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Working Dogs In The News


The Dog Works Hard For The Money

Dogs do important jobs. There are many areas where dogs make all the difference. Detection, Search & Rescue or Service dogs love to work and they work hard.

This is a companion lens to my Working Dogs lens. This is where I'll post news storys about working dogs. 100% of the royalties from this lens go to First Coast No More Homeless Pets.

Note: I'm in the process of moving stories from previous years to their own lenses. I'll post the links to these archives here as soon as they are active.

Working Dogs In The News 2008 Archive

Every once in a while I find an interesting website, blog post or slideshow. Whenever I find them I'll add them here.

These five German shepherds, shown with owner James Symington, are genetic replicas, clones, of Trakr, a famous K9 police partner and search and rescue dog. Symington is training the dogs to help in search and rescue efforts throughout the world. Pho

These five German shepherds, shown with owner James Symington, are genetic replicas, clones, of Trakr, a famous K9 police partner and search and rescue dog. Symington is training the dogs to help in search and rescue efforts throughout the world. Pho

Cloned dogs training for search and rescue

posted Jan. 17, 2011

Malibu has recently become one of several training grounds throughout the greater Los Angeles area for five German Shepherds as rescue dogs. But these are no ordinary dogs. They are genetic replicas, clones, of a K9 police partner, a famous search and rescue dog named Trakr.

Trakr has been credited with finding hundreds of people and more than $1 million worth of stolen goods. His crowning achievement, though, came in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11, 2001.

Trakr and his owner, former Canadian police officer James Symington, arrived at Ground Zero from Halifax, Nova Scotia within 14 hours of the towers' collapse.

“At some point during the morning of September 12, Trakr got a hit, indicating that somebody alive was buried beneath the surface,” Symington said.

Rescue workers excavated the area and pulled out a woman. She would be the last survivor found after 9/11.

Dr. Jane Goodall feted Trakr with a humanitarian service award, and his story was featured on CNN, the CBS “Early Show” and other national news programs.

A few years later, Symington and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he works as a manager in the entertainment industry. It was there that Trakr's odyssey took a turn for the surreal. In 2008, Symington learned of a contest being conducted by BioArts International, a biotech corporation based near San Francisco, for the “World's Most Clone worthy Dog.” Trakr by that point was 15 years old, aging and infirm. Symington entered Trakr into the contest, along with a DNA sample. He won, and later, five genetic replicas of Trakr were produced at the Sooam Biotech Foundation, a laboratory in South Korea.

In June of 2009, the puppies arrived in Los Angeles to meet Symington for the first time. Symington gave them names to reflect different qualities of Trakr: Trustt [sic], Solace, Valor, Prodigy and Deja vu. But they would never meet their genetically identical father-Trakr had died two months earlier.

Symington then founded the Team Trakr Foundation, resolving to train the dogs for search and rescue operations. In Symington's vision, Team Trakr will operate similarly to Doctors Without Borders. Whenever a disaster, such as last year's earthquake in Haiti, occurs, a Team Trakr dog will be sent to the area to assist in search and rescue operations. Symington estimates that a search and rescue dog is the equivalent of 20 or 30 human searchers.

“Dogs have a keen sense of smell and use their noses in ways people cannot, searching an area faster and more efficiently and increasing the chances of finding people alive,” he said.

Symington said he is grateful for the gift of the dogs, but wishes to avoid becoming embroiled in the debate over cloning.

“I respect that cloning is not for everyone,” he said.

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BioArts International initiated the cloning contest in 2007 to gauge interest in the commercial cloning market among private pet owners, but has since discontinued it after lower-than-expected interest apparently answered its question. One significant benefit of cloning in this particular case is that each of the dogs possesses Trakr's unique characteristics-an incredible drive, air-scenting ability and adaptability to diverse terrains-that are difficult to find in one dog. By having Trakr cloned, BioArts International effectively short-circuited nature to produce five world-class search and rescue dogs.

The dogs began training in December under the direction of Kevin Gallivan, an experienced trainer from Nova Scotia who trained Symington and Trakr in 1995. In February or March, each dog will be matched with a handler. The handlers will then be integrated into the training, which Symington hopes to complete by April. At that point, the dogs will be ready for deployment wherever they are needed across the globe.

The dogs have been training at a private property in Malibu for one or two days a week.

“The Malibu community has been very welcoming and supportive,” Symington said.

Of particular help, he said, have been Malibu residents Nereida Heath and Christina Carmel. Heath and Carmel learned of the organization's cause and helped locate training locations in Malibu.

Heath said she fell in love with Team Trakr's mission, because, she said, “It's not a matter of if [a disaster's] going to happen, it's when.”

