Four Feet And A Tail. Memories Of Our 9-11 Search And Rescue Dogs

*Featured Post: ‘Cowboy’ a FEMA Search And Rescue Dog Courtesy AP

 

cowboy

NEVER. FORGET.

Never forget their courage, perseverance, undying unconditional love that drove them on at first to find the last few survivors, then the daunting task of finding loved ones, giving some closure to shattered families.

Over three hundred dogs searched. The dogs that were primarily ‘live’ search dogs became despondent when they eventually felt, then smelled death all around them in the hell-hole called ‘the pit’.

They did more than search. They gave comfort to the first responders when human comfort wasn’t enough, and canine comfort and understanding could break through. Perhaps that was their greatest victory in that most horrifying of times. Comfort. Peace. The tranquility that washes over a stressed human when he lets the healing energy of a trained service dog tickle through their fingertips that softly brush the fur on the dog…and the positive energy that courses from one entity in the world that truly understands at that moment in time what a hurting soul is feeling.

Our last surviving dog from that day just passed away earlier this year. These heroes all are at eternal rest now, a well-deserved one. No broken buildings, smoke or human depravity there…just peace.

GOD BLESS OUR SERVICE DOGS

siriusIn memory of K-9 Sirius, the only K-9 to be lost in the disaster. His partner made it out alive.

 

 

 

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Where Were You That Terrible Day When The World As We Knew It Changed Forever? And A Nation’s Heart Broke.

Do you remember where you were? What you were doing? You’re thoughts, fears and concerns at that one defining moment of time for our country?

I write of course about 9-11.

