|Sonic, the Search and Rescue Dog|
(Reposted from the Blog "Some Assembly Required" by John Sealander.)
I met Sonic today. Sonic is a search and rescue dog. He is a member of an elite Search Dog Foundation rescue team. The Search Dog Foundation has sent dogs to Katrina. They were there in the aftermath of 9/11. Now this organization is sending teams to Japan to help with the rescue efforts there. One of my veterinary hospital clients is sponsoring Sonic and in appreciation, Sonic's handlers brought him to the hospital today to meet the staff and explain how search and rescue dogs are trained. I was just there to photograph the event, but I was just as impressed with Sonic as everybody else. These search and rescue dogs are absolutely amazing. They all go through a grueling two year training program and must perform absolutely flawlessly before they are certified for rescue operations. Dogs like Sonic can climb up and down vertical fire engine ladders to reach people trapped on upper floors of buildings. They are trained to respond to their handlers commands from as far as 100 yards away. When they are working, they are not distracted by cats or squirrels. Part of their training involves placing tasty hot dogs and Taco Bell take out meals nearby during a search exercise and seeing if the smell of food broke their concentration. It doesn't. If you need help, you can only hope that one of these amazing dogs is nearby. Have you guys ever hear the search dog's creed? It's worth repeating. "If you are ever buried under a ton of rubble, trapped where no one can find you, or caught in the aftermath of a storm, I promise to sniff you out. I promise to go about my work with a wagging tail and a hero's heart. I promise to ignore all the fascinating smells out there and concentrate on finding you. I promise to never give up." I only spent an hour or so with Sonic this afternoon, but that was enough to convince me that he would never give up.