Monday, December 10, 2012

The Best Presents are Not Always Those with 4 Legs

Angie and I were at the park today, when this lady came up to us.  She had 2 little girls with her, and she was excited to see us.  She said to the girls, “This is the lady I told you about, and this is her beautiful dog, Sammie.”  Then she told the girls to go play on the swings.

The lady then tells us that she is thinking about getting her girls a puppy for Christmas, and that she is considering a whippet or a Greyhound.  Angie asked her why she was thinking about those kinds of dogs, and the lady (her name is Carrie) said, “I think they are so cute!” 

Now that is not a reason to get a dog, not at all, even I know that. Then Angie told her that these dogs must always be on a leash, or in a fenced-in area, because they run far and fast when they see something they like, and it is hard to get them back.

Carrie said that her daughters would feed the puppy, take it on walks, and that while they were at school, she would just leave it in the backyard.  This was her plan because she worked all day.  Not a good idea!  Puppies cannot be left alone all day outside, and you cannot count on young kids to be that responsible.

Photo Courtesy of _tar0_
Then Carrie asked Angie about me, and how did I get to be so obedient.  Angie explained to her that it took lots of time, and that we work on it almost every day.  She likes to say, “Sammie did not just come to me like this.”  I saw that Carrie was not happy with what Angie had to say.

Remember, if you are reading this, that it is never a good idea to give anybody a dog, cat, puppy or kitten as a present, especially if the person is not expecting this.  It might seem like a great surprise, but it could be a big mistake! 

Not everybody is ready for what is involved, and there are so many Christmas pets that end up in shelters because they were given to people who did not really know how to care for them.  I still do not know how I ended up in a shelter…maybe I was one of those Christmas puppies.  But I was one of the lucky ones because Angie rescued me. 

If you want to do something for animals, make a donation to the animal shelter in your area.  You can tell them it was my idea! 

NOTE from Veterinary Emergency Team - Texas A&M University: Choosing a pet is a very personal decision. If you are thinking of giving a pet for a gift, STOP, and consider a gift certificate or card from your local animal shelter. That way the receiver is able to pick out the best pet that fits their home when they're ready for the responsibility!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Babies Visit Me

Yesterday, Angie opened the door to our house, and there stood a friend of hers with 2 babies, a boy named Sammie (yes, it can be a boy’s name, not just a girl’s name like mine) and a girl named Vivienne.  They were like wild puppies, going up and down the stairs, knocking stuff off the tables, and making sounds that I could not understand.

I tried to stay out of their way, but they kept coming close to me.  They did not hurt me, but they did put their hands on my head, pulled my ears and tail, and the little girl kissed me on the face.  Yuck!  The boy, Sammie, you are not going to believe this, but it is true….he picked up some of my dog food out of my bowl, and he put it IN HIS MOUTH!  His mom tried to get it out ,but it was too late…he ate my dog food.  She said that he has a dog at home, and sometimes he does that.  It is bad enough that I have Oscar the cat to worry about; I am just glad that there are no babies who live with me because they might eat my food.

After a long time, I was getting tired of Sammie and Vivienne.  I had enough of them.  Sammie wanted to take me for a walk, and I let him (even though he is so small he can barely walk a straight line, and could not hold onto the leash).  When we came back inside, Vivienne was eating a cookie, and she held it right up to my face.  I know I should not have done this, but I took a small bite of it, not the whole cookie, just a little piece, and I was very soft with my mouth.  I don’t think anybody saw me do it, and Vivienne cannot tell on me because she is too young to talk. 

After they all left, I was ready for a nap and some quiet time.  Give me a rubble pile, and I will go all day.  But having to share my house with 2 babies just makes me very tired.  I hope that they do not come back until they grow up, and are no longer puppies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saddle Up!

Loading the bus
We were all checked out and ready to go on the deployment, and then about 05:30 in the morning we heard: “Saddle up… saddle up”! It’s so exciting! We’re going to get to ride a horse! Angie gets me and we walk outside to… a bus? Well, that’s cool, too, but I was expecting to go on a horse. Why’d they say, “Saddle up?” I have a special mat that Angie lays down for me to sleep on the bus. We were told by the bosses to get some sleep. We were going to Alexandria, Louisiana. We had a big meeting hall at Fort Polk, just outside of the city where we were going to eat and sleep until we got called forward. I heard some of the guys talking and it seems we were going to do search and rescue operations for a Hurricane named “Isaac.” I wonder if mom doesn’t tell me because she thinks I’ll worry. I love finding people that are lost, so a big storm would be the last thing I would worry about… But I know she is just looking out for me.