Many of you who read this, hadn’t even been a gleam in their mother’s eye when 9-11 happened. That is the most sad part for me, when I remember. That there are people who don’t know what the world was like…before.

~~~

My husband Bill and I have always loved the mountains. And the glory that Autumn brings to our region of the country draws lines of cars on Fall weekends, which is why the folks in these parts like to go up to the mountains in the middle of the week, when there aren’t so many tourists.

It was shaping up to be an awesome Fall. The sky that day was as blue as the bluest robin’s egg. And clear! Crisp like the first bite of a McIntosh apple, it was…that little nip in the early morning air, the smell of leaves, changing, the light in the morning being so bright, and the days each growing shorter…

The one tiny sleigh bell that we have attached to our kitchen door chimed as Bill barreled into the kitchen, with his backpack from work, and followed by two hungry Dalmatians~ Hannah and Echo. I had the day off, and had slept in, knowing that the sweet bell in the kitchen would awaken me when Bill came home after working night shift at the local hospital. I worked the three to eleven shift as a pre-op nurse at a smaller regional hospital. We’ve always had bells in our home. It’s family thing. Mom put up sleigh bells (real ones) on the front door one year. She loved them so much, she never took them down. First my sister adopted the sleigh bell idea. When her kids grew up, lo and behold, they all have sleigh bells on their front door too! My brother’s home has sleigh bells too, on the front door.

I’m a big fan of “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart. In nearly the last scene of the film, Jimmy is holding his little girl, next to the Christmas tree. “Look Daddy!” she exclaimed in her baby voice. “Look, a bell just rang on the tree…Mommy says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” I’ve always loved that thought. Hence the bells on our entryway to our home.

I called a cheerful “hello”, and Bill hugged me and gave me a big kiss. “Fall is here! Can you smell it?”, he asked me with a huge grin on his face. “Yup, there’s not a doubt!” I smiled right back. “We need to get up to the mountains…perhaps next week?” I suggested. “Lemme look at my schedule and we will figure something out with yours. “  Bill mused.The eternal juggling schedules that run and ruin the life of anyone in the medical field. My family, all artists, had not a clue why I couldn’t just appear at all the different family dinners. Bill and I had stopped trying at this point to explain, and just tried for a little time to ourselves once in a while, and  Autumn was definitely one of those times.

“Still tired?” Bill asked me with concern written over his face. “Yeah, it seems I can never get enough sleep, even when it’s eight or more hours.”I complained. “It seems so hard to bounce back from a shift, and I don’t remember it ever being like that when I was in nursing at first” I muttered. “Take a nap, then, I”ll watch TV for a few minutes to unwind, and be right in after I give the dogs breakfast, OK?” Bill said. It sounded heavenly to me, so he tucked me back into bed, and I heard the munching and crunching noises of two very happy and hungry Dalmatians. Then outside they went to our half-acre in the back to stretch those long legs. Before too long, they wanted inside, to take a nap in their vari-kennels. I heard Bill start a small load of scrubs for both of us. When we woke up later in the day, before dinner, I would throw them in the dryer, and they would be nice and fresh for Bill’s shift that night, and mine in the next afternoon. Mundane things. How our household ran.

I was quite the little house-Frau as my mom would say. All we needed was a child or two to complete the picture…and life would be perfect in Bill and my eyes. Only if….Last September we had not found out why I was so tired all the time. Why my arms and legs burned with pain constantly, so that I could never find a night’s rest. Last September this time we were in Nashville at a neurological specialist, who properly diagnosed me with MS. And our little world crumbled. There would be no children or grandchildren~ the interferon I took on that very day last September in the office, and that I continue to take to the present day decided that. All our hopes and plans for the future seemed to revolve around my MS, and where and when it would stabilize. I thought that at least for us, the worst had happened. But it hadn’t.

Bill turned on the TV. It was 8:46 am Eastern Standard Time.

I was on the cusp of finally falling off to sleep, when a mighty gasp woke me up! It was Bill. And that gasp had reverberated through the entire house….I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room. Bill was staring at the remote controller, as though perhaps it had broken or something. “What’s wrong?, Bill…what’s happened?” I shook his shoulder, and he looked me in the face, tears glistening in his beautiful green eyes. I started to quake and shiver like a leaf, the rush of epinephrine my body was used to giving me in my work at the hospital was doing me no good now.

I looked at the TV, but it made no sense. There were pictures of police and fire-fighters driving hell for leather somewhere in NYC, the announcer was on a rooftop for some reason that I couldn’t comprehend.

I turned back to Bill, sat on the couch next to him and threw one of our favorite coverlets around both our shoulders, we hugged each other like that for several minutes, then Bill whispered over my shoulder…”a plane, a big plane has hit one of the Twin Towers in NY.” I rubbed my hand round and round across his broad shoulders…”perhaps it’s a light plane that had a malfunction?” I murmured. “No…it’s more than that, I think.” Bill said in a hushed voice, as our attention snapped back to the TV set….in time to see another huge jetliner make a deliberate bank to the left, so that more floors would be taken out when it crashed into the other tower. And in front of our eyes, we saw horror unfold real-time. If you think people far away on that day that just happened to pick up the remote and saw the attack as it actually happened, haven’t been traumatized, they have. It’s a scar on each one of our hearts to see such depravity.

