Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Introduction:

Hello and welcome back to our Search Dog Blog!

Matt & Zapp on a Boat, Episode 1 - MSY.pngThings are going to be looking a bit different around here, and we would like your input on the stories and adventures you would like to learn about here. My name is Matt and my battle buddy is Zapp. Together, we make up a Wilderness Search and Rescue team as well as an Urban Search and Rescue team.

We’ve had many adventures over the years, and we would enjoy sharing some of our stories and the people we have met along the way with you. So send any questions our way.

For our first entry I would like to simply explain who we are and how Zapp and I became a team. Zapp is a four and a half year old Labrador Mix Breed that was found in a local animal shelter. At the time, he was about 9 months old (judging from his teeth) and had no known ownership history. Zapp had been in the shelter for a few months with no interest from potential families because of his high energy.

Zapp Profile, Episode 1 - MSY.pngFortunately, the employees at the shelter were familiar with the characteristics of search dogs and reached out to our wilderness search and rescue team about screening him as a potential candidate for the job. I ran Zapp, then known as “Picasso,” through the screening, and he passed with a score of 100%.

The screening is designed to test a dog’s likelihood to pass a national/international standard field trial in search and rescue. It tests hunt drive, nerve strength and general amiability. We will explore these abilities in later stories.
The ability to confidently climb a 45° is a
requirement for any
qualified urban disaster search canine.


I signed his paperwork at the animal shelter, and he became my $35 search and rescue candidate. We began our training the following day, and we were a certified and deployable wilderness search and rescue team within 9 months, and then one year later we were an urban team as well.

There are tons of stories that we have from adoption to certification, and tons more from there to deployment. And we are just one very small part of any search and rescue operation. We are hoping that you will join us on this journey, and we hope that you can learn all about the world of search and rescue alongside Zapp and I as our careers continue.

🐾 Matt & Zapp

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Not Always About Me

Angie and I went to the warehouse where all of the stuff is kept for Texas Task Force 1, including kennels for the dogs.  That was fine since I thought it would just be a few minutes until we were training at Disaster City.  But no….when she let me out, we walked with everybody on our team, and other dogs, for 2 miles.  Angie carried a heavy pack, and I was bored.  Walking is just not that much fun.

When we returned, I went back in the kennel, and Angie left.  She didn’t come back until many hours later, and it was dark.  Turns out she was at a class called Wide Area Search, which helps her be better at her job.  That is training for her, but not for me.  When she came back, she fed me, took me outside for a short walk, and then lights out.

The next day was the same, but not as long.  And then we went home.  Sometimes I must wait, and remember that it is not always my turn.  Angie needs training too, and it is important for her.  I get to train all the time, and so I should not be upset that sometimes it is her turn. I have a feeling that I will get my turn again very soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Crowd of Boy Scouts

Angie and I are not worried about giving presentations.  We have visited schools, camps, Vacation Bible Schools, and even events where people sit at tables eating lunch.  But we went to a Boy Scout camp last week, and there were 300 kids.  That is the most ever!  And there was loud music, and they were making so much noise that even with a microphone, Angie had a hard time getting them to listen.  And they were sitting on the bleachers in a big auditorium, and eating lunch.  And…well, you probably get the picture.

Usually at these events, somebody hides, and I find that person.  But there were too many people this time. Angie was worried that they wouldn’t be able to see and would just take off, trying to watch me.  So I demonstrated my obedience and some agility.  It was not that much fun for me, but all of the Scouts seemed to like it. 

And here was the toughest part.  Since it was the last day of camp, each boy had a balloon to pop.  The person in charge told us that they would wait until we left the building, but that is not what happened.  Imagine the sound of 300 balloons going “pop, pop, pop!”  It was so loud, and I was so happy to load up in the quiet car and head home.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My New Home

No, I didn’t go live with a different family, or run away, or anything like that.  But for one week, Sprinkles’ family went away, and Angie and I stayed at their house.  That is because there are 3 dogs who live there, and 2 of them are kind of old and take medicine.  It was easier to go there than for all of those dogs to come to our house.

Remember that I am the only dog at my house, so it was a big change to be with 3 other dogs.  We all stayed in our kennels at night, and if Angie was gone.  If she was home, then sometimes Sprinkles and I would play in the backyard.  Maybe because Sprinkles lived there and I didn’t, she felt like she could be the boss of me.  She would not share her toy, and would tease me with it. 