Boy, did we sleep! Even though we were on a bus, I slept like a puppy! When we got to Fort Polk, everyone immediately got to work. We had crates set up in a special place away from the main group, which was fine. I love all my teammates, but to tell the truth, a lot of them snore, and I wake up sometimes thinking there is a bear in the room. All of our handlers and the rest of the search team set up cots near us.

Each day we waited for a mission. We watched the local teams respond to one rescue after another. My teammates were really proud of what the people of Louisiana were doing for themselves. They did GREAT!

We were put on “Ready/30” status. Ready/30 means that if we get a call for a task, we have 30 minutes to be on the bus and out the door. We got a call the second or third day, with a possible mission. It was so cool!  Ian’s handler took all of us out of the crate and asked us to lie down. We were excited, but we could see just how serious all of teammates were, so we did perfect down stays. While they broke down our crates and loaded all their gear, there was a time when nobody was in the room except the four of us… four dogs laying in a perfect row. My dog-mates tried to talk me into going to check and make sure we had not been forgotten, but I knew when I was asked to stay, I was supposed to stay. It seemed like forever, but then one-by-one, each of our handlers came back, put our leashes on, and we raced to the bus. Finally, we were going to get to help someone! We no sooner got on the bus, than we were given the order to stand down. The State of Louisiana had taken the mission. I was disappointed at first, but mom reminded me, “It’s not what we do… but what we are ready and willing to do.” Besides, it was another example of just how great a job the state rescue people were doing.

One of the best things in Louisiana was getting to help teach a class… yes, ME! We had to train a little every day. It was good to see that humans have to practice, too. Wookie’s mom, Angie & I got to teach the Task Force members stuff to help them rescue dogs and cats. That is actually part of the humans’ job when they are deployed. I was happy to help. Wookie’s mom showed everyone how to put a muzzle on a dog so that, if injured, it wouldn’t bite. I’d never bite on purpose, but if I was scared... well, it’s kind of like when people are upset and sometimes say stuff they don’t mean. We don’t talk in a way that people easily understand, so we sometimes bite, instead. Angie taught everyone about K9 body language and how you can often read what we are saying, even if we can’t use human words. I role-played the victim dog, so they could put the muzzle on me and show how to safely approach me, had I really been injured. My performance was stellar! 

The next day we got orders, but not the kind I expected. We were being demobilized. That means they were sending us home. No search and rescue task this time, but that’s OK… I was ready and willing to do whatever they asked! From what I learned, that was my job!!! 

See you on the pile!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A hurricane means we go to work!

Well, I knew something was up, and soon I found out what it was – we were going on a deployment!  Angie was on the phone, and the only thing I heard her say was “01:30.” She hung up and looked at me and said, “You ready to go to work?” 

She’d just told our Task Force that we’d be there at 1:30 in the morning. We were going somewhere to help somebody that was in trouble. I went into the bedroom with Angie. When she puts her uniform on, I always get excited. It’s different, though when she is on a real mission. She is serious, so I get serious.  (I tried to anyway…I’m not very good at getting serious.) She got dressed QUICK! Another thing that is different when we go on a real mission is that Kip and Chris meet us at the door when we leave. They always hug me and tell me to “be careful.” Chris tells me he loves me. Kip tells me, “Take care of your mom.” He tells Angie he loves her, but he always tells me first. It makes me feel really good.

Well, we take off to College Station, which is where Texas Task Force 1 is based. It takes us over two hours to get there. I usually sleep on the way, but I was too excited. Angie kept telling me to “relax,” “chill out,” “calm down,” “settle”… all that stuff, but I was just too excited. Every now and then, I’d whine a little. I couldn’t help myself! We finally got there at about 01:15 a.m. and I wasn’t tired a bit.  

