used to. Right now I would say it’s probably God’s way and Soy’s way of letting me know our journey is complete.

Most, if not all of you know how passionate I have been about climbing with Soy. It’s not easy for me to come to this realization especially because I have been praying daily for the last seven months that things would be different. I have hoped and dreamed for years that Soy and I would be able to finish the 14ers together. From the beginning I wanted to do this the right way which meant it had to be as humane as possible for Soy. We already were risking our lives (literally) on many of these climbs but Soy was mentally and physically able to perform under those conditions at those times. Mentally he is still capable but I don’t believe that taking him up there now would be humane, or right and definitely not safe. As it turns out we climbed 56 of the 61 summits to the highest rock. Of the remaining 5 summits, on 3 we were only a stones throw away - Mount Wilson we made to within 25 feet, Snowmass to within 50 feet and Little Bear we reached the South summit. The last two summits (Capitol and Sunlight) we never got a chance to attempt. Essentially, we climbed all but 2 of the 14ers.

Even now I believe Soy could have finished the 14ers. He is an amazing dog with incredible smarts and a keen sense for climbing. He was never foolish while on the mountain. Other dogs may have been more athletic and some maybe even better skilled. Soy's strength was his mind. He was and still is an extremely confident dog that knew his limits. While he never really feared heights, he respected them greatly. Lastly, he always trusted me up there. Time, not the mountain, is what is defeating us now.

This summer I will spend time finishing my book about the two of us climbing the 14ers. Even without completing them, I basically have what I need for the book. People have asked if I will continue on without Soy and finish the 14ers myself. Right now I would say no. I am not completely closing the door on this for the future but Soy has been my best friend and climbing partner for 8 years. We started climbing when he turned a year old. He will be 9 this June. Everything I learned about climbing the 14ers was with him. We started at the same skill level and we finish at the same level. My motivation for climbing was not to do this for myself but to do the climbs with him. I think stopping with him at this point makes me feel like we are still a team and like I am being as loyal to him as he has been to me all these years.

Climbing the 14ers with Soy were the best experiences of my life by far. Nothing else came close to making me feel so happy, accomplished and proud. Seeing Soy do these things, especially when most people believed it was impossible, made those feelings that much greater. I wish these experiences could have gone on for 30 years.

Here are a just a couple photos from two of our final three summits - North Eolus and Eolus. These were taken two days before our final climb together - Windom. There are others of us together but these are very meaningful to me. Even on Soy's last few summits he was incredible...not showing any signs of decay. That is how I will remember him as a climber. Thanks to Hugh Bryan for taking these photos at the time. They mean a great deal to me now.

Josh Aho
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With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby Presto » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:40 am

Josh, thank you so much for sharing what is obviously a very personal reflection with us. You're a good man. I don't know you, but can tell from your words that you are a caring, loving person. Thanks for giving so many good years to Soy. He's a very lucky dog and viceversa.

MY PET'S TEN COMMANDMENTS
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You, too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so. ALWAYS!
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby Buckeye-Annie » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:56 am

Josh--I met you and Sawyer last summer in Chicago Basin (I gave him some leftover food). We talked in camp for a while and you had concerns then that Soy just seemed to be having more difficulty handling the challenges of getting to the summit. Your compassion and love for him was heartwarming and I am fortunate to have met both of you. You've done the right thing and have so many wonderful times to be thankful for, and with more great memories yet to be made in the future. Give him a big hug from me! Good luck to both of you.
The measure of a person's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
http://www.AnnieUpHigh.com
Life as a Wild Child

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby JoeyJ » Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:30 pm

What a remarkable dog! Keep your chin up and good attitude of thankfulness going.

My dog was hit by a freight train 3 years ago, and she was never the same = that ended her days in the field completely. She had a slight limp and was awkward sometimes.... but she's still here today. She's now going completely blind and won't be with us much longer- really hard to see and deal with that - I can relate.

AFter the horrific train accident (that also took the life of my BF's best dog in the same accident) ... I really didn't want another dog after that and was pretty bummed. But be open for future hound partners and keep looking ahead! I wasn't expecting it- but the Good Lord moved this year and helped me get another brittany pup! And Salli has turned out to be THE BEST dog I've ever had!!

I know it's hard to think about now, just trying to encourage you that things will turn around after you go thru the difficulty of losing Soy.

