Monday, August 29, 2011

The Big Test

Today was a lot of fun because I got to play on lots of new rubble. Angie let me search one pile all by myself…well at least until I barked a bunch of times and then she came up to give me a toy to tug. Then she stayed right there and sent me to search more. And when I smelled somebody else she came right to me, and more tug. She put some pink string where I was barking. After the second time, I knew just where I needed to go, all the way to the back of the rubble. She gave me a hand sign, and I followed her directions…but I would have gone all the way back there on my own. And I smelled somebody else and barked right there. These people did a good job of hiding; I could not see any of them, just knew with my nose they were under there. I checked the rest of the pile, and came back to Angie, looked at her and barked. That’s how I tell her there is nobody else to find.

Then we both went to another pile that had wood, rubble, a car and a soft chair. Are you kidding me? A car on a rubble pile? I could not believe my eyes, but yes, there it was. We searched together; Angie was mostly watching me because she knows I don’t like her being right on top of me while I work. I smelled somebody under the car and I was ready to crawl under it because it was just so cool, but barking not crawling is what gets the tug toy – so barking is what I did. We also checked out the edges of the pile, near the ground. I’m thinking to myself, no way, but then there is a breeze, and I get a nose full of scent. And I am off to locate that, bark and get my toy.

When we are all done, Angie puts me in a crate. I didn’t even get to play that long, but she said we were all done. I heard other dogs barking on the piles, which makes me want to get up there again. So here is the weirdest part of the day. I am standing in my crate, hoping to get out and play on that last pile one more time, maybe check out the car more carefully, when Angie opens my crate and lets me out. She’s hugging my neck and giving me treats that smell like cinnamon, and other people are all around us rubbing my fur, and I hear words that are new to me. “Congratulations, Sammie, you passed your test!” What the heck? Then we go sit on the pile, and somebody takes our picture. I probably looked goofy because I didn’t want to sit still, I wanted to go back to where the car in the rubble was. Angie cannot stop talking to me, telling me what a good FEMA dog I am – she even kissed my head! What is the big deal? It was just another day of doing what I like best, searching, finding scent, and playing tug. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Most fun ever

This was the beginning of the most fun ever, for a lot of reasons. I travelled to many places, met other dogs who would be my friends, and played with toys all the time. Whenever Angie wore those clothes--the dark pants with all the pockets and the big shoes, that meant we were off together to “training.” My favorite place for training was Disaster City, and we also went to a place where there were big red trucks, the smell of smoke in a tall building, and at times the trucks made loud noises and their lights were bright. I went there more than I went to Disaster City, and my best friends were there, too.  We all worked together to learn how to find people; bark very loud and long; climb ladders and run through tunnels; follow directions; and also to take turns. I still don’t like that part, because I do not like to wait. I always want it to be my turn. It should always be time for me to do something.

So let me tell you about my dog friends. My best friend is a German Shepherd who has giant ears that stick up on her head. Her name is Sasha and she always bosses me around. I just let her, because she also lets me share her crate if I am cold, and because I like her.  My other friend is a Golden Retriever named Sprinkles who gets excited just like me. Sprinkles runs very fast, even faster than me. Sasha is more serious.  Sprinkles and I are wild and crazy dogs, and Sasha is not that way. We get to be together a lot. Sometimes we share toys, treats, and when it is hot, we get to splash around in a little pool that is filled with cool water.

It’s hard to remember everything that I learned, but I’ll tell you about some of it. My favorite part from the beginning was what is called “searching.” Angie would say, “Go find!” and that meant that somebody might be hiding with my toy. There might be more than one person…so there could be more toys. And that meant more playing the tug game with me. I learned to bark, not just normal barking but only barking when I found the person who was hiding from me. Here is how it sounds, “Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark…” and loud, not soft.  Because this is the way I tell Angie that I did my job--I know the person is right here. No matter how tough it is, like there might be wood or concrete in the way--lots of it--I can smell and I don’t even need to use my eyes. Really, I like to be left alone to use my nose to check everything out, but sometimes that can be a bad idea…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Having fun at Disaster City

Disaster City® was about to become my favorite place, a place I wanted to go all the time.  I didn’t know it then, but this first visit was kind of a test to see if I would be able to go back there to have fun.  Get this!! We walked right up to one of those giant piles, and remember that big yellow toy that Kip had when we were at the shelter, and we played together?  This lady, also dressed like Angie, took it and threw it way up on the pile.

Angie was holding on to me and wouldn’t let me go.  Are you kidding me?  I haven’t seen that toy in like forever, and I couldn’t wait to go get it.  Let me go!  I know I was acting weird, because my teeth were chattering and my body was shaking.  I think I barked.  When Angie released me, I ran to get the toy.

Whoa, this was not like running on grass.  Stuff moved around, the hard concrete was hot, and I couldn’t see where the toy was.  Where is it? I want it! It was in a hole between 2 big rocks and I had to lay on my belly to reach it.  The second it was in my mouth, I squeezed it and it made that sound…awesome!  Then we did it again, only the next time, after the lady threw the toy, Angie hid my eyes and waited even longer to release me. 

Now I know what that toy smells like, and I am going to find it even quicker.  All I want is that toy, no matter how hard it is to get it.  Bring it on, throw it again, the Samster will find it.  Other people came to watch me.

There was some other stuff, like showing me a room that looked like it was night time and there were some loud noises and I walked on some stuff that felt strange to my paws.  So that was no big deal.  And there was another dog who walked close to me while I was staying still, and that was fine, because I could tell that dog was not a problem for me. 

After we were all done, I went back in my kennel while Angie and the other people talked.  When she came back, she opened my kennel door, put her head close to mine, and whispered in my ear, “I am so proud of you, Sammie.  You are on your way to becoming a Texas Task Force 1 Disaster Search Dog!”