Sunday, April 28, 2013

What a difference....two days in April.

 At this moment in time, Bert is
fast asleep or maybe
he has just passed out from exhaustion.
I am coming down from a caffeine high.
I only have caffeine when I
am driving long distances,
like coming back from today's search. 
I think I had four Pepsi's today
driving to and from the scene. 
Now I am jittery and nervous and
a bit jealous of Mr. Bert
lying peacefully in his bed.
 Saturday was our usual "Walk"
with our friends.  This is
a great time for both Bert and
me as we get to visit/play at our
precious river and local "Forest".
There are usually 5 to 20 people with
their k-9 friends who show up and it is
looked forward to all week.
Murphy's little sister becomes hitched to
Berts Side on these walks.  And sweet Bert
has an arrangement with Paulette
(Sophies human).
If Bert lets Sophie hang on him, run by him,
nibble at his ear, grab his hear, jump on him,
around him, behind him in front of him,
if he takes all her adoration in stride......Paulette will
treat him throughout the walk. 
That works for Bert
 When Bert isn't in the river, he is bounding
up dirt mountains and green hillsides.
It is a time of pure abandonment for him,
his buddy Goose (who was off
somewhere else as I took pictures)
and all his other friends.
 Occasionally we can get a few of them
to sit and pose.  (From left to right)
Annie, Bert, Sophie, KC, and Jake
After the walk, we spent the rest of the
day working at the kennels with Whitney and
Rocky.  It was a long day but it was also
a beautiful spring day and so work just
doesn't seem like work on a day like this.
Sunday Morning we had been asked
to head to Idaho
for a search.  (which by the way,
I couldn't have done
if it werent for my sweet neice Whitney
and Goose's human, Michelle who
covered for me at the kennel)
We were going to meet up with
another dog unit on sight. 
We have worked with them
before and they are very very good
so I was looking forward to working
with them again.
Unfortunately I woke up to a
nasty infection and
some painful muscle strain in my
shoulder from pretending
I could do the work of a man the day before.
A decision had to be made.
Do I want to stay home and be miserable,
sick and in pain, or head to Idaho and be
miserable and in pain.
Well of course we headed out.  I mean,
check out the scenery
that we had on the drive.
You might as well be looking
at something beautiful
while your in pain, rather
than lying in bed.....right?
Besides, that is what medications
are for.  Thank goodness for Advil.....
 I love our Utah Mountains.
When we hit Idaho
and our search area we were pulled
away from the mountains in to gorgeous meadows and pastures
bursting with early spring green growth.
 While Bert and I were waiting for the
Sheriff and my friends JD and
Sandra, a group of motorcycle riders
pulled up to the country grill.
I couldn't resist asking them to pose
with him.  They were awfully
good sports.  However a few
of them would not allow me
to photograph them
for one reason or another......
they said not to
check out any post office walls.
Wonder what they meant.
And here is where the search was.
What a peaceful land, gentle hills, dark
sky's filled with moisture.....a place
that you would find me and Bert on any
other day, walking the tracks like a hobo,
waiving at the conductors of the trains as they
thundered by.  The next view is from 4
months ago on an early morning in January.
But today it was the scene
of a cadaver search where we were looking
for anything we could find so that a family
could bury as much of their loved
one as possible.
 The accident occurred back in January on
a dark foggy morning.  A wonderful
man who I am told was a happy go lucky, friendly guy.  A guy who would be
behind you in a check out line and
suddenly offer to buy your groceries for you.
The guy who always played
Santa at Christmas time.
That kind of guy.   But on this morning
because of the weather, he did not
see the on coming train, he did not know
it was the last time he would
drive this road home to his family.
 The accident derailed 16 cars and
debris from both the truck and the
train-cars was spread all over
the side of the tracks. 
Three months later and even
though they have laid another thick
layer of gravel
down the hillside from the tracks,
debris is still everywhere. 
Our job was to work through
this debris and see if the dogs could
find any human remains under
the new rock layer or
down in the swamp below.
Here if you look carefully you can see
Kurts dog on a "Down" alert in
everal inches of water and dried
cat tail plants.    This area will have
to be dug and sifted
through screens and will most likely
have fragments of bone and flesh.
 JD the man I told you about in an earlier
post worked tirelessly through
the day, checking
out each and every alert
with the other deputies.
This was hard for me to watch as
it is JD's sisters husband who is
our victim.  It doesn't matter
how long you have been doing
this, it doesn't matter
how much we have seen......sometimes
it is just too close to home...
 Sandra (JD's wife) was working with me through much of the day.
Oh how I have missed these two
over the last few years.
You meet special people in SAR
work that stand out from
the rest.  That is JD and Sandra.
 Joe and Gunny check out the area along
the tracks as the wind blows up hill, carrying
human scent buried beneath the ground
as well as anything along the surface.
 Bert waits "not so patiently" for his turn
to work again.  
 If you look carefully you can see a small
red flag on a long post.  When a dog alerts to
something below the surface, the spot is
flagged then the diggers come in
and carefully sift through the area.
The finds today were as small
as tufts of human hair, small pieces
of skin and a 6 inch bone. 
 Moist areas can trap the scent and
make things cover a wider area
so we often mark an alert
then leave the area with the dog
and let the diggers
come and see what they can find. 
After words the dogs are brought
back into the area to see
if there is more interest. 
Cadaver work is much more arduous than
wilderness work.  You are covering
a much smaller area, but it is very intense.
The grids are small and you often
go over the area again and again
which can be frustrating to your dog.
I imagine them thinking "how many
times do I have to tell her"
 It was almost time to call it quits and I knew
Bert needed something a little less intense so
I put him on a "Slow Search" command and
we headed in the opposite direction
along the tracks.
I knew he wouldn't find anything on
this side of the road
but it would give him a chance to stretch
out and check out a couple of 
hundred yards of the tracks at a lope
instead of a more concentrated speed.
 I have always loved the endless sight
along railroad tracks.  Even in this situation
the call of adventure draws at your heart
when you view a sight like this.
 But it was time to get back in the old van
and head home to another kind of dream.
Of course taking pictures of the scenery
while you are driving isn't what
I would recommend but come on,
doesn't that old barn, those snow
covered mountains and the introduction
of spring on the grassy hill make ya smile?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 24 & 25 2013