Once the dogs' training is complete, Symington, an advocate for rescuing shelter dogs, intends to begin phase two of Team Trakr's mission, called Operation Second Chance. They hope to rescue dogs from shelters and then train them as search and rescue dogs.

People who wish to learn more or donate to Team Trakr can do so by visiting its Web site,

The process of training search and rescue dogs

James Symington stands beside trainer Kevin Gallivan and Trustt-the dog Symington said looks most like Trakr, the dog from which Trustt was cloned. With what is called a “kong,” an oblong pink ball, in his hand, Symington runs alongside a row of six red cloth-covered tripods, hiding behind the fourth one. Trustt strains at the leash, jumping up and down, before Gallivan allows him to follow. Trustt soon finds Symington with the kong and Symington rewards him by throwing it to him.

“That's a good boy!” Symington yells repeatedly, and pets him.

In this exercise, Symington and Gallivan are training Trustt, along with the other dogs, to “speak for the kong.” It is an essential skill for the dogs to have during search and rescue missions, when they will have to rely on their noses, instead of their eyes, to find humans trapped under rubble and debris.

The process of training a search and rescue dog, Symington said, takes about four months.

“The dogs have to be trained in obedience, agility, tracking, article searches, area searches and building searches,” he said.

Most of the training boils down to basic psychology: give the dog an objective, then reward him with positive verbal and physical feedback.

In the case of missing persons, tracking is an important skill. That involves the dog putting his nose to the ground to follow a human scent trail. Everywhere humans go, they leave behind pheromones and skin rafts, microscopic portions of skin, which dogs can smell. Symington said this differs from area searching, where “the dog uses the air currents to detect a person's location. Trakr (who died several years ago) was able to detect and find persons up to two miles away using this method.”

“The whole game of search and rescue is a game of hide and seek,” he said. “They associate human scent with the toy.”

But though it is a game to the dogs, Symington knows that their success has very real consequences for people trapped during disasters.

According to, more than 50,000 search and rescue missions take place each year in the United States alone. Ninety percent of these are conducted by volunteers. If Team Trakr is successful, it could result in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of saved lives each year.

For now, the dogs will continue training in different locations and landscapes. They need to be able to search in wooded areas, open meadows, collapsed rubble, and in rain or sun, snow or sleet. Symington said he welcomes any volunteers in Malibu with large properties to offer as a new training ground.

“We're always looking for new places to train.”


Lex The Dog With The Purple Heart - posted Dec. 13, 2010

MoMo The Rescue Dog - posted Dec. 13, 2010

Therapy Dog Casper


Michigan State Police K9 "BANE"

Missing Since 11/13/10 from Ocqueoc, MI

Bane is a 4 year old sable colored German Shepherd who is assigned to Trooper Jamie Bullis of the Michigan State Police in Alpena Michigan. This team has been together for 2 and a half years, performing numerous searches for drugs, explosives, and missing persons.

When the original Facebook group was created, the goal was simple, let a few friends know and ask that they pass along the message to a few more friends. Quickly word traveled across the county, the state, nation, and even beyond US borders. Jamie and Joy Bullis are truly amazed and appreciative of the support they have received. There are hundreds of entries on Facebook expressing hope and support that Bane will find his way home.

This site and Facebook is about bringing a missing K9 home. Returning Bane to his handler so that he can continue to serve and protect the great people of Michigan. We're hopeful that you desire to learn more about Bane and ask that you consider passing this information along to friends. A reward fund has been established by Warren MacNeill of SPECVOC for information leading to the recovery of Bane.

These sites are maintained by Jamie & Joy Bullis and Warren MacNeill. Several friends are also helping behind the scenes, we do try our best to update the sites daily and pass along current information as we know there are many folks looking to hear any progress. Because this is being done on a volunteer basis, know there may be delays in posting information or replying to information.

Bane's Facebook Profile

The Find Bane Facebook Page

Donations may be mailed to:

Find Bane c/o Warren MacNeill

PO Box 284

Lincoln, MI 48742

Donations may be dropped off at any Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union Branch.

PayPal Donations may be sent to ""

Click Here

Downloadable Flyer:

Click Here

An important note from Jamie Bullis, Bane's Handler and MSP Trooper:

Due to the HUGE number of people visiting this page.......thanks to all........I am going to post this note to let the folks that join late know the scoop.

On 11/13/10 I was searching a tag alder swamp with Bane. We were searching for a missing dementia patient that had gone missing back in August. At around 2pm I gave Bane a rest. We went back to my patrol car, he got some water and about fifteen minutes to cool off.