I like being the only dog.  When we came back home, I was tired.  It felt quiet, calm, and like the best place to be.  It was nice of Angie to take care of those 3 dogs, but even better when it was all done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Be Prepared

This is the time of year when weather can get bad, like hurricanes that can come with lots of rain and wind, even flooding and destroying houses.  Angie and Kip are always ready, and have extra food, bottled water, flashlights, and lots of other stuff for our family.  And I know there is always at least a half tank of gas in the car (that is why we stop for gas after every trip to Disaster City).

I am part of our family, and to everybody reading this, if you have dogs or cats (yes, Oscar is also part of the family), even birds, remember that what is best for humans is also best for us.  The most important thing I can say to you is “Do not leave us behind.”  If you evacuate, do not think that we will be OK without you.  If you go, we go. Find out what shelters and hotels allow pets, because not all of them do.  If you decide to travel to a safe place out of town, like a friend’s house, be sure that pets are welcome.  The time to do this is BEFORE anything happens, like right now. Plan ahead.

Put together an emergency kit just for us.  We need food, water, leashes, toys, bowls, our medicine, first aid supplies, and for cats, a litter box.  You know I don’t need that, but Oscar does.  Be sure to have ziplock bags so that our food stays dry…and towels that are throw away. If you have enough food for 10 days, then that should be enough.  Keep copies of our veterinary records, especially our vaccinations and please make sure we are wearing identification tags with our name and phone number. Some of us have microchips under our skin, but it might be a while before we get to a vet if we are lost.

Do not put a cat in a crate with a dog, or put a dog in a crate with another dog, or 2 cats in the same cat carrier. Even though we may all be great friends, when the weather changes, or our humans get upset, we might act differently than normal.  Have a separate kennel for each of us.  That way we will be safe and comfortable. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Story with a Happy Ending

This story started with me, but it did not end with me.  It did end with another dog, and that is the happy ending.  Here is what happened.  Angie works with children, and sometimes, I get to go with her.  When I hurt my paw, and there was a bandage on it, she took me with her to meet a girl and her family.  The girl cannot see; she is blind, and she also uses a wheelchair to get around.  Sometimes she is on the floor, and she can scoot around.

Since she cannot use her eyes, she uses her hands to find out what is going on.  Well, she uses her ears, too, but with me, she put her hands first on my face, then my body, and she could also feel where the bandage was on my leg.  She smelled my fur, and her parents told Angie that she loved dogs.  They were thinking about getting a dog, but didn’t know what kind of dog would be best.  The little girl asked if she could keep me, or at least baby-sit me, and Angie told her, “no,” but in a nice way.

Here is the happy part.  Angie called a friend of hers who raises Golden Retrievers (like Sprinkles), and asked if she knew of any dogs who could be a pet to live with this girl and her parents.  The dog’s job would be to cuddle, play, be sweet, and have good manners.  Not a job for me, but maybe for another dog.  And it turned out, there is a dog named Jet who is perfect for this.  The family went to meet Jet, and the next day, Jet came to live with them.  I like to think that I was part of this story. There are all kinds of jobs for dogs, and I helped this dog find his.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Playing Vet

I am so tired because a 4-year-old little girl has been at our house for 2 days.  She is like a puppy because she always wants to play, or do something with me.  It has been very tough because I haven’t been able to rest or just hang out by myself.  And her favorite game to play is “Vet” and that means she is like Dr. Zoran and I am the dog who is in her office.

All of this is pretend, not real….and that is good because here are some of my pretend injuries.  I have been bitten by a snake, broke my leg, hit by a piece of wood, and had many splinters.  She has used an X-ray machine on me, put me to sleep at least 10 times, sprinkled magic dust on me, and given me stitches and shots.  She has also whispered in my ear, kissed me, and hugged me.  Oscar the cat is nowhere to be found, so for once, he is being smart.

And this little girl left her crayons on the floor, as well as a stuffed animal she calls “Floppy Bunny.”  I know I should not have done this, but I took the Bunny and shook him in my mouth.  I could have done more, but I didn’t.  I did eat 2 crayons but Angie caught me before I could swallow them all the way.  They didn’t even taste good.  I would rather be tired from training than from all of this pretending.  Sometimes it is just tough being me!