In Training

sophie searach and rescue

I have been in training for two years now, with Alpha Search and Rescue. BTW, I am the one not drooling on the left.  “Elle” wanted me to work HR (human remains), but I enjoy the chase too much, so I am a Trailing Dog, and I love it!  This discipline consists of ‘scenting’ a missing person’s article and following, or tracking their scent to find them. There is always a reward at the end if I am successful. I prefer the tasty treat rather than a toy. This game is sort of like Hide and Seek. ‘Yeah, I’ve been searchin’ A-a searchin’ Oh, yeah, searchin’ every which a-way.’ When we  are fully certified, (both of us have to be) we will be able to volunteer for real searches when called out by the police. It is not play time, it is time to work, and I am expected to know the difference…’blah, blah, blah…’ The HR dogs, the Area dogs, and my group-the Trailing Dogs enjoy every minute of the job.

At times we join with another volunteer group, Faithful Friends, to visit nursing homes, hospitals, and teen facilities.  Dogs, as well as cats, gerbils, birds, and even horses (small ones of course), along with their persons join this therapy group. If you bring your gerbil, just don’t name it , ‘Cookie,’ because we dogs think of it as a treat.  When visiting the nursing homes, we travel in pairs and encourage residents to pet, stroke and cuddle us.  I can’t imagine being left behind while my person goes away to live in another home.  I know Elle would miss me terribly.  Sometimes, the people talk to us and sometimes they just  quietly scratch our ears. ‘ Lean on me, when you’re not strong. And I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.’ I am happy to bring a moment of joy to these lovely people who have such interesting stories to share.

                                            Alpha Search and Recovery

Havok getting ready to search.
Havok getting ready to search.

is a Search and Rescue team  serving the greater Houston and surrounding areas in the search for missing persons.  The team is comprised of all volunteers and their dogs. Kristin and Nick began this group in the Clear Lake area.  They organize and train all the volunteers twice a week on Saturdays and Tuesdays.  Anyone interested in joining would need to have their dogs evaluated, attend training, and eventually pass the tests.

Sophie gives them  for being so caring and devoted to helping others.

Wazoo Survival Gear

The official Wazoo vehicle.
The official Wazoo vehicle (above) and gear (below).

Nick, who helps lead the Alpha Search group, takes his interest in survival techniques a step further.  He owns and operates Wazoo Survival Gear which began as a hobby with a goal to save lives.  The products are hand-made and consist of belts, dog collars (of course), key chains, bracelets, and more.  All sorts of survival gear, like fishing hooks and wire, fire starters, etc. are hidden in the weaving of the bracelets and dog collars.  Very cool!  You can even have your dog’s name engraved on the collars.   Check out the website…lots of neat gear.

Sophie gives them  for combining art, innovation, and helpful tools all wrapped (or weaved) into one.

Faithful Friends

faithful friends picture newspaper

The Ministry has more than 300 volunteers

Faithful Friends offers positive encounters with companion animals with the hope of benefiting people both physically and emotionally. Shari Ferguson had heard about animal-assisted therapy at a  dog show and started this Clear Lake, Texas group supported by University Baptist Church .  With the Canine Good Citizen certification in hand, senior citizen facilities were contacted and visits were offered.  Now monthly calendar visits include senior centers, teen-help facilities, and children’s development centers.

Sophie gives them  for helping others to feel better and not miss there pets so much.

Sophie is in a generous mood.


My First Trip Home

lisa 1670Bad dogs have more fun, so they say.

free dog clipartNot true-I will argue that point. You see, I was a good dog, a quiet dog, a shy dog, sitting in the back of my 20′ x 4′ cage at the BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions, where I had been sitting for the past four months. I would often hum to myself, ‘We gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do.’  I did not bark at the other dogs, nor run forward to greet each perspective owner. I kept to myself waiting for something…then it happened…my new person, ‘Elle,’ came to take me home. She took me outside to play with toys and other dogs while she watched.  I heard my price had dropped over the many months I had been waiting.  ‘Elle’ and her son took me home that day. I  am told I am a mixed breed, possibly between a German Shepherd and a Catahoula. I know…I did not know what that was either.  The Catahoula part explains why I enjoy knocking down large objects, including people, and jumping through the air like a gazelle. I am fast and have a difficult time controlling my urge to chase small animals. Why was I chosen out of all the other hopeful ones, because ‘Elle’ was looking for  a new partner, not a replacement. A partner to take on trips (her favorite past-time9), to train and volunteer for Search and Rescue, (her dream),  to exercise  with, to love, and to spoil. I am Sophie, I am a good dog, I am having a great life, and these will be my tales.

BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions is located at 3300 Carr St., Houston, Texas

What an amazing shelter.  It is huge with so many pets needing homes. From the moment you arrive, there are many volunteers ready to help (some have been volunteering for 20 years). You may walk and play with as many pets as you chose, and while doing so, are fed water and snacks. You know BARC wants the best homes for these pets, as there are several forms to compete and sign, along with showing proper identification.  You leave the center with your new “tail-wagging” friend, who will have all shots, microchip implant, and spay or neuter service.  You will also be given a bag full of goodies including, information for a new pet owner, a Frisbee, treats, and doggie bags. We love this shelter because they try their best to save the pets and find them homes.  They have a very high save rate. We love them because they care.

Sophie gives them