We went into the hangar, which is a really big place. There is more stuff there than you could imagine! They have boats to rescue people in water, and some of the boats are made for going in water that moves really fast, like in a flood. They have huge 18-wheel trucks that take massive stacks of stuff like tents and cots for us to build a place to stay in when we get there. These trucks also carry saws, and drills, and other equipment for our rescue guys to use to save people when I find them. They also carry medical stuff for our team doctors, to take care of us if we get injured or the victims that we rescue. All the guys and gals on the Task Force say hello to me when we walk in. They say hello to Angie too, but they say hello to me first which makes me feel really good.

We have a special area just for the dogs, so we can rest and be ready work when the time comes. Angie has other stuff to do, meetings, and medical checks, and stuff, so she takes off and I just hang out in the crate. I’m the first dog there! Not long after, though, one of my buds arrives.  Ian is a Black Lab, like me.  He is cool!  His mom also has stuff to do, so she drops him off in the crate next to me and heads out. We make small bark, and then Mandy, a Yellow Lab, comes in. Yea!

When we go out the door on a real mission, we usually have four dogs. So, we were trying to guess who the fourth dog was, when in walks Wookie. It’s always good to have Wookie around. I was really young when I got on the team and some of the dogs, who were all bigger than me then, kind of scared me… but not Wookie. Wookie is a Black Lab, too, but he is so goofy you can’t help but smile when you’re around him. 

We’d been there about an hour when it was time for our medical check. Since our Task Force is part of Texas A&M University, we have vets from the School of Veterinary Medicine give us exams before we go out the door. They check our temperature, move all of our legs around, and check to make sure we’re not injured or sick. My favorite part is when they make Angie and I run across the floor so they can make sure I’m moving OK… What a Joke!!! Angie is so slow compared to me, it’s barely a trot! Mandy, Wookie and Ian were all laughing too! 

Next time, I’ll tell you about our deployment.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Something is up...

Guess what…I got to go on deployment. I have to tell you about this because it was so cool. One Saturday about three weeks ago, I noticed that Angie started to check her computer several times a day.  That wouldn’t mean much, except the pictures on the computer were really colorful and they had these lines that streaked across the screen, all basically going the same direction.  At the same time she’d switch the TV to the weather channel. (She NEVER watches the weather channel…) She also got her pager out – the one she leaves by her bed – and she put fresh batteries in it.  However, the big kicker was our gear…She brought all the bags into the house and started to inspect them. She’d take stuff out and repack. She switched batteries out of flashlights and stuff. In between she’d rub my ears, and every now and then, she’d lean over and give me a kiss.

Angie and Kip started laughing once because I guess I was following her really close through the house and every time she stopped, I would run into her from behind.  I couldn’t help myself…I was getting excited! I’d gotten deployed a couple of times before. Only on one of them did we get to do search and rescue operations, but on all the rest of them, I got to spend time with Angie and the rest of my Texas Task Force 1 dog-mates and teammates.

The next day, Angie continued to watch the weather. Then she took all our gear and loaded it in the truck. I was watching from the backyard as she walked back in the house. I just knew the next time I saw her, she’d be in her uniform and ready to walk out the door, but that didn’t happen. When I came back in the house, she just walked around like nothing was different…Or at least she tried to. I can always tell when something is up. My doggie sense is wired that way. She tried to act nonchalant, but she was quieter than normal, she hugged Kip and Chris a little more often, and I got my ears rubbed by Chris every time I walked by. I kept a close eye on her. (I ran into her three more times…She, Kip and Chris laughed and hugged.) Yep, something was up!

(To be continued)

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Playground for Dogs

Just when I thought that Disaster City could not get any better, yesterday changed my mind.  There is something new just for dogs! What should I even call it?  It has a tunnel that is way up high, a board that is off the ground, and when you walk on it, it moves.  There are ladders, tall and short, and so many planks to walk across.  Some of them are straight across, and some of them are slanted up and down.  Oh, and there is a slide that is very slippery.  Angie did not want me to go down it because one of the dogs fell off of it.  He was fine.

So with all of the excitement, and all of the dogs trying out this equipment for the first time, it was a good thing that the nice vets from the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team were there.  They checked out the dog who fell off the slide, and they even had those bags with water in them that they hold in the air, while the water goes into a dog’s body through a needle in the skin.  It does not hurt at all, because the vets are so gentle.  I could tell I needed some because my mouth felt very dry.  The vets brought us inside so we could cool off.