Sal is the hound on my avatar- and she said to tell Sawyer hello! :)
"Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters."
John Wooden

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby jbchalk » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:58 pm

Josh,

Thanks for posting that heartfelt account of you and Sawyer's 14er quest together. Sawyer has had a fantastic ride on climbing all those 14ers and has lived his life to the fullest and more...he has accomplished much more than 99.9% of dogs and most people. I know it makes you proud of him. I too have a golden retriever...her name is Rainier. I would love to be able to climb them all with her one day but I certainly am not pushing it. We have climbed 39 of them together including the Wilsons. I will probably take her up Pyrmaid and the Bells in the next year or two but Capitol may be one I never do with her. She is a little over 6 yrs old and is definitely slowin down a bit from what she used to be able to do, but she has a couple good years of climbing yet. For one, i dont take her running anymore...I dont think she enjoys it...she likes hiking much better :)

Anyway, congrats on your accomplishment and maybe Rainier and Sawyer can meet one day.

Brandon

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby sunny1 » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:21 pm

Josh,
What an awesome post. You and Sawyer have been blessed by each other. What a gift! And so many memorable accomplishments!

I have 2 pugs that have meant alot to me in the 4 years I've had them, but especially after breaking my leg 2/09. They've been great company on my worst days & on my best days, and all that is between. My neighbor told me that god is dog spelled backwards, it's the closest we'll get this side of heaven to uncondtional love. Alot to learn from these fine furry friends of ours...
(along the lines of Presto's post above - loved the Pet's 10 commandments, BTW!)

If A Dog Was The Teacher (author unkn)
We'd learn things, like:
1. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
2. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
3. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
4. When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
5. Take naps. Stretch before rising.
6. Run, romp and play daily.
7. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
8. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
9. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
10. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout! Run right back and make friends.
11. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
12. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you've had enough.
13. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
14. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
15. Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
16. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
17. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
18. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Wishing you & Sawyer many more good times!
Nancy
Last edited by sunny1 on Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The older you get, the better you get, unless you're a banana.

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby peakmind » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:14 pm

Presto wrote:Josh, thank you so much for sharing what is obviously a very personal reflection with us. You're a good man. I don't know you, but can tell from your words that you are a caring, loving person. Thanks for giving so many good years to Soy. He's a very lucky dog and viceversa.

MY PET'S TEN COMMANDMENTS
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You, too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so. ALWAYS!


I like this list. It make me stop and think.

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby Inky6900 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:27 am

Thank you all for the very kind comments. They mean a great deal to me.
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby thetoddman » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:35 am

Josh,

I wanted to thank you for sharing your very personal story about Sawyer's and your accomplishments =D> . What a truly remarkable dog! He is lucky to have such a dedicated and thoughtful caretaker and you to have such a dedicated and trusting companion.

Your situation is one that I have also been struggling with the past several months. I retired my best friend, Morgan, recently from climbing. Like Sawyer, he is a Golden Retreiver and at the age of 12 1/2 years climbed Mt. Elbert as his finale in September. While his 14er resume isn't nearly as extensive as Sawyer's, I am nevertheless just as proud. Like you, I will miss the great times I shared climbing with him.

I'm going to give accupuncture a try for my buddy. I hoping that it will allow Morgan and I to continue to take lesser challenging hikes together for some time. I will keep you posted on our results - perhaps it might be something that would allow you and Sawyer more quality time together.

Best of luck to you and Sawyer and thanks again for the post.

Nick

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby AdgePeakster » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:30 pm

I have truly loved reading about Sawyer over the past 2 years and was brought to tears by your amazing post. Thank you for letting us share in your adventures with Sawyer. I have a 2 1/2 year old male Golden Retriever named Tippet and I'm hoping this summer to start taking him on 14ers for the first time. Your stories about Sawyer have inspired me to take him on the trail with me. When we go, I will be thinking of you and Sawyer and I hope to build memories like you have. Thank you for your vulnerability and for your love for Sawyer.
"While God's glory is written all over His work, in wilderness the letters are capitalized." ~John Muir

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby ColoradoKrazy1 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:38 pm

Awesome post, I haven't read a heart felt post like that in a while. Thanks, and the best to you and Sawyer.

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Re: My dog Sawyer

Postby MattK » Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:17 am

First off, congrats to you and Sawyer for what you have accomplished, I am sorry that it will not be able to finish, but as others have said, you and him have accomplished some incredible feats and, while they may not be 14ers, he is still young enough for you guys to have other adventures. Second, dang, you have a way with words and summed up perfectly what it is like to have a dog as your hiking companion. A book huh? I would be interested in reading that when you are done, you'll have to let us know.

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