Sunday, April 3, 2011

So I am starting right off with this picture of my friends Garrison, Murphy and the Video of the week. I had such a great week and we got so many fun pictures that if I put them on the blog in any other way than in this 4 minute video, well it would just be the biggest blog ever. So sit back and relax and enjoy the fun. There are pictures of Me of course, and my friends that come and stay with me here at Canine Country Club and pictures of all my friends that come and train with me on Saturdays including my new BIG friend Bruce and finally pictures of my human friends (pint size humans) that I met Saturday when Vickie and I went and did a book signing of the book I helped her write. Well mostly Jamie helped her but I am in it. So enjoy the video and if you don't like John Denver music, you can turn the sound off. I wish I could turn the sound off in the house cause that is all Vickie listens to. I think she had a crush on the guy.....

Before I start talking about my week and all the fun things I did, I just wanted you to meet my two little tiny friends who need a home. You can email Vickie for more information. And just so you know, Frostie found a home this week....Yeah

WE don't know this little guys name but the vet says he is about 4 months old. She gave him all his shots and says he is really nice. Someone dumped him up on the mountains. Some People.

Skeeter is here at our place and he is a 1 year old chihaua mix. He is neutered, gets along with everyone and everything and we would appreciate it if you all would help us spread the word. I had to start off with this picture because, well, it is so dogone cute of me and this little guy. Come on, ya gotta agree.
So at the beginning of this week we had some huge amount of water coming from the sky, both in the form of snow and rain. It just kept coming. And well since Vickie and I spent last Saturday filling in all the pot holes out front with dirt, instead of being better it just made it worse. Oh my, it was so worse. We even had people who dropped off my friends who come and play have to put their vehicles in four wheel drive to get out. So we had no choice, we had to have the professionals come and fix our mess. And, as Vickie says, it weren't cheap. Boy just when she saves enough money so we can take a road trip or something, we have to spend it for something else. Its ok though, cause we have a great life, even if we don't get to go anywhere for more than a few hours. (Poor us)
Looks pretty darn good, doesn't it. And now we never have to worry about loosing folks in the mud pit in front of our little business. I mean, yes I am a search and rescue dog but come on...... if you dissapear into the deep dark depths of the earth below, just what do you expect me to do?
Spring time is here and people are already getting lost. This week we had two missing kids. One callout came at 2 o'clock in the morning but before I had to even get into the van to go, they found him, alive and well. The second one was a little more thought ful of Vickie and her need for LOTS of beauty sleep and we didn't have to leave until in the middle of the day. Lucky again, this boy was found too. We really like the ones that end so happy. On Saturday at the dog training at the park, I found myself in trouble immediatly. I had barely gotten out of the car and boom, I am in a TIME OUT. and I don't care what you say. IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. It was Vickies fault and I had to pay the price. What is fare about that? I did get to come out and work with the others about half an hour later. (That is an awful long time to be in Time Out if you ask me) and I got to meet our newest member of the training group. Bruce.....yep, thats his name. Bruce and he is BIG and fun and I hate to admit it but he can out-run me. He can out-run me GOOD.

Did you know that Vickie, Jamie and I (well at least my handsome picture) wrote a book and a big publishing company in New York published it. Yep, we are published. So on Saturday afternoon we had our first official Book Signing. Well sitting with Vickie while she signs books was quite boring, although my presence is very important, because you see kids like to meet the main characters of the book and thats me and Murhpy and some of the other search dogs, just the same it got pretty boaring so I found me some kids and convinced them to take me and Murphy for walks. They took good care of us and there was plenty of them to go around and so it made the three hours go by a lot faster. You may have mets some of them in the video of the week above. You know, that big guy in the sky sure knew what he was doing when he invented kids. I thought this picture of Bernie asleep under the couch was so cute so I asked Vickie to put it in for you to see to. And Finally I wanted to start paying respect to my mentor Jamie. I asked Vickie to write down some of Jamies adventures for you and we are gonna put them at the end of a blog now and again. That way if you are tired of reading you can stop and maybe come back later. This is a story of how very cool of a search dog Jamie was, is and will always be. The years have darkened her vision, taken her hearing, but her heart is still full of the desire to serve and her nose is still pretty darn good. Not as good as it once was, but pretty darn good. Hopefully if Vickie gets down to it, in the future she will share some of the stories of Jamies great adventures as a search dog and tell about all the people she has found or helped to find. Until then, I hope you enjoy this article Vickie wrote about a little incident where people questioned the abilities of us search dogs and how Jamie proved how cool we can be. See you next week


Adventures of a Search Dog

Jamie came into my life quite by accident. I was not looking for another dog, not then. I had resigned myself to never working another search and rescue dog again. It meant endless hours, even days of drudging through remote wilderness area’s during the bitterest days and nights of blinding snow storms or desert heat. It was hard work and I was tired and hurt and rarely did anyone say thank you for our efforts. I had just lost my partner of five years to a speeding car and I couldn’t bring myself to trust my heart to another canine ally. I didn’t want anything to do with it. Yet, in she came. This little mixed breed mutt. Her border collie face and healer body gave her a comical appearance, but her eyes, oh those eyes. They spoke to me the first time I saw them. “Trust me Vickie,” her eyes whispered, “Take me home and I’ll change your life.”