This time, we both gasped. We couldn’t seem to turn away…so many people were dying in front of our eyes…it seemed a sacrilege to turn away, or turn it off. Then about forty-five minutes later…we heard about Shanksville, PA. The order was given by the President to stop all air flight within and without the United States immediately. Then the last blow…another plane, and it hit the Pentagon, more lives wasted, dead, murdered.

Bill and I have always enjoyed the news and discussing it. Not after that day.

Then there were the frantic phone calls to family and friends making sure everyone was OK, and no place near where all the carnage was. We were blessed. I’m a Jersey girl, my Dad had a commerical art studio in NYC for many years before he retired. But no family, and no friends were there or hurt. A miracle.

In the weeks after the attack, I cannot tell you how eery things were. Everyone wanted to do something, but it didn’t seem as though they knew what that might be. I told Bill that perhaps I should  go to ground zero to work. He looked at me, horrified. “Absolutely not. You’ve got MS. You wouldn’t last an hour out in that heat and you know it!” I never mentioned it again. It felt little by little I was going to have to give up a lot of things about being a nurse. I wouldn’t win this round. Bill was absolutely right. No one would want me there. I was more liability than help.

No one went out except to get the bare essentials, go to work, go to school, and stay home. It seemed that way in everyone’s family. Everyone pulled together. Family once again became paramount for people, not what they could buy, buy, buy working insane hours. In that respect, 9-11 was a wake-up call to treasure your family and friends as though they are fine jewelry slipping softly in your hands.

At home, that hated TV, was on night and morning, never shutting off, always in the background. No one knew what might be next. So we kept the TV on.    The sky was just as blue as on 9-11, the crispness in the air just as enticing as it was the day before. But the silence. It was deafening. No planes flew in or our or about the U.S. For an entire week. Can you even imagine?

Our house is in the larger glide-path west to east to our regional airport about 25 miles from the house. All of a sudden, that background sound of ‘every day’ wasn’t there. Just the wind keening as the leaves fell in all their golden glory…and no-one to appreciate them this Fall. Or for many autumns afterward.

“Listen!” said Bill a few days later. I listened…and a smile came back to my face. That background noise was back, We had suffered a horrific bruise made by the world’s scum. We hadn’t imagined that filth like the things that brought down the towers, and Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon could ever touch our shores. We took pride in knowing that the only state in the union that had been affected by war had been Pearl Harbor. In the collective consciousness, we couldn’t imagine being left so exposed to attack.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wish I could take you back to the year before 9-11. People were happy for the most part. We had just celebrated both my nephew and niece’s marriages within months of one another, my sister’s kids. Because I am a “whoops” baby, I’m closer in age to my niece and nephew. We grew up together. It had been a fun year, planning and helping another friend with her wedding too, and then attending and dancing till I was in bare feet (wore the shoes out!). A spectacular year. A golden year. One to cherish and hold dear…..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My sister was on the line, it was midday, 9-11. “Jennifer was supposed to go to her first pre-natal appointment today, downtown. Do you think she should go?” I heard the frisson of fear in my sister’s question. She feared for her daughter, and unborn grandchild. “Go” but tell her to be aware of her surroundings, if anything is weird or making her feel odd, leave.” I suggested. We joked that downtown Nashville wasn’t a likely candidate for terrorists. Even so, there’s always copy-cats. So Jennifer went. And nine months later Madison was born, all new and pink, she would never know what it was like not to wonder if one should go to certain places, or travel to certain areas, because of 9-11. How unbearably sad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

April, 2002: As I finally got a chance to hold my great-niece and gaze into her Gerber-baby face, I knew that Jennifer, and my nephew Jay, expecting his first child any day now….they represent hope to me. Hope that perhaps their children won’t have to live a life always on guard, watchful, distrusting people, because it seems we’ve lost the ability to share our love for humanity, for one another,one person at a time since 9-11. We all lost something that terrible day and the terrible days afterward, as different presidents and different ways to end the terror were doing no good. We lost our hope.

Try and get some of that hope back that was stolen from us that day. Say “hi” to your neighbors. Take a casserole to the little old woman that lives in a house all alone. Hug your friends. Put down the phones and start relating to people face to face. You’ll be surprised how many things you’ve been missing. Treasure the family and friends that you have, for no day is a given for any one of us. Kiss a baby. Kiss your dog. (don’t kiss the dog, then the baby…thats yukky) Play with your family. Play with your dog….Don’t depend so much on others to make you happy~ you make your own happiness and your own Karma. So in memory of all those fine souls we lost, get on with your life. They would want you to. Try and believe again that this is still the best country in the world to raise your family. Be an optimist. Watch your dog, he knows how to live and be happy. He would be ecstatic to help teach you how to love unconditionally, play, relax, and oh so many other wonderful doggie helps.

Listen to the dog. Dog’s know. DSCN4304 (2)

http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-timeline

Italian Search And Rescue Dogs, Leo, and Sarotti Save Children Trapped Beneath The Rubble of the Towns!

Area of Italy affected by huge earthquake

Do you remember when an earthquake or some other disturbance in the world would happen, and the American Red Cross and dozens if not hundreds of first responders, the National Guard, and any other resources that we had would be sent to see if they could help.