At 2:15 we went back out searching. After about five minutes he was tangeled up in the tags. (I had him on a 20 ft tracking lead)

I dropped the lead to untangle him. About the time I got him free, a deer that had been bedded and was less than five yards from me jumped up and ran directly in front of Bane.

Bane gave chase. He was out of sight in about a second and I have not seen him since.

I am confident he is not caught up in the woods. The lead is made of nylon. He has eaten them in the past, just for fun. In addition, I had him on the 'dead ring' of the check chain. This means that it is not able to tighten around his neck and he can slip his head out of it. He has done this numerous times in the past so it is not a concern to me.

We have searched a huge area, including using some of our other canine teams, a departmental helicoptor (with thermal imaging) and two fixed wing aircraft.

We have handed out flyers in a thirty mile radius around where he was last seen.

We had two possible sightings of him on 11/15/10 approximately 8 miles south of where I lost him.

My home is approximately 65 miles south of where I lost him.

I am asking that if anyone responds to search the area, please stay in your cars until after the firearm deer season. It is simply to risky to be in the woods with all of the guns out there.

If you wish to drive the area to search for him, the roads between Atlanta, Hillman, Millersberg and Onaway are all within his reach. The state/public land south of 6 Mile Rd. in Presque Isle county is very large and there is a good chance he is out in there somewhere.

The news media has been great, but the more publicity we have, the better chance we have of getting him back.

Please report tips and sightings to:

989-354-4101 or 989-734-2204

Sally, 12, a police K9 that worked a search-and-rescue mission at Ground Zero in New York and is owned by Birch Run Police Officer Jason Wise, died Monday.

Sally, 12, a police K9 that worked a search-and-rescue mission at Ground Zero in New York and is owned by Birch Run Police Officer Jason Wise, died Monday.

K-9 Who Searched Ground Zero Dies

posted Nov. 25, 2010

Sally, a 12-year-old police canine owned by Birch Run Police Officer Jason Wise, died from complications caused by a suspected brain tumor Monday, her owner says.

Wise bought Sally, a police-trained black European Labrador retriever, in Canada for $10,000 when she was a pup.

He said she attained hero status after spending a week rummaging the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks. She located 11 victims.

The scent-savvy pooch worked for police departments in Breckenridge and St. Louis alongside Wise before they moved to Saginaw Township and took a job at the Birch Run Police Department about 10 years ago.

Upon return from the New York search-and-rescue operation, Sally was decommissioned and subsequently endured chronic health problems caused by inhaling toxic dust at Ground Zero, though she lived three years longer than doctors predicted based on exposure in New York that contaminated 65 percent of her lungs, Wise said.

She remained active, working with Wise when he gave speeches about their experience at the World Trade Center, attended public relations events for the police department and to train new K-9 dogs and their handlers.

But more than a working dog, she was a family member, Wise said, and will be missed greatly.



Let Boy Take Autism Service Dog to Class

posted Nov. 25 2010

The family of an autistic Florida boy is fighting the Collier County School District over whether he can bring a service dog to school.

The family of 6-year-old J.C. Bowen says the dog, a yellow retriever named Pepsi, helps the boy with issues related to his autism and seizures. The dog helps the child stay calm and knows what to do if he starts having a seizure. The family says the dog can catch J.C. if he starts to fall.

J.C.'s parents tried to get the dog added to his individualized education plan but says their request was denied.

An attorney for the district told the Naples Daily News he couldn't comment because the family and district are in the middle of a hearing that will resume next month.


Silhouette of soldier and military working dog from K9 Heroes: Together We Protect, Defend And Conquer As One by Nicole Arbelo.

Silhouette of soldier and military working dog from K9 Heroes: Together We Protect, Defend And Conquer As One by Nicole Arbelo.

Remembering K9s on Veterans Day

posted Nov. 25, 2010

Silhouette of soldier and military working dog from K9 Heroes: Together We Protect, Defend And Conquer As One by Nicole Arbelo.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, when we honor the service and sacrifice of military veterans, a tradition going back to Armistice Day, November 11, 1919. With our country involved in protracted wars on two fronts it is indeed a poignant day. Among the veterans we honor are military dogs, from sentries in Vietnam to explosives detection dogs in Iraq. Dogs have served in the U.S. military since World War I, but by 2010 there were nearly 3,000 in service, many of them deployed in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Like their handlers and their fellow soldiers, these K9s work hard, contribute much, and suffer injury, trauma and sometimes death.