I was just going with Vickie for
a drive.  I like to sit in the car and I am
happy to go with her, even if we don't get
to stop and play. 
I thought Wednesday was going to
just be a "Ride Along" day but
after getting some supplies for the
kennel, we decided to see if we could
find a different way to get to the lake.

We drove around for a while and finally
found a trail that came to this rickety
old bridge thing.  We crossed the bridge
carefully and then made our way to the lake.

 The pelicans are migrating now and there
were about 100 of them just bobbing
up and down in the lake.
 One day we will show you the lake,
it is on the other side of this hill,
but we didn't get any good pictures of it
today cause I was busy swimming
and Vickie was busy fighting off
the gnats.  It was so pretty though, that
she didn't mind it much.
Seems there are a lot of little flying insects
this year.  Or maybe it was because
we were standing by a bunch of dead fish
drying in the sun.
Thursday we were off to the school
so the kids could read to me.
we were greeted by all this really cool
chalk artwork the kids had done.
 Vickie says when she was young
the principal would have a fit if they
did chalk drawings all over the school,
but this principal encouraged it.
I tried helping Andrea with her
words, but it was pretty exhausting so
I just closed my eyes and fell asleep.
Today while we were there, the head of
United Way came and gave me and Vickie
a special Tutor pin to wear.  They told me
I was doing a great job.

They put my pin on a cool bandanna that they
made just for me.  Well, they made Toby one
too.   Isn't that so neat.  I am a Tutor.
 Now you may think that I would
have to keep my eyes on the book all
the time, but what is important is that
I make myself completely available
for the child to pet me while reading.
So if I should fall asleep
It is really ok.