But…it seems that along with so much else…America sits and twiddles its thumbs trying to decide which bathroom is proper to use…you know,  ‘ important stuff’. But hasn’t sent any help. How tragic. Italy has been one of our close friends over the years.AAmatrace, Italia

I have cousins who live near Monte Cassino, which if you know WWII parlance, you know there was a HUGE battle between the Nazis and the Western powers. My people lived in the town of Panaccione, in the shadow of the great mountain that houses the monastery still. (My maiden name is Panaccione). Anyhow, some years ago we all met one another, and it was a fantastic family reunion.

My first concern was that their town was OK, they had suffered enough during the war…and a LinkedIn member was able to confirm that the town was fine, and not near the affected areas.Amatrace after the earthquake

How neat is that? That someone you met on LinkedIn, a world away, can check for you to make sure your extended family is OK? It makes you believe in good things again.

I know that my posts of late have had to deal with the heat injuries that have to stop with our police K-9s. But I’ve written much more about all the different K-9 helpers here and abroad that help us when times are tough, and every day, like mine do.

Here is a heart-warming story from devastation and heartache in central Italy and how K-9 search and rescue dogs have brought back two children thought lost in the quake.

The towns hit in the devastating earthquake in central Italy were small family towns. They had many homes and other buildings that date back to Medieval times. No more. They are for the most part gone, unable after hundreds of years to deal with such a horrendous quake. Little is left but the cobblestones from centuries past, and the blue tent cities that have sprung up to house the now homeless population. The Italian Government has pledged a large amount of money to help rebuild the towns. Both of which are little more than kindling now.Search and Rescue dog in Amatrace, Italy

But what is that there? It’s a big black waggling tail, and another, and another, there’s a yellow one…over 50 dogs are working the devastated towns. Looking for the living, and now more and more as time tics steadily looking for the dead.italian search and rescue dogs

Leo is a beautiful black Labrador retriever. He’s four and a half years old. He’s from the search and rescue team in Pescara. He went looking where neighbors and family members knew a family had lived with their two daughters. Sixteen hours after the quake…Leo alerted, and little Georgia was pulled gently from the wreckage….a miracle. Leo had arrived on scene just then, and within 40 seconds he found Georgia alive. It took another 9 hours of digging with bare hands to free her from what once had been her home. Here is a video of Leo at work:

Video: https://twitter.com/poliziadistato/status/769174257045794820

Another dog, a German Shepard Dog, named Sarotti was instrumental in the rescue of a 10-year-old boy buried in the rubble.starrioti saves a child

On Sunday, the Pope declared a day of mourning, as the bodies of those found in the rubble are buried with as much devotion and love that is possible in this situation. Everyone keeps repeating…our first responders are exhausted, they’ve worked constantly since the quake started.

It would be nice if America sent some help. Money is nice, but having extra hands on the ground is invaluable.

And do you know another miracle that has come out of this tragedy? A lesson to us? Over fifty search and rescue dogs from all over Italy were used to find the alive and the dead. It’s August, and it’s hot and humid in central Italy, so far from the coast…The sites were unstable, with continual after-shocks, it was dusty and dirty….NOT ONE DOG DIED FROM HEAT-STROKE. Seems like the Italians treat their K-9 heroes with honor. Unlike some of ours.

   God bless our service dogs nationally and internationally!

Dio benedica i nostri cani di servizio a livello nazionale e internazionale!

    This is a link from Fox News how you can help the victims of the quake:

Italian Red Cross: Italy’s Red Cross has set up a general fund to support those affected by the earthquake.

*Pictures of the map of Italy and the before and after pictures of the earthquake provided courtesy The New York Times

*Pictures of the dogs working the site provided by state photographer.

Every Dog Has It’s Day! Today Is National Dog Day!

National Dog Day

 

Happiness is a Warm Puppy (640x512)
Team Lisa and Jet Jan.2007~April 2011

 

     Every dog has its day, and I wish more of ’em had their special day…I comfort myself by thinking of the magic that is Canine Assistants, in Milton, Georgia. Not really knowing what to expect when I received my first helper dog

It was so much more than just receiving a dog. I got my mobility back, no longer had to worry about seizures and no-one being there for me….basically, after six terrible years I got my life back! All because of a sweet yellow dog named Jet, who saw my potential and drew upon it till I became confident in my new life…one without nursing, without driving….without so many things.

The worst thing I was now after all that I was without…him.

    Jet had to leave me when he was less than five years old. After being a team for less than four years. He had cancer, and he died in my arms. My gravitar is a picture of he and I that magical day when my dog ‘picked’ me, instead of the other way around.

     Eight months later…again at the magical farm in Georgia, a ‘cousin’ to Jet, ambled over to me and decided to ‘choose’ me! His name is Frax. He’s one of the bigger dogs they’ve ever bred. No one knows why he’s so big. Big feet, looooong legs, loooong tail, loooong body, and a big serious face that still reminds me so of the late actor Fred Gwinn. Eight inches taller than Jet, a deep golden color with cream-colored ‘wings’ that all yellow labs have~ except he isn’t, he’s a Golden-Lab. Oh, and he ‘talks’ to us, and anyone he thinks is interesting!

     Meeting Frax and deciding to go on after Jet was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. In my heart I know it was the right one. Jet would never give up, and he would never have let me. So I honor him and his successor tonight, National Dog Day.

Freedom Has Four Legs and a Tail