We also searched on the rubble piles.  Guess what happened to Sasha?  She was working a problem, and she put her nose on a piece of metal to see if she could smell what she was looking for, then two things happened to hurt her.  First, a bee stung her, but that was not the worst thing.  The metal was so hot that she burned her nose.  Angie put her hand down to see how hot it was, and she yelled, “OWWW!”  I know Sasha will be fine, but we have to be careful.  Sprinkles has burned the bottom of his paws on that hot stuff.

Check out all the pictures of my friends playing on the new agility prop (that is what Angie called it).  Check out Sasha on the board that moves in the air.  Sprinkles was not there, but I know she will have a great time when she gets to play on it.  Are we the luckiest dogs in the world, or what?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Longest Search

The day started like we were going to training. So I thought, “Yeah, Disaster City!” But that is not where we went. Angie and I went to a place where there were lots of people, some other dogs, and instead of going to a rubble pile, we went to a place with lots of trees, a few ponds, rocks and sand, even a couple of bridges. Angie told me: “Go find,” and I just took off, checking out the area.

I thought this was fun, kind of like going to the park, but it was very hard work. The sun was hot, and my pads were getting very warm from running on the sand. Angie made sure to give me lots of water to drink. Sometimes she told me, “Check over here,” and I would go into an area where there were lots of trees and bushes, and she would wait for me to come back. I never did bark because I did not find anybody. But I still worked hard. Finally, she told me that I was doing a good job, and gave me an empty water bottle to fetch. That was fun, and I tore it into pieces.

We worked for a long time, and then went to a place where there were people who checked me to make sure that I was okay. I think they were vets, just not the same ones who I see at home. They thought I needed more to drink, so they put a needle in my skin, and water came from a bag that was over my head, through that needle. I had a hump on my back, but when I went back out to search, I felt better. The water they gave me really helped.

One time during the afternoon, we passed a yard where there were 5 little dogs running loose. They all ran toward me, and Angie yelled at them to leave me alone, which they did. Another time, I tried to go under a barbed wire fence and I felt a little hurt on my stomach. I just kept searching. But when the vets checked me again that day, they gave me some more water through a needle, AND they put stitches in my stomach where I felt the little hurt. They were very sweet to me, and Angie was right there with me, so I was not scared.

Courtesy of Andreaplanet
By the time we left, the sun was gone, and it was night. I was tired and a little bit sore in my body from all of the work, and being out there searching for many hours. I got in my crate, ate my dinner, and fell asleep on the way home. This was not as much fun as a day at Disaster City, but I still had a good time searching. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

A House in a Fire Station

I know this sounds strange, but it is true. We went to a fire station last week, and when we went inside where the fire trucks and lockers are kept, there was a house. Not a real house with a yard and trees, but still it was a house. There were several rooms, an upstairs and a downstairs, windows, doors, a kitchen, a bathroom with a tub (more about that later) and furniture like chairs, tables, and beds (more about the beds later). There were 4 doors that opened into the house, and lots of closets with doors.

It was very, very hot, and there were no fans. So I knew it would be tough to search because there is no air to move the scent around. The first problem: Sasha’s dad was hiding in a room with 3 closets, and I had to figure out which closet was the right one. When he opened the door to play tug, he was wet with sweat, but still ready with my toy. Guess where he was for the second problem? This was easier, because he was in the bathtub, just right out in the open. I have never in my life found somebody in a tub, and I just jumped in right on top of him. Of course there was no water, but it was still fun!

Now, for the best problem of all. Sprinkles ran a problem where Angie was hiding behind a bed, tucked down low, covered with pillows. I happen to know that Sprinkles loves to get on her mom’s bed, and will sleep there all night if she can. So she jumped up on the bed to smell where Angie was hiding, and she laid down all stretched out, and then she barked a lot. And Angie played tug with her ON THE BED. I think this was the best possible reward for Sprinkles, not only getting her toy, but playing with it on the bed. We never get to do that.

 Sasha ran two hard problems, one in the kitchen and one upstairs. I think that she enjoyed being in a new place, just like I did. Even though our humans were hot, we dogs had a great time. We like going to new places and hope that there are more training days like this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Training Trip to Denver

I really lucked out.  We just got back from one of the best places ever for rubble, Denver. This is my second time on an airplane, so I was pretty cool and relaxed.  Get on the plane, curl up under Angie’s legs, and take a nap.