I really have it tough,
Don't I.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 20th thru the 22nd 2013

 We were worried (well Vickie was worried)
that Allred had had so much bad things happen
to him on is walk about last
November and December
that he would never get back to normal.
I am here to say, that "The Evil One" is back
Worse than ever.  Poor Tanner cannot
walk through the kitchen without getting
smacked by Allred.  In fact, none of us
have escaped his wrath the last few weeks.
Even Vickie has a scar on her neck for a
late night mood that over came him.
IN some ways this makes her happy but in
other ways, it is like living with the devil again.
 John went hiking last weekend up to the ranch
and came back with good news.  The roads
will soon be open enough for us
to get up and play.
There were many fun wildlife critters
to see, among them Moose, Elk, A white wolf
and these critters.   Man.....A white wolf.
I so hope me and Vickie get to see it this year.
Back at the kennel we had a new guest
who moved into the trees surrounding us.
We decided to call her Pippin.
Sorry to many of my blogville friends,
but I think this is the cutest squirrel ever
and I am excited she has moved in.
 Monday Me and Goose took our humans
for a fun walk and swim.
 With the snow gone we can get
into lots of fun areas where I can climb
trees, romp through the woods,
anything I like.
 My Vickie's Heart tree is still here.
It is cute how she smiles every time she
sees it.  She calls it her "Double the Love" tree.
While your checking out the cool pictures
we took on our walk, I want to tell
you about one of the great characters in
our lives.  We got a call from him yesterday
while me and Vickie were at the University
testing for our Pet Partners re-certification.
By the way, I got the highest level on
the test and I have no restrictions.
That means, I am good to go anywhere at
all, no matter what the size of the group
is, how crazy a situation (like in the ER)
I get it all.  Yeah.
 Anyway, when we got out of the test
we were told to call our Past National SAR
President JD.  That was like, a blast from
the past for Vickie since she hadn't spoken to
them for years. 
She was so excited to call and say hi. 
JD was the head of his whole
county's Search and
Rescue department just over the
boarder of Idaho
for as long as we can remember.
He is a tall, lanky, cheerful, fun guy who made
every search in his county an event.
By that we mean, that even though it was
terrible, hard, dangerous, sad....what ever
the situation.  JD was there to cheer us on
and to bring a lighter side to everything.
(Don't get us wrong, he was one of the two best
people that Vickie and all of our teams
loved working with.  His professionalism,
his skills, everything made him an incredible
commander.)   But he was a joy to work with
at the same time and he took such good care
of all his members and all of our dog teams.
 Anyway, JD wanted some cadaver dogs.
Well, I am one heck of a cadaver dog myself
but since we have been doing so much
therapy work, I have gotten a little out of
practice so we referred him to another unit
of dogs that we have worked with in the
past to come out and help them find the
rest of a victim of a train/truck crash
that happened in January.
We are thinking of going along just
to be able to work with JD again and to
see his Sandra his wife, who is also a delight
and we have missed too.  Check in next week
and we will let you know if we have any
luck.  The victim is a close family member
to JD and Sandra so we are hoping
we can help bring some closure to them
after so many months.
Well, off to the hospital now.  I can't wait
tell the nurses how my test went.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Third Week of April

 Thursday Morning was a sad day
for our little Tanner.   His human passed
away.  Of course Tanner can be a member
of our family for the rest of his life
but it is always hard to lose a loved one.
We think Tanner knew, because at the time
she passed, he was eating breakfast. 
He stopped eating after only
a few bites and turned around
and looked into open space, then walked into
another room with his eyes looking upward
like he was walking with someone and listening
to them talk.  I know to some, that is just
something that happened but to me,
I wonder if his human came to say goodbye.
 Bert is moving on to another
classroom of children this week.
The class he read with over the last
few months asked us to come in for a minute
before we start the new group.
They said goodbye and gave us a beautiful
book with pictures of each child reading
to Bert and some very precious
letters from all of them.
There were even a few tears.  They all
wanted a big hug from Bert before we
left which he happily gave them.
 The new group of kids were excitedly waiting
for us and with a few words of
dog courtesy, we were off again
on a new adventure.

 Earlier in the week, we were both invited
to a Physicians Luncheon where
Bert was asked to "Just Be Himself"
as the doctors and nurses asked questions
about him and the other teams.
Then we were off to visit patients and family
members.   Bert was particularly loving
that day which was great as he had
some very special gentlemen who needed
his presence very much.
Now it is heading into the weekend which
is going to be all about PLAY.