A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘Debbie Davidson’

Saluting the Unsung Heroes of 9/11

German Shepherd Dog and his handler

They do the work that’s too dangerous and often impossible for people, and they do it amid the noises and stench that would make a normal person retch.  But, they don’t complain.  They are the Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs that are dispatched to the scene of natural and man-made disasters.  On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 these unsung heroes who scoured the rubble of the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon for survivors, who tried to answer the desperate pleas, “Can you find my mom?” or “Can you find my son?” will be honored in a ceremony in downtown Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the dogs found few survivors, and that, to a SAR dog, is most

Handler comforts his dog

depressing.  A SAR dog in training finds the whole exercise a game with a lovely reward at the end.  During these sessions, the dog knows that he will be rewarded for finding the person who volunteered to be trapped under rubble, and that motivates him to search.  He carries his enthusiasm and game-like spirit to the real world of finding survivors.  Dogs become dispirited when they fail in their searches.  I remember reading an account shortly after 9/11 of a handler whose dog worked in vain for hours day after day in search of survivors.  The dog became disheartened to the point where after working, the handler had to send his son to hide in the woods by their house so that the dog could successfully find him, and this raised the dog’s spirit.

Honoring SAR dogs at Westminster Dog Show

Sunday’s ceremony will be accessible by invitation only, but I hope that it will show up on youtube at a later date.  I remember how moving it was to see these same dogs honored at the opening ceremony of a Westminster Dog Show shortly after the attacks.  There were more dogs then.  Now, 10 years later, of the 100+ dogs that were deployed, only 12 survive.  I can just imagine how moving it will be to see these senior dogs, gray-muzzled, stiff-gaited, cloudy-eyed yet groomed and proud standing by their handlers as they receive recognition.  I take my hat off to these teams.  You are heroes, and I hold a prayer in my heart for those brave dogs that have since passed on.

Photo Credit:  German Shepherd Dog and his Handler.  Retrieved from http://herbgazin.livejournal.com/1427.html


Handler Comforts his Dog.  Retrieved from http://dogblog.dogster.com/2011/09/07/remembering-heroic-911-dogs/

Honoring SAR dogs at Westminster Dog Show.  Retrieved from http://petmemorialcards.com/mem2001-14c.html

Video Credit:  TheDogFiles (2010, September 3).  Dog Files-Ep. 11-Hero Dogs of 9/11 [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D91GQRX3YdY

A Sad Decision Made at White Mist Shepherds

Athena is the dog on the right

I worked Athena on the field in obedience along with other German Shepherds.  She didn’t have a good day.  She broke all of her stays, lagged miles behind me in the off-leash heel, and I had to call her about three times in the recall.  As for the retrieve.  I managed to get her to hold the dumbbell for me at the beginning of class; however, she very reluctantly went out for the dumbbell.   On one attempt I had her sit at heel and wait while I tossed the article–a bright orange plastic dumbbell.  I sent her out and she promptly brought me back a discarded styroform cup.

Half way through the class, it was evident that Athena had shut down.  It was not for psychological reasons, however;  she was simply not feeling well.  Three people whose judgement and advice I trust pointed out that Athena has not regained her strength yet, and she needs to rebuild her muscle mass.  I see the dog everyday, I noticed the improvements in her, but I needed an objective set of eyes to see what really is.

Coupled with this, Athena has an arrhythmia.  We made the decision that she would not be competing in the Jamaica Kennel Club’s All-Breed Show and Obedience Trials, and will retire from the obedience ring and will enjoy the rest of her life as a house pet.  We were so close to that CD.

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