I've been reading Nicole Arbelo's book K9 Heroes: Together We Protect, Defend And Conquer As One. For Arbelo, who teaches at a high school for the deaf and hard of hearing in the Bay Area, the book is obviously a labor of love. Her interest became a passion, when she was researching the role of dogs in the military and read about Sgt. Adam Cann, a K9 handler and trainer from her hometown, who had been killed by a suicide bomber while working security in Ramadi.

When she discovered his partner, a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd named Bruno, survived, she tracked down his new handler. Their story and his encouragement inspired her to "adopt" other handlers, send care packages, develop friendships, reach out and collect stories of war dogs and their handlers. These first-person reports-unvarnished, proud, patriotic, gritty and funny-provide a great introduction to this elite fraternity.

Buy K9 Heroes: Together We Protect, Defend, and Conquer as One



National Fun Flight Day a hit

posted Nov. 25, 2010

RAAF Base Amberley's 36 Squadron joined a national celebration for children struck down by serious illness at the weekend.

National FunFlight Day involves 16 airports across Australia and invited about 250 kids out to Amberley to experience the giant C17 Globemaster aircraft up close.

Yesterday they were given the chance to crawl in and over the monster transport planes as well as mix and mingle with the air force emergency fire crews and military police dogs.

If that wasn't enough, there was also a jumping castle, face painting and a barbecue.

Event founder of FunFlight Michel Verheem said FunFlight typified community with everyone pitching in and having a great day.

"It's about bringing everyone together, a celebration of doing something for others; but most of all, it's about the smiles on the face of the children," he said.

Nationally, more than 1600 passengers took to the skies as part of the day, which gives kids with life-changing illness or other adversities a day of what the defence force refers to as "aeronautic entertainment".

For more information about FunFlight go to their website.




Man Fired Over Euthanized War Hero Dog

posted Nov. 25, 2010

The Arizona animal-shelter employee who accidentally euthanized a hero dog from Afghanistan has been fired, officials in Pinal County said.

Target, the dog, was brought to the United States from Afghanistan, where she alerted Soldiers to a suicide bomber in February, CNN reported.

The dog went missing from the home of Army Sgt. Terry Young a week ago and was later picked up by Animal Care and Control. She was held over the weekend and euthanized Monday.

Animal Control fired the unnamed man who euthanized the dog following an investigation. His name wasn't released because of threats the shelter received, CNN said.

"We are continuing to look into management practices and procedures at Animal Care & Control to ensure that something like this cannot happen again," said Lisa Garcia, assistant county manager for Health & Human Services.

Target had a litter of puppies in Afghanistan; they have since been brought to the United States, and Target was featured by CNN for heroism.

"She got her name because the Afghans we lived with were constantly trying to off her. She's been shot in the leg. ... The Afghans actually ran over her," said Sgt. Christopher Duke, who helped care for Target in Afghanistan and has adopted her packmate Rufus.


Note: I don't often comment on stories but this one shows the reason all shelters should be "no kill." Having said that, I do not understand why this dog was not micro-chipped or tattooed. The military gives their humans dog tags. Why not it's dogs? This would not have happened if the humans responsible for her life had spent the money to protect it.


Retired Marine bomb-sniffing dog gets healing help from MSU

posted Nov. 25, 2010

Lex, a U.S. Marine Corps bomb-sniffing dog who lost his handler in Iraq, is getting help facing the challenges of aging with war injuries.

Lex was injured in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Fallujah that killed his handler, Cpl. Dustin Lee of Quitman. Lee's parents, Jerome and Rachel Lee, adopted Lex when he was granted retirement from duty.

Lex came to Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in late October. Dr. John Thomason, a CVM small animal internal medicine resident, is his attending physician.

"The main concerns were his reluctance to stand and his difficulty in standing," Thomason said. "He has also started to drag his hind limbs when he walks."

The college conducted a CT scan and a DNA test to evaluate for a specific genetic condition.

"The CT scan provides us the ability to evaluate his spinal cord and other neurologic structures that could be contributing to his condition," Thomason said.

Rachel Lee said the blast that killed her 20-year-old son on March 21, 2007, filled Lex's body with shrapnel, nearly severed his tail, and fragmented the rest of his body. The two had worked together since 2006.

"Dustin and Lex were out in front. They went ahead of the other troops, searching the roadsides and buildings for explosives. They made many, many hits," Rachel said.

Lex had been a military working dog for eight years and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was injured. After Dustin's death, Lex went to Camp LeJeune, N.C., to recover and then returned to the Marine base at Albany, Ga., where he had begun his career with Dustin.

Rachel said North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones heard of Dustin and Lex's story and spearheaded efforts for Lex to be granted retirement and adopted by his deceased handler's family.

