Just before 8 p.m. on June 18, 2020, Handler Eric Darling received a call from the Ventura County Fire Department to assist in confirming no one was left behind after a fire in a drainage pipe in Santa Paula, CA. The tube is a space known to be used as a shelter by the homeless in the area, so it needed to be thoroughly checked.
Both of Eric’s search dogs — Mazie, a human remains detection canine, and Ben, a 12-year-old SDF-trained live find canine — searched well and made quick work of their mission. Eric shared that this may well be Ben’s last deployment as he recently completed his fourth FEMA Certification in February and is already past the age when most search dogs retire.
Search dogs in training are climbing to new heights at the campus, thanks to new agility space
In June, SDF celebrated the completion of the latest training area on the campus — the new Paws For Play Agility Yard! Generously provided by longtime SDF friend and supporter, Marie Morrisroe, the welcoming new space is fully enclosed, allowing for more off-leash work with dogs who may not be as far along in their training, and new pieces of agility equipment, including a sway bridge and raised platforms.
Judging by all the happy tail wags, it seems canines-in-training are loving the new area to run and play, while also learning valuable skills needed for disaster search. Coupled with our other existing agility equipment under our covered training arena, the new agility area enables the SDF Training Team to work with multiple canine recruits simultaneously, providing more repetitions on the obstacles and more training interactions every day. The agility exercises foster better footing stability for our canines when they eventually search the rubble pile, giving them confidence and helping to minimize the risk of injuries – all while having fun while they are at it!
∙What to consider as dog adoptions surge during pandemic:
Four Tips from Susan Marie, Host of The Doggy Diva Show
As word grew that people were going to have to shelter-in-place for an unspecified length of time, animal shelters began to empty. Thousands of people realized that they may be lonely during this time of social-distancing from family and friends. In some situations, parents came to the conclusion that their children needed a happy diversion and agreed to add a furkid to their family. Whatever the reason, shelters began to empty and animal lovers, like myself, were thrilled. However, families are seeking guidance on what dog might be right for them. Those who have already added a dog to their family are concerned with how to keep their new pet happy. Below are some points to consider, as you ponder which animal to bring home and what to do once they step their excited paws through your threshold.
1. The coronavirus pandemic will not last forever, but adopting your “furever friend” is a lifetime commitment of unconditional love. The first thing to consider is your family’s lifestyle. Are you looking for a dog that is high energy that will join the kids in playful romps in the yard and long runs? Or are you looking for a less active dog who enjoys binge watching TV while you are on Zoom meetings and the kids are in online classes? Do you want your dog to be happy with a leisurely walk after dinner and easy, quiet fun in the home or yard? A senior citizen might consider a smaller senior pup who enjoys cuddling on the sofa and healthy snacks. It is important to keep in mind your pup’s breed, size and temperament when considering what your home and lifestyle can reasonably accommodate. Though the adoption process itself may differ slightly during COVID-19, please feel free to contact your local shelter and rescue organization and they will gladly help you choose the “furever friend” that is best for your home and family.
2. Consider preparing for the pandemic as you would to prepare for a disaster, like hurricane season. Compile a first aid kit and an emergency kit and for your pet that includes at least two weeks of food and treats, medications, medical records, veterinarian(s) contact information. Also be sure to have all necessary everyday supplies, such as collars, leashes, harnesses and disposable bags. Make sure your dog has ID tags and is microchipped with your current contact information as well as that of an emergency contact outside the area.
3. How much time will you be able to spend with your dog during and after the pandemic? More time spent at home together while you work from home is a great opportunity to bond with your furkid and also increases your availability to train. For some behavioral concerns, including separation anxiety, please contact a professional trainer who may offer online classes. When you return to work, keep in mind who will look after your pup during the day. You may decide to take your pup to doggy day care or hire a professional pet sitter to visit your home in the morning and afternoon for bathroom breaks and exercise.
4. If adopting is something that you may not be able to commit to at this time, please consider fostering a dog. Contact your local shelter or rescue organization to see if they have a foster plan that better suits your family’s lifestyle. Keep in mind adopting a pet into your family is a lifetime commitment that will change both of your lives “furever.”
For over fifteen years, Susan Marie has been spreading the word about puppy love through her national weekly radio show, The Doggy Diva Show. Susan is also the author of the award-winning Miss Olive children’s book trilogy The Doggy Diva Diaries.
Hi and Lois