The only bad part is the day we fly, because I don’t get any breakfast, not even water on that morning.  Not sure why that is, but I am starving and thirsty when we get off the plane.

You know how Disaster City has rubble, trains, buildings, houses…lots of different places to search.  Well, Denver has only rubble piles, but more than I can count, at least 7, and they are all different.  Some are long and thin, and some are giant.  Some have big slabs of concrete, and some have lots of small rocks.  So for 2 days, we worked all of those piles.  I was tired at the end of the day, and ready to go to sleep.  By the end of the second day, the pads on the bottom of my feet were a little bit sore.

Guess what animal was all over the place?  Cats? No.  Snakes? No.  Armadillos? No.  Bunnies!  Small, and fast, they were in the rubble piles, on the side of the piles, and I even saw some around the hotel where we stayed.  I saw one dog who was about to search, do something else instead.  He saw this bunny, and instead of doing his job, he pulled away, dragging his leash and ran very fast after the bunny.  Of course, the bunny was much faster, and ran into the rubble pile to escape.  I would have gotten in so much trouble if I had done that.

There were lots of dogs who looked like me, and some other labs who were black, and one who was brown.  There was one dog who looked like Sprinkles, and several dogs who looked like Sasha. I did not make any new friends on this trip because we were all so busy.  I did get to play with some new people who were hiding in the rubble, and that was great fun!

I know that not every dog gets to take training trips.  I am proud to be on Texas Task Force 1.  My mom’s boss makes sure that the dogs on the Task Force get the chance to travel to different places so that they stay good at their job of searching.  Thank you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


 T-O-Y.  That is how Angie sometimes talks when she doesn’t want me to know what she is saying, like when we are at training and she says to Sprinkles’ mom, “Do you have a T-O-Y with you?”  Does she really think that I don’t know what she means?  We all know what that means.  It means TOY!!  But we play along, Sprinkles, Sasha, and me.

There are many kinds of toys, and I have my favorites.  For retrieving, I love my red ball.  It is so old that it doesn’t squeak anymore.  It is the toy that I use when we go to the park, but not a training toy.  For training, I like any toy that I can use to play tug.  So the most important thing is that it have a handle or rope so that somebody can hold on to it while I tug like crazy.  There is one toy that has an empty water bottle inside of it, so it crackles.  I like that sound.   I have a bag full of toys that Angie takes to training.  Sometimes she will have a brand new one, which is fun, but I really like all of my old ones just fine.

Sasha is so funny.  There is only one toy she likes, and she will not even play with anything else.  One time Angie tried to play tug with her using one of my toys and she just spit it out of her mouth.  But I would play with Sasha’s toy, if she would ever let me near it.  I know better than to mess with that.

Now Sprinkles is more like me. She likes a lot of different toys. Her favorites are “babies,” which are stuffed animals.  I have seen her tug with bears, sharks, snakes, frogs, cats, and monkeys.  I also enjoy those soft, fluffy toys, but after I finish tugging, I like to rip them apart, and see all of the white stuffing come out.  So Angie doesn’t keep them around.

I just met a dog who likes a “floppie.”  That is a toy made of cloth in the shape of a circle, and it goes really far when somebody throws it.  It doesn’t make a very good tug toy because it is easy to rip apart.  But for a retrieve toy, it is fine.

The only time I get a toy is when I am training.  There are no toys at home, none.  Not even a tennis ball.  So when I do get a toy, I am very excited.  Usually, once I get it, I don’t want to let go of it, so Angie says in a loud voice, “OUT,” and I have to give it up…until the next time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sprinkles Spends the Night

Angie left me at home while she went out.  She was dressed for training, but I didn’t get to go.  Sometimes I have learned that she puts on those clothes and we don’t get to train.  It can get very confusing for a dog.  I like everything to be simple.

I hung out with Chris and Kip, had some dinner, and was taking a nap, when I hear the sound of Angie’s car.  I always know when she is home, and am ready to meet her at the door when she comes in – unless I am in my crate.  In that case, I just start thumping my tail from side to side because I know that she will let me out to say hello.

Guess what?  She is not alone.  My friend, Sprinkles, walks right in the house, and I am not expecting that.  We kind of play fight, sniff each other, and run from one room to the other. We both try to get Chris and Kip to pet us, and finally share a bowl of water and lay down on the kitchen floor.  Our tails are touching, and we are looking at each other – two retrievers, me a Labrador, and Sprinkles, a Golden.