"We adopted him Dec. 21, 2007, nine months to the day after we lost Dustin," Rachel said.

Lex received a commemorative Purple Heart in 2008 for the injuries he received while on duty. In 2008, he was named the American Kennel Club Law Enforcement Dog of the Year. Dustin's awards for his service include a Purple Heart, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor, and a Combat Action Ribbon.

After he came to live with the Lee family, Lex began a new career visiting veterans' homes to cheer the residents and visiting schools to teach the children what military working dogs do for their country.

"Lex carries on the spirit of Dustin," Rachel said. "Lex brings joy where there is sadness. He helps to show the importance of the relationship between a canine and his handler, how close that bond is, and the trust they have with each other as they work to keep others safe."

Lex's family is awaiting results of the tests performed on him at MSU, and the diagnosis will determine future treatments. In the meantime, Lex is headed to Washington, D.C., for specialized stem cell exchange surgery, an attempt to rejuvenate his bones.

He may return to MSU's veterinary college for physical therapy and rehabilitation using an underwater treadmill.

The family maintains a website about Lex and Dustin .


Jones Helps Retired War Dog Receive Critical Care

posted Nov. 24, 2010

This week U.S. Congressmen Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and Ed Whitfield (KY-01) helped a retired war dog receive treatment to end the pain from injuries he received in Iraq. Lex, a German shepherd, sustained injuries in March of 2007 when he and his handler were hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) in Fallujah, ending the life of Corporal Dustin Lee of Quitman, Mississippi, and sending pieces of shrapnel into Lex’s back. With the help of Rep. Whitfield and his wife Connie, Dr. Lee Morgan of Georgetown Veterinary Hospital was made aware of Lex’s condition and volunteered his services. Dr. Morgan is a leader in using adult stem cell therapy for treating animals in pain and Lex’s procedure proved to be a success.

“This dog is a true hero and a blessing to the Lee family,” said Jones. “I am more than happy to do anything I can to help and I am so appreciative of Connie Whitfield and Dr. Morgan, and all those who contributed to this wonderful cause. I have been honored to know this special family for the past few years. Dustin was a hero and would have wanted the best for his partner.”

Congressman Jones, with the help of Gen. Mike Regner, was able to have Lex honorably discharged in December of 2007 and placed with the Lee family. Lex was the first U.S. Marine veteran working dog to be discharged early and adopted by a family of a fallen Marine.

“Representing Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne has allowed me the opportunity to interact with many of the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom,” said Whitfield. “ I have also seen firsthand the positive impact that dogs can have in caring for veterans suffering from the physical wounds and psychological stresses of combat. It has given me great pleasure to be able to work with so many people and organizations who wish to honor the legacy of Corporal Lee, as well as so many other fallen heroes, by bringing this dog to its new home.”

Connie Whitfield, Senior Advisor for Presidential Initiatives for the Humane Society of America, has contributed much time and effort toward helping Lex and the Lee family. The Humane Society has overseen fundraising efforts for Lex, and has been accompanied by donations from individuals and other organizations, including: the German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Virginia, Shoreline German Shepherd Dog Club and the U.S. War Dogs Association.



US sniffer dog 'Khan' has its own passport

Posted November 2, 2010

Mumbai: The name's Khan, MWD Khan. Short and agile, he sauntered into Mumbai airport's international terminal around 12.15 pm on Tuesday. This was minutes after it had disembarked from a US Air Force Hercules C130 transport plane.

Just for the record, MWD Khan is a sniffer dog attached to the US commando unit assigned to protect US President Barack Obama during his Mumbai visit.The German Shepherd of Belgian lineage holds a US passport (set box), showing its name as MWD Khan. MWD is the acronym for 'Military Working Dog'.

"Khan strode out of the airport, accompanied by his trainer," said an eyewitness. "The dog and its trainer seemed inseparable as they walked through the green channel of the arrival terminal." They quickly disappeared into a private vehicle to a secret destination in south Mumbai.

"The dog had a metal tag around its neck with the name MWD Khan embossed on it," said a police source. "It had a leather guard strapped to its mouth, just to prevent the canine from attacking bystanders and passers-by." Sources said that the highly trained sniffer would spend the next few days close to where the US President will be housed. The dog enjoys all privileges that an army commando is entitled to.

The dog is trained to sniff deadly explosives generally used by terror groups like RDX, SEMTEX and C 4."Khan's job will be to sniff around for explosives in the hotel where the US President will put up," said a source. "The dog trainer is accompanied by experts from the (US) army's bomb disposal squad."

Meanwhile, around 40 scrappy commandos in civilian clothes, including three female commandos, also alighted from the C130 and were cleared after their travel documents were verified.