First walk on the beach in years…Jet’s first little victory, and you know they add up…

Team Lisa and Frax.  Asleep together in what Frax thinks is “his” bed. He thinks that he’s mighty nice letting us humans up on the queen-sized bed to sleep with him in a pack!DSCN4394 - Copy (2)

 

DSCN4292Frax and I August 2015

Team Lisa n’ Frax                                                    Frax and I this past spring

 

Frax’s day in the sunshine, as he suns and rolls in our backyard!Frax sunbathing May 2016

K-9 Officer Zeke Left To Broil To Death In The Back of A Patrol Car 8-15-16. Seems The Parties At Fault Have Been Let Go

Zeke murdered by handler

Whomever the ‘handler’ was for K-9 officer Zeke, he should be dismissed at the very least. Prosecuted at the very most. Once again, a dog left to roast alive in the back of a patrol vehicle. An “investigation” is ongoing. It’s not in the record who was the person who left Zeke to roast in the back of a vehicle.

After all the articles, all the publicity about these horrendous deaths…they keep on. Many times in literature from the departments the dog is said to have “passed away suddenly” after getting overheated. That’s wordspeak for had a “ heart attack due to heat stroke.”

When asked Chief Watson would not answer the question if any charges will be brought up on the ‘handler’ that left Zeke to roast to death in the back of a squad car on August 15th. They are waiting on the results of an autopsy being done at Texas A&M. Those results ought to be back by now, ‘dontcha think? It’s August 22nd and still no report. Hard to believe.

As if things aren’t bad enough for this case. Zeke was purchased by the Ranger, Tx police department with the other half of Zeke’s purchase coming from private citizens. It doesn’t say how much was paid, but Zeke had only been with the department since earlier this year. It seems the that good people of Ranger, TX should be demanding what happened to their one dog K-9 unit.

     Once again, if you can’t take care of the dog…DON’T GET IT! This isn’t a game to see how many K-9 officers every department can get (and forget in the back of a patrol car and fry!)

       Finally this small police department did what so many larger ones refuse to do. They dismissed the officer that is responsible for Zeke’s death! (However they aren’t releasing his name!)

This is a police department that needs to garb up in a warm fur parka full down the legs, with a fur hat and fur mukluks on. Then they all need to sit in the back of their cruisers for three hours with the windows all rolled up, and no air conditioning or water. Perhaps they should do this quarterly. Perhaps then they will remember.

I doubt it. Anyone who works with a K-9 cop day in and day out, then leaves them in the back of the patrol car either is the most sociopathic individual I’ve ever heard of, or the most stupid. Probably a little of both.Zeke murdered and left in back of hot car 2 - Copy

Zeke was a three year old Dutch Shepard, that was medically retired by a previous department due to a finding of arthritis that likely would have progressed and made working impossible. The department instead put him back into service after purchasing Zeke for $3000.00 half the money was raised by the citizens. Zeke went to work in April.

Rest in peace, little brother Zeke. You did good in your time on earth, even if humans let you down, you never let them down.

God Bless the service dogs

Whomever the ‘handler’ was for K-9 officer Zeke, he has been dismissed . Prosecuted at the very most. Once again, a dog left to roast alive in the back of a patrol vehicle. An “investigation” is ongoing. It’s not in the record who was the person who left Zeke to roast in the back of a vehicle.

After all the articles, all the publicity about these horrendous deaths…they keep on. Many times in literature from the departments the dog is said to have “passed away suddenly” after getting overheated. That’s wordspeak for had a “ heart attack due to heat stroke.”

When asked Chief Watson would not answer the question if any charges will be brought up on the ‘handler’ that left Zeke to roast to death in the back of a squad car on August 15th. They are waiting on the results of an autopsy being done at Texas A&M. Those results ought to be back by now, ‘dontcha think? It’s August 22nd and still no report. Hard to believe.

As if things aren’t bad enough for this case. Zeke was purchased by the Ranger, Tx police department with the other half of Zeke’s purchase coming from private citizens. It doesn’t say how much was paid, but Zeke had only been with the department since earlier this year. It seems the that good people of Ranger, TX should be demanding what happened to their one dog K-9 unit.

Once again, if you can’t take care of the dog…DON’T GET IT! This isn’t a game to see how many K-9 officers every department can get (and forget in the back of a patrol car and fry!)

Finally this small police department did what so many larger ones refuse to do. They dismissed the officer that is responsible for Zeke’s death! (However they aren’t releasing his name!)

This is a police department that needs to garb up in a warm fur parka full down the legs, with a fur hat and fur mukluks on. Then they all need to sit in the back of their cruisers for three hours with the windows all rolled up, and no air conditioning or water. Perhaps they should do this quarterly. Perhaps then they will remember.

I doubt it. Anyone who works with a K-9 cop day in and day out, then leaves them in the back of the patrol car either is the most sociopathic individual I’ve ever heard of, or the most stupid. Probably a little of both.

Zeke was a three year old Dutch Shepard, that was medically retired by a previous department due to a finding of arthritis that likely would have progressed and made working impossible. The department instead put him back into service after purchasing Zeke for $3000.00 half the money was raised by the citizens. Zeke went to work in April.

Rest in peace, little brother Zeke. You did good in your time on earth, even if humans let you down, you never let them down.

God Bless the service dogs

here is the link to the Ranger, Texas Facebook page. I’m sure they would love to hear from the public about their ‘care’ of Zeke.

https://www.facebook.com/rangertxpolice/

 

http://www.ktxs.com/news/ranger-k9-officer-dies-after-being-found-unresponsive-in-patrol-car/50708714