Without any encouragement needed, she would patiently observe as I trained other dogs for search and rescue work. Always on the sidelines she would sit and watch. Then one day as we prepared to begin a particularly difficult tracking problem for one of the certified dog teams, Jamie exploded into the area from behind me, dashed past the other dog and began tracking our victim. I was so amazed and surprised that I just stood there. Seconds later when it was clear what she was doing, I started after her on a dead run. Still not believing what I was seeing I followed her as she nosed her way along the trail almost foot print for foot print. She was a search dog and there was nothing I could do about it, nothing but let her do her thing, and now, almost fourteen years later, I still get a catch in my throat when I realize I could have denied her, myself and all of the lost and missing people she has found, the unique opportunity of being with her.

Jamie made a name for herself in the search world quickly. She was so intense when she was working and people loved watching her, so it was no surprise to me when I was asked to let her appear in a commercial for a dog food company. Of course there was no money in it, but just knowing that your dog was going to be seen by thousands of people, well it was something to be proud of.

The day they were shooting the commercial came and Jamie was ready. She had been given a bath and her sleek black coat shimmered in the bright sunlight as she chased down the frizbee that speedily caught air and darted across the park. Each time they asked her to do a special feat for them to film she would quickly and energetically do it. By the time we broke for lunch, they were calling her “One Shot Jamie”.

The crew couldn’t believe how well trained she was and how she was able to do anything they asked. I just stood around proudly nodding. “Yes, she is good. Isn’t she” I would say. Inside I was laughing because they thought I had something to do with it, when in fact, Jamie just came to me that way. During the lunch break one of the camera men, Tim, had headed back to the vehicles to get some equipment when he passed a very frustrated young man who was down on hands and knees desperately pushing his hands deep into the warmth of the freshly mown lawn . Sweat running down his face, the man was mumbling and cursing his bad luck. Concerned, Tim asked him if he needed any help.

Looking up with a tired expression the young man moaned, “I am looking for the key to my car” he said. “When I go jogging I take the car key off the ring and put it in my shorts. That way I don’t have to carry all the keys while I run.” Reaching back into the grass and moving forward a few inches he complained ”I must have lost it in the grass while I ran. Somewhere in this cussed park is the key to my car.” Smiling the camera man said, “Hey why don’t you go and get that women over there.” Pointing towards me, “Her dog is a search and rescue dog, I’ll bet they can find your key.” The weary jogger scornfully said, “I don’t’ believe that dogs can do that, it is just a big pack of lies.” And then he went back to his hunting.

A few minutes later as Tim was telling me about the jogger and what he had said, I found myself more than a little upset. In 20 years of working with search dogs I had met up with more than my share of disbelievers and today I just wasn’t in the mood to “Prove” myself to anyone so trying not to sound as mad as I was feeling, I told Tim, “Fine, let him look for it on his own, I don’t have to substantiate anything to this total stranger.” With a final disdainful glance at the poor jogger, Jamie and I headed back to the filming area and promptly forgot all about him. The filming went on for another two hours and although Jamie’s part was done, we stayed around to watch as they worked with the actor who played me in the commercial. It was searingly hot that day with temperatures reaching 100 degrees.

The sun was merciless as it pounded its rays down on the park and all its sun seeking humans. Jamie and I watched from the shade of a large Sycamore tree by the river. It was a pleasant afternoon for us. Soon it was time to head back to the studio to finish up on the commercial so I started for my truck with Jamie close at my side. I was going to take her back home to rest while I went in and worked on the final touches with the crew. Putting the truck in gear and blasting the air-conditioner, I backed out of my parking area and began to head out of the park. As we were moving westward across the pavement I chanced to look between the parked cars and noticed the wretched looking jogger still crawling slowly through the grass.

He looked so pitiful I was forced to stop. Rolling down my window, a blast of stifling hot air shot through the opening. It caught in my throat causing me to cough weakly while trying to push the dry air out again. Taking a deep breath of the suffocating air, I hollered out, “are you they guy that lost his key?” His head turned in my direction and he slowly lifted his eyes. The sweat must have poured into his eyes because he reached up and drew his wrist along the line of his brown and over his eyes. “Yeh” was all he said. “Would you like me to let the dog try and find it for you now?” I countered. “What the _____” he dryly answered. “Why Not, I’ve been looking for hours. I guess it couldn’t hurt.”