The air force C130 was also carrying a huge quantity of assorted weapons and ammunition required to protect the US President. "The quantity is huge. You can almost arm an army brigade with these weapons," said a source. The US government is not taking any chances in the wake of fresh intelligence inputs that operatives of the terror outfit, Al-Qaida, could strike during Obama's visit to India. Sources said a nation wide alert had been sounded. Intelligence reports indicate that the highly trained Al-Qaida operatives are capable of carrying out suicide attacks from the land and sea. The terror outfit has also managed to procure some deadly surface-to-surface missiles to carry out long-distance strikes.

The seafront around the Gateway of India has been sanitised between November 4 and 8. The airspace has been declared a no-fly zone to prevent any aerial attack. Police sources said that officials of the US Secret Services were already running a background check in all hotels across the city. Local sniffer dogs are being used to carry out the task, they said.


Update: You can't please everybody. Some people were upset by a dog being given a "Muslim" name. Understanding and acceptance is a two way street. Some people who have dogs love them more than anything else. They give names they love to their dogs. That said, we know that some people are looking for any excuse to take offense and cause a fight. There should have been a little more thought. They should have just named him Elvis.

Tinkerbell the peanut sniffing dog

Tinkerbell the peanut sniffing dog

Dog Helps Little Girl Stay Healthy

posted October 27, 2010

Elkhorn, NE - A little girl from Elkhorn is dealing with one of the most dangerous types of food allergies. Now, she's getting help from a special pooch that's specially trained to protect her from peanuts.

We've followed this little girl as she's struggled through a severe allergy and the family trying to raise the money to get this peanut detection dog. One week ago, Rebekah Kehr walked into her first grade class with a new friend and lots of confidence.

Rebekah has plenty to laugh about. Walking the halls of her elementary school, Rebekah, for the first time, is not afraid of what could hurt her. Tinkerbell is Rebekah's protector. The golden retriever is a working dog trained to sniff out peanuts. Her dog's vest is equipped with an emergency shot. In fact, the little girl is so allergic, only one percent of people in the world are like her. "If she was to get it on her hands and put it in her mouth, she could have a reaction and quit breathing in under two minutes," says Tonia Kehr.

Rebekah's mom, Tonia says an elementary school is extremely dangerous for her daughter. That's where Tinkerbell comes in. Each day, the dog checks for any trace of peanuts. When Tinkerbell sits, the area is not safe and needs to be wiped down.

We were there before Tinkerbell. Rebekah was very shy as she struggled through kindergarten forced to wear gloves, unable to eat lunch with the rest of the kids and living on medicine daily. Now, one week with Tinkerbell, the little girl plops down next to me and can't stop giggling. While she's not out of danger yet, we stop the interview so she can wash her arm, Rebekah Kehr certainly has come a long way. The smiling and now confident little six-year-old has Tinkerbell to thank.

The principal of Westridge School tells us the students understand Tinkerbell is a working dog and haven't gotten distracted by her. A dog like Tinkerbell is $7,500 dollars. Tonight, we can tell you, every penny was raised by people all over the metro.



Palm wasn't the first Guide Dog for the Blind to be trapped by SkyTrain

Posted October 15, 2010

Two weeks ago a horrific accident happened at the Lougheed SkyTrain station in Burnaby when Iris Thompson, who is blind, was separated from her guide dog Palm, a five-year-old yellow Labrador, who was trapped by her leash outside the SkyTrain then dragged along the moving vehicle until she hit a metal pole and fell onto the tracks suffering serious injuries. SkyTrain officials told the media this was the first incident of its kind in the 24-year history of SkyTrain. But it turns out that isn't quite correct.

Another service dog for the blind, named Arden, was separated from his owner Bruce Gilmour, and trapped outside a train at the Broadway SkyTrain station. Like Thompson Gilmour, who is blind, was left helplessly holding his dog's leash on the other side of the automatic sliding doors. Luckily for Arden, a Golden Retriever, fellow passengers responded to Gilmour's request for help and somehow managed to pry the doors open in time before the train took off saving Arden from a similar fate to Palm or worse.

"It was only because of members of the public my dog wasn't destroyed. It happened so fast. The dog walked in and stopped. I said hop up and it wouldn't go because it couldn't move anywhere. There were people on the train and the entrance was clogged with luggage. The door cycled closed and opened again then closed. He backed off on the platform and the leash is stuck in the doorway. The door didn't open again.

"I was in shock. Frightened, telling people I needed help and by this point the luggage was moved out of the way and somehow the doors were opened," he said.

