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News: Guest Posts
A New Job for Pearl
Second graders illustrate book about Haiti SAR dog

Allyn Lee has volunteered for 16 years, teaching second graders about animals and the environment. In January, she was teaching Connie Forslind’s second grade class at Rancho Romero School in Alamo, Calif., about wolves—a subject, she says, always segues to dogs—when Haiti was hit by the devastating earthquake. Lee followed the coverage, in particular stories about the canine search teams, including California Task-Force 2 (CA-TF2), trained by the Search Dog Foundation. CA-TF2 saved 11 lives in Haiti and learned a great deal about saving more lives in future disasters. Lee decided she wanted to write the true story of a Pearl and her handler, Fire Captain Ron Horetski.

  When she told her students they became enthusiastic supporters and illustrators. They studied photos of Horetski and Pearl and watched Search Dog Foundation videos. Every student provided at least one image for A New Job for Pearl: A Homeless Dog Becomes A Hero, and they participate in book sales events nearby. “They are fully involved and determined to sponsor a search dog!” Lee says.    Lee and her students hope to sell 1,000 copies at $10 each to raise the $10,000 needed to sponsor the training of a search dog. To support the kids, SDF and/or to learn Pearl’s wonderful story, visit ANewJobforPearl.org.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Criminal Mistake
Running into K9 training

I love stupid criminal stories. My favorite is about a guy who robbed a liquor store. When the clerk asked for ID because he looked young and was taking beer, the thief presented his driver’s license. This made it easier for the police to apprehend him, in case you were wondering. Similarly, I like the one about the man holding up a bank who wrote his demands on the back of his personal deposit slip, which allowed police to go to his house to arrest him. Of course, he might not feel as stupid as the crook who pulled a trash bag over his face at the start of a robbery only to realize he’d forgotten to cut eye holes in it.

  Recently, two guys in the state of Washington fled their vehicle on foot after a high-speed chase by police. Whoops. The suspects ran right into a monthly training exercise of 15 police officers and their canine partners. Some of these dogs were trained drug-sniffers, and they indicated that there was the possibility of narcotics in the bags the men carried. After a search warrant was obtained, police found $1.2 million dollars worth of cocaine.   Police Dogs 1: Criminals 0  

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Resident Canines
N.J. stadium gets two full time bomb-sniffing dogs

Last month two canine residents moved into New Meadowlands Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and Jets football teams. Rufus and Anja, both Labrador Retrievers, are believed to be the only bomb-sniffing dogs in the country that are full time residents of a sports stadium.

The canine duo was brought in after team officials determined that the pups’ $10,000 price tag was more cost effective than buying an X-ray machine or renting inspection dogs. Rufus and Anja’s job is to sniff every delivery from new turf to hot dogs to make sure that they are safe.

The dogs live in two different kennels that are furnished with a bed and a water bowl. No toys are allowed since they “will chew them to pieces,” but they are sometimes given rawhide.

I always love reading about dogs and people working together, and I was glad to hear that the dogs are trained with positive reinforcement, but Rufus and Anja seem to lead a lonely life. Unlike police dogs, who typically go home with their handlers, the Meadowlands pups have to stay behind at the stadium. It almost seems like the dogs are being taken advantage of. They work all day and have only a lonely kennel to return to at night.

What do you think about these working dogs?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Take Your Dog To Work Day
Live the dream on June 25, 2010

A very rare percentage of people feel that their job is so fantastic that there is little that could be done to make it better. For most of the rest of the world, one simple perk could make their work so much more enjoyable—if they could just bring their dog with them. Being allowed to bring dogs to work has so many advantages both for employees and for the businesses that allow it.

  Julia Kamysz Lane profiled four of the companies that welcome dogs. There are many other companies that allow their employees to bring their dogs to work every day.   Among the benefits of allowing dogs at the office are increased face-to-face interactions between co-workers. It is a real morale booster to have dogs around, and any employer smart enough to want the people who work at the company to be happy deserves the resulting increases in productivity, esprit de corps, loyalty, and general sense of well being. Then, there’s the fact that employees are not in a rush to get out the door to let their dogs out.   Of course, whether you do it every day or just once a year, there is certain “petiquette” and advice worth following to ensure a positive experience for all.   Since 1999, Bring Your Dog To Work Day has been a wonderful event for anyone who must leave a dog behind to go to work on all the other days of the year. This year, the event is Friday, June 25, 2010. The original purpose of this day is to celebrate what great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from shelters, rescue groups and humane societies.   Are you allowed to bring your dog to work, and if so, how much does that add to your job satisfaction? Do you plan to bring your dog to work on June 25?