Without stopping the motor, I put the car in neutral and pulled on the brake. Opening the door I stepped out and turned to Jamie who was looking at me with a curious almost concerned look on her face. Those eyes were steadily focused on my eyes and she waited. Now I have to add here that we have never done anything like this before. I was a little concerned that she might not know what it was I wanted from her and to make things worse, we were starting to draw a crowd. The camera crew, the actors and a few others were all closing in to watch what would happen next. Expectations were high. I was beginning to feel very uneasy. More than a little nervous I stood back from the door and said to Jamie, “Jamie, find me the key.”

That’s all I said. “find me the key” and she was off. The whole thing took about 20 seconds as she ran past the man to the far end of the parking area. Totaling about 200 feet in length and 60 feet in width, Jamie had decided her search area. Like a rocket, she shot through the grass, head inches from the surface, to the place where the main road met with the park. Turning back she ran the distance of her search area passing us all without a look. Then she came forward about 15 feet of the width of the parkway and proceeded to head back length of the strip. Reaching our end of the park she again came towards the group another 15 feet and headed back towards the main road. This is called “gridding the search area” and she does it automatically when she has an unknown to deal with.

I stood by the car and watched with the rest of the crowd. Halfway back the length of the area on her third run we all watched as she slammed her front feet into the ground almost causing her to roll. Gaining her balance she turned sharply towards the waiting crowd and headed straight for us. Nose to the ground, eyes downward she barreled forward stopping just short of the curb and two excited children. That’s it, she just stopped. Her nose was deep in the grass and her body went stiff as a board. She was done. Now it was my turn so I calmly walked through the silent crowd. Passing the jogger I confidently smiled at him. Inside I was hoping beyond hope that Jamie had found the key. But as I came closer to her, I wondered what would make me think she had found the key. How could she have known she was looking for a key. We had never looked for keys before.

We had never trained for anything like this. Sure, I would give her a persons sock to smell and then have her find the matching sock that I had hidden in the yard. But I hadn’t given her the joggers sock to smell. How could she possibly know what I wanted her to look for. As these thoughts passed through my head, my steps became more laborious and the air became thicker. This was going to be so embarrassing. All these people would think the same thing the jogger thinks. “I don’t’ believe that dogs can do that, it is just a big pack of lies.” The joggers words came flooding back to me as I reached Jamie’s side. She remaind in the same position, nose to the ground, still as a rock, barely breathing. “Oh well” I thought to myself, “Nothing to do now but face the music” I bent down over Jamie and followed the gentle pattern of her face and nose with my fingers into the grass.

AS my fingers reached the end of her nose, about two inches into the tall grass I was greeted by cold steel. My thumb and for finger grasped the small item and recognition of what it was flooded my mind. She had found it. She had found a key. A tiny key deep in the grass in the middle of a crowded park on a hot summer day. Even though the wonder of it was creating butterflies that were dancing in my head, I had to act as though this were “No Big Deal” to those who were watching so I folded the little metal key into my hands, stood up and calmly walked over to the waiting crowd. Passing through the smaller children at the front of the group I came face to face with the jogger. The disbeliever, the skeptic, my own doubting Thomas…. Reaching out with my hand I gently placed the key in his open palm and said, “There you go” As if this were an everyday event I said, “There you go.” Turned gently on my heals and walked purposely back to my waiting truck. Motioning Jamie to jump and then getting in myself, I put the truck in gear and Jamie and I quietly and proudly drove off into the sunset. Nothing more needed to be said.

Later that night as I met with Tim and the other members of the crew the told me that, as we drove off, the bewildered jogger clutched the key, began to cry and loudly proclaimed. “I believe, I believe” Chalk one up for all the dogs of this world….They rule.


Julie said...

We love the stories of your rescue adventures. Please keep them coming. Save us a copy of your new book!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this story about Jamie. What a fabulous litte dog. Jill

Amber-Mae said...

WOW that was an amazing story about Jamie. Made me tear up & smile at the same time. She truly is an amazing dog! And what a nose she has!! I wish my nose was as good as hers.

And Bert, you lead such an exciting life! So happy to know that the two kids were rescued. BTW, I'm not sure if I've told you this before or not but you are one very handsome Golden Retriever!

keli said...

Yay, Jamie!!!

Tina said...

What an amazing happening! I wished the crew had filmed the jogger's face after Jamie found the key. Priceless!
I want to see your book! Save me a copy, we'll be in Utah in December!
Love Bert's blog!

Anonymous said...

You wrote a BOOK!? Wow! I am Most Impressed. Was it hard typing out that many words? What's it called? Can we buy it somewheres?

I think you and Jamie and the other search and rescue dogs are Most Amazing and Wonderful for helping out humans who get lost. I know it must be hard work but I bet it is the happiest thing EVER when somebuddy finds their way home cuz of you!

Wiggles & Wags,