Gilmour said he was so shaken about the incident, which happened in 2006, he contacted TransLink officials requesting they investigate the incident to ensure all that could be done was done so this would never happen to another passenger. A representative from the California-based Guide Dogs For the Blind, where Arden came from, flew up for a meeting with Gilmour and TransLink officials. The group visited the station, and went through a number of scenarios on what could happen to someone with a disability. Gilmour pointed out at that meeting they discovered the SkyTrain door sensors wouldn't open if a blind person's white cane was stuck in the door, for instance.

"One of our proposals was they increase the sensitivity of the door. I was concerned it was going to happen again," he said.

Now that Gilmour's fears that another guide dog would be injured on SkyTrain has happened, he questions how much has the technology been adapted for special interest commuter groups, such as people with disabilities? He also poses a very valid concern about what is happening "for improving awareness and improvements for safety of disabled passengers with a service dog" and whether an automated transit system fully respond to passengers with disabilities?

Gilmour, by the way, is a friend of Thompson who spoke with her earlier this week about her hope Palm will be able to return to an active guiding career.

"I sense her frustration right now for she does not have an 'advocate.' Guide Dogs for the Blind, Palm and my dog's school, are in touch with Iris about how she is feeling and how Palm is doing and looking ahead in terms of getting Iris back with a working dog - ideally, Palm. However, her accident is two weeks old this Thursday and as of this date, SkyTrain has not contacted her about determining the facts as much as they can be, about what happened (and) improving awareness and improvements for the safety of disabled passengers with a service dog,"he said.

My next post will be TransLink's response. An interview with the chair of the Access Users Transit Advisory Committee, Rob Sleath, who is blind himself and a dog guide user for the past 14 years.


Doggles for military working dog

Doggles for military working dog

Doggles for military working dog


Injured military dog returns to Maxwell Air Force Base

posted October 12, 2010

Blek, a military working dog, returned to Montgomery after suffering injuries in an explosion in Afghanistan last month.

A 7-year-old German Sheppard and military working dog named Blek, injured in an explosion last month in Afghanistan, returned to the 42nd Security Forces Squadron at the Maxwell Air Force Base, according to its website. He did it in style, too, getting a Montgomery Police Department escort from the airport to the base.

Now retired due to the injuries, Blek is now recovering well despite the loss of his hearing after suffering shrapnel damage to the left side of his mouth and other slight damage to the area just above his right eye.

Blek's handler, Staff Sgt. Brent Olson of the 42nd Security Forces Squadron, is receiving treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, for wounds he sustained in the same blast alongside the dog, according to the base website.

Sergeant Olson will fill out the paperwork to be placed on the list of those who would like to adopt Blek.


Bloom and Onyx

Bloom and Onyx

Man bites dog (a police dog) in West Haven

posted October 12, 2010

A man who approached a police cruiser claiming, “I need a bag of dust,” struck an officer and bit a police canine early this morning, police said.

Officer Scott Bloom was on patrol with canine Onyx at 2:35 a.m. near 72 Elm St. when he spotted male walking with his pants falling down, police said. The male then removed his jacket and walked off the sidewalk toward the cruiser. Bloom rocognized the man from previous contact as Roderick Lewis, police said.

Lewis yelled to Bloom, “I need a bag of dust,” according to police. Bloom asked Lewis to repeat what he said and Lewis again allegedly said “I need a bag of dust.” Bloom recognized the street slang as meaning angel dust or PCP, police said.

Lewis then reached into his waistband while standing close to Bloom and Bloom immediately grabbed Lewis’s arms and ordered him to not reach for anything, police said. Lewis allegedly said, “you’re not stronger than me” and struck Bloom in his face with a closed fist. Bloom and Onyx then got into a physical altercation with Lewis, who continued to fight even though Onyx had Lewis’s right leg in his mouth, police said. Bloom said he heard Onyx yelp at one point during the altercation and saw Lewis biting Onyx on his right side. Bloom ordered Lewis to stop biting Onyx , but he allegedly refused to let go. Bloom reengaged Lewis with defensive maneuvers and Lewis eventually stopped biting Onyx, police said. Several officers arrived and assisted Bloom in handcuffing Lewis.

Lewis was taken to Milford Hospital for injuries sustained in the altercation and possible drug use, police said.

Lewis, 23, of 103 Elm St., was charged with assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct and cruelty to animals. Lewis is being arraigned at Milford Court today.

Bloom and Onyx were treated for their injuries and released.