 

News: Guest Posts
Super Buddy
German Shepherd saves the day--and a house

Buddy is a hero! Check out the amazing German Shepherd, who led a trooper to a burning building in Alaska--complete with footage shot from inside the cruiser. I love how the officer, who says he has spent a lot of time around dogs, tells a news anchor that he trusted Buddy was leading him (and not just running away)--and that's for sure how it looks. On Friday, Buddy was awarded a special honorary dog bowl.

News: Guest Posts
Recent Reports on Military Dogs
A lot like soldiers—feats of heroism, multiple tours, combat stress

Several news reports this month shed light on the reality of life for U.S. military dogs. What’s clear is that canines have carved out a critical and expanding role many years into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. They sniff out weapons caches, IEDs, insurgents—and, more controversially, they have been used to frighten and intimidate detainees. They also serve as a comfort to some of the soldiers with whom they work.

 

But they also suffer. According to The Washington Post, 11 dogs have been killed in combat. Others have been wounded and still others seem to be suffering combat stress.   Walter Burghardt, chief of behavioral medicine at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, has been studying the effects of combat on dogs for two years. He told The Post he doesn’t like to use the term post-traumatic stress disorder with dogs. But, he concedes, “war can affect them emotionally,” claiming antidepressants, more play time and working the job they’ve been trained to do can help.   The servicemen quoted in a Wall Street Journal story by Michael M. Phillips aren’t hesitant to use the term PTSD, especially when they talk about Gunner, a bomb-sniffing Labrador Retriever at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. Gunner cowers or bolts at a sharp crack, boom, or even the click of a camera shutter; he has been deemed “combat-ineffective.” Another bomb dog, refused to work with Marines for a time after seeing a serviceman shoot a feral Afghan dog. Still others struggle with what appear to be violent nightmares.   And how do we reward them? There’s an effort to create a medal for dogs and a memorial, which won’t make any difference to them. Instead, these service dogs need to be guaranteed treatment for stress for as long as they need it and a good home after they complete their service. (The Humane Society has given the Pentagon good marks for its efforts to provide for retired dogs.) They also need to be protected from exploitation during training and while in a war zone. I was appalled to read in the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago paper, three explosives-detection trainees died and dozens more were rescued in poor health due to the neglect of a private security contractor working for a Navy supplier. That’s obviously unacceptable.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Olympic Dogs
Working pups on the sidelines help make the games safe

I’m still hoping that agility will one day join the equestrian events at the Olympics. But, as it turns out, there are many dogs currently in Vancouver, playing an even more important role at the games.   

A group of American and Canadian canines and handlers are in Vancouver, ready to assist in rescue efforts should there be an avalanche during the competition. 

Being an avalanche rescue team is no easy task, and comes with unique challenges, such as riding in a chair lift and rappelling out of a helicopter. The stringent standards put forth by the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) includes a test that requires dogs to find clothing buried overnight under over two feet of snow.

According to CARDA, a search dog’s sensitive nose and stamina makes it possible to cover one hectare of snow in 30 minutes. The same task would take a human team almost four hours.

For a person buried under the snow, the difference of mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death. It’s amazing, despite all of the technology humans have, that there are just some things that canines can do better.

Avalanche dogs aren’t the only working canines present in Vancouver. Explosive detection and police dogs are also there, helping to create a safe environment for both spectators and athletes. 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Suspect Tells Police Dog To Sit
Man ends up in jail

When a Gainesville man was pulled over for playing his car stereo excessively loud, his reaction was to act out, yell profanities, and generally disrespect the police officers. When officers brought a drug-sniffing police dog to the scene, the man continued to behave badly. Specifically, he gave commands such as “sit” to the police dog, which is considered interfering with a working police animal and is against the law.

  The dog was temporarily distracted from his duties, but resumed his search and found evidence of marijuana in the car. In addition to being in trouble for his behavior towards the police dog, the suspect was charged with disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia, and refusal to sign the citations related to violating city noise and window tint ordinances.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Providing for War Dogs
Deployed military pups face a shortage of rations.

Military canines in the United States date back to the First World War  Now America has the largest fleet of working dogs in the world with over 2,800 military pups. Over 600 of those dogs are currently deployed in the Middle East, where their handlers face a tough predicament when it comes to the animals’ care. 

The recent increase in troops sent to Afghanistan has led to a surge in military dogs, which has also caused a shortage in quality dog food. These high performing canines are in the field everyday, searching for explosives and accompanying patrolling soldiers. They require a special diet made in the United States that’s high in protein and other nutrients. 

The food is shipped from the U.S. to Pakistan and trucked to the troops in Afghanistan. However, space on the vehicles is limited and the priority is placed on transporting human food and supplies. The unexpected increase in both troops -- human and canine -- has put a strain on the system.

I understand that this is a hard situation all around. I can’t imagine how hard it is to deliver sufficient quality supplies. But it’s ultimately the government’s responsibility to only send troops overseas if their basic needs can be met -- human and canine.

While researching what pet lovers could do to help the K-9 teams, I discovered Girl Scout Troop 60667’s Care Packages for K9s project.  Last November, this group from Macon, Georgia wanted to show their support for military dogs and their handlers. 

The Girl Scouts started Care Packages for K9s to assemble both canine and human supplies such as training aids, grooming tools, medical supplies, and protective gear for the dogs, as well as cards created by the Girl Scouts. As of this month, they’ve collected over $3,000 in donations and have shipped over 360 pounds of supplies and equipment to 32 military working dog teams stationed all over the world.  

While Care Packages for K9s doesn’t send food, the treats and supplies are sure to bring cheer to the handlers and their trusty dogs in Afghanistan.

News: Guest Posts
SAR Dogs in Haiti: Update
Border Collie finds three girls buried alive in rubble
[Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, JoAnna Lou blogged about the amazing work of search-and-rescue dogs and handlers in Haiti. Today, Lisa Wade McCormick followed up with a story about how one dog rescued a few young earthquake victims in a story she wrote for ConsumerAffairs.com—a portion of which is reprinted here.]   Amid the sorrow and despair in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly earthquake in Haiti comes news of survival: One of the United States’ top canine disaster search-and-rescue teams on Friday found three girls trapped alive in the rubble of a four-story building.   A Border Collie named Hunter—specially-trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to locate people buried alive—discovered the young survivors under four feet of concrete and debris. The girls had been trapped nearly 70 hours—since the powerful earthquake devastated the tiny island country.   Hunter and his handler, Los Angles firefighter Bill Monahan, located the girls while searching a large bowl-shaped area near Haiti’s crumpled Presidential Palace. “After crisscrossing the area, Hunter pinpointed the survivors’ scent under four feet of broken concrete and did his ‘bark alert’ to let Bill know where the victims were,” the SDF said in statement. “Bill spoke with the survivors, then passed them bottles of water tied to the end of a stick. As they reached for the water one of the girls said, ‘thank you.’”   Monahan and Hunter are one of six SDF teams deployed with the California Task Force 2 to find victims buried in earthquake’s rubble.   The 72 members of the task force, who have 70,000 pounds of heavy machinery and other rescue equipment, are searching around the clock to find survivors of the cataclysmic earthquake that many fear will claim tens of thousands of lives.   “The teams are working in 12-hour shifts so they have time to rest and recuperate,” said Captain Jayd Swendseid of the California Task Force. “The team is putting in long and exhausting days. Roads are closed and there is a lot of debris that is making transportation difficult, but the team is managing to get to buildings and make rescues. Morale is good and supplies are sufficient so far.”   Valuable Tools The six “live-scent” dogs on the teams are arguably the most valuable tools rescue workers have in a disaster of this magnitude. These elite canines can climb and run across the piles of concrete and other debris in the streets of Port-Au-Prince and determine within three minutes if there are survivors buried below, the SDF said.   Besides Monahan and Hunter, the other SDF canine teams working in Haiti with the California Task Force 2 are: 
 • L.A. County Firefighter Gary Durian and his Golden Retriever, Baxter; 

 • L.A. County Firefighter Ron Horetski and his Lab, Pearl; 
 • L.A. County Firefighter Jasmine Segura and her Lab, Cadillac; 
 • L.A. Country Firefighter Jason Vasquez and his German Shepherd, Maverick; 

 • California civilian Ron Weckbacher and his border collie, Dawson.   Weckbacher is the training group’s leader. He and Dawson have participated in other search-and-rescue operations, including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina.   Another SDF canine disaster search and rescue team is also on the ground in Haiti. Julie Padelford-Jansen with Miami’s Fire and Rescue Department--and her dog, Dakota--are working with Florida Task Force 1 in the rescue efforts. The SDF also has other canine teams on standby--ready to deploy to Haiti when needed.   “This moment is what SDF Search Teams train for--week in and week out--throughout their careers together,” said SDF founder, Wilma Melville. “When one SDF team succeeds, all of our teams succeed.   “Our thoughts are with our teams in Haiti, who continue to comb the rubble into the night,” she added. “Their perseverance, skill, and strength in the face of extreme challenges make us all proud, and give us hope.”  

The SDF, headquartered in Ojai, California, is the only organization in the country that works exclusively with rescued dogs and trains them to rescue people buried alive. Most of SDF’s 69 canine search teams are certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That is the highest achievement for search and rescue teams and means they can respond to any disaster.

Read Lisa Wade McCormick's complete story. 

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