The 5-year-old labrador had a shattered nose, cracked ribs, and a punctured lung after being dragged by a moving SkyTrain

The 5-year-old labrador had a shattered nose, cracked ribs, and a punctured lung after being dragged by a moving SkyTrain

Guide dog dragged along with SkyTrain

Dog's leash caught in SkyTrain doors at Lougheed Town Centre station

A guide dog named Palm is expected to make a full recovery after she had her leash caught in a SkyTrain door at Lougheed Town Centre station on Thursday and was dragged the length of the station platform before being slammed into a metal pole.

Horrified witnesses were helpless to intervene as the dog - owned by Iris Thompson, who is blind - was forced to run alongside the departing train when safety sensors failed to prompt the doors to reopen.

A second train reportedly went past the injured dog, who by then was cowering at the side of the track beyond the station, before an unknown man jumped down to rescue the animal, which triggered an alarm causing trains to stop running.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said the problem was the dog fell onto an area beyond the station that doesn't automatically trigger the sensor alarm.

"We don't anticipate anything beyond the end of the platform," said Hardie on Monday. "There's a pole at the end of the platform, and, under ordinary circumstances, things don't go into that pole. There was no reason to have sensors on that part of the platform."

He said the reason the doors failed to open despite the dog's leash being between them was likely due to its flimsiness.

"It might have been the dynamics of the leash being thin and lightweight," he said.

The five-year-old yellow Labrador suffered a punctured lung, a broken nose and cracked ribs in the accident, while Thompson is facing thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Hardie wouldn't say if TransLink would pay for Palm's treatment, but the transit authority has assigned an insurance adjudicator and is in discussions with the dog's owner.

Hardie added that this is the first incident of its kind in the SkyTrain's 25 years of operation.



Missing Service Dog

Richard Riddle, 56, says it's hard to look at pictures of Daisy. "Most of it's not knowing," he said. "I don't know if she's alive, I don't know if she's dead."

Daisy, a 4-year-old Boston terrier, disappeared a few days ago. Riddle said Daisy got out of the house in his Palma Sola Trace neighborhood in northwest Bradenton and never returned. After her disappearance, he says he's not only concerned about his dog, but also about himself.

"She let me know 'Hey, you've got a problem' and she'd jump on me and just start licking my face," Riddle said. Riddle developed seizures after serving in the Navy during Vietnam. Daisy is trained to recognize the symptoms before the seizures start, which is why Riddle says it's so important that he finds her. He's asking everyone to help him out, including his neighbor Michael Manassa.

"Just everywhere I go, I'm constantly keeping an eye out for her," Manassa said. He says he's been looking for Daisy as he drives to and from work on his scooter.Riddle is hanging up fliers around town hoping someone will recognize Daisy. He also checks the local shelters daily.

Daisy is micro-chipped, so if she's found, Riddle says it will be easy to get in touch with him. However, Riddle says as every day passes he fears the worst. "I would rather know that someone has got her than know she might be dead," he said. "It's not a case of no news is good news, it's a case of no news is a killer." Now, he's just hoping someone will find Daisy and bring her home. A reward is being offered for anyone who finds Daisy. She is a 16-pound, 4-year-old Boston terrier.

Contact Richard Riddle if you've seen Daisy: (407) 625-3161

Last seen near 75th Street West at Cortez

Daisy was wearing a chain collar with pink and a blue dog tag with Kissimmee address

Ceremony for Military Working Dog Kevin

Ceremony for Military Working Dog Kevin

Ceremony for Military Working Dog Kevin



Extreme Makeover Home Edition Gives Family A Service Dog

Posted May 9, 2010

“Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition” chose Wilderwood Service Dogs to provide service dog for their latest home makeover family. The family that is receiving a home makeover has a child with Prader-Willi Syndrome and had indicated that one of their greatest wishes was to get a service dog for their child, so Extreme Home Makeover started looking for help. Wilderwood has a distinct reputation for being an expert in providing service dogs for all neurological disorders, but we’ve become known for our work with children on the autism spectrum. Although Prader-Willi is not on the autism spectrum, Ethan experiences many issues that can be helped through the use of a service dog.

Ethan has anxiety issues and picks his skin obsessively until it bleeds. Cotton is being taught to use his paw to interrupt this action every time Ethan begins picking. Ethan soon will eliminate this behavior all together. Ethan also quits breathing during the night. Even though the family has medical equipment to alert them when Ethan quits breathing, Cotton will be a great backup and will allow Ethan to spend the night at a friend’s house and/or grandparents without having to cart all the medical equipment with him. Ethan also has some muscular issues that affect his walking and standing ability. Cotton has been taught that if Ethan begins to fall to lean into Ethan and roll Ethan over top of himself to prevent Ethan from injuring himself when he falls.