When it is time to go to sleep, I let Sprinkles sleep on the dog bed with me.  Sometimes during the night, she makes these little noises and moves her legs like she is running.  Maybe she is having a dream about the rubble pile.  Then she is quiet.

In the morning, we both eat breakfast and take a short walk together.  I like having her around.  She is almost as much fun as Sasha, just not as big.  Then Angie puts me in my crate, and she and Sprinkles leave the house together.  Hey, that is not right…what about me?  But later on I know what happened, because when Angie comes back home, Sprinkles is not with her, and Angie smells like she has been to the vet’s office.  Now I get it.  She took Sprinkles to see the vet, and then took her home.  Still, it was fun having company for a little while.  Come back soon, Sprinkles, and next time, I hope you can stay for more than one night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Birthday Party (was not for me)

So right away I know something is up.  Angie is not dressed for training, and she gives me a bath.  We drive over to Sprinkles’ house and pick up her mom who is also dressed differently, and Sprinkles smells like me, clean.  She gets in the crate with me and away we go.

As soon as we get to this building, I hear little kids yelling and I smell other dogs.  Angie goes inside and when she comes back to the car, she tells us, “You are not the only dogs at this party.”  It turns out that we were invited because this little kid who is only 2 years old likes dogs. So instead of presents for him, everybody brought dog stuff.  That sounds good to me.  Maybe there are new toys or treats for Sprinkles and me.

Do you know what a Great Dane looks like?  It is a dog who is so tall, I have to look up to see his face.  There was a mom dog and 2 puppies, just walking around.  Not very good manners, those dogs, sniffing me and Sprinkles, but we were on our best behavior.  Lots of little kids came up to pet us, baby talk to us, and we even had our pictures taken with some of them.  I wore a hat that looks a lot like Sasha’s ears, pointed at the top.

There was a big table, and it was covered with dog food, toys, blankets, leashes, bowls, and beds.  I thought about jumping up there, but I knew that I would get in trouble.  It turns out that all this stuff was for dogs who do not have homes, but live in a shelter like I did before I became part of Angie’s family.  So really, I have enough of everything, and I know that there are dogs who need this stuff.

We stayed a long time.  I was really tired from all of that noise, and having so many people come up to me.  I mean I am a friendly dog, but I would rather be training than partying.  I hope that we do not do this again. The next time there is a party, I hope it is on a rubble pile with lots of people hiding for me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sleepover with Sasha

I went to training at Disaster City, and my mom had to stay overnight to go to a meeting the next day.  So rather than have me sit and be bored in my crate in the car, she asked Sasha’s dad if he would take me home and let me spend the night at Sasha’s house.  He said yes, and I got into her crate in his car, and away we went.  We took turns sitting up and lying down in the crate on the way home.

When we got to Sasha’s house, the first thing we did was run around outside.  She lives at a place with horses, so there are lots of different smells.  She also has a pool.  I was about to jump in, but her dad told me “no” so I did not.  I know that if one of us jumped in, the other one would be right in the water too.

Next, we ate dinner.  And then we hung out with a bunch of dogs that are about the size of Oscar the cat.  They are called King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, and they are not search dogs, but pets.  They are the kind of dogs who would rather watch a movie like “All Dogs Go to Heaven” than a movie that Sasha and I would select, like “Air Bud.”

When it was time to go to sleep, we went into the room with Sasha’s mom and dad.  There was a dog bed that Sasha usually uses, but she let me sleep on that one, and she used a different one.  At one time during the night, we both jumped on the bed, but that didn’t last for long.  We slept side by side all night.

The next day, we played all day long, running, chasing each other, and by the end of the day I was tired.  I started thinking about going home, and then I heard Angie’s car pull up in the driveway. I was glad to see her and very happy when she came in the gate and hugged me.  The funny thing is that Sasha did not want me to leave.  She came up to the car, and tried to jump in.  I guess she does not have many friends come to visit.  I hope that we can have another sleepover soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Not So Perfect Day

Just so you know, sometimes there is a boring day, even if I think that it is going to be fun and exciting.  This happened last week.  Angie got dressed in the clothes that mean we are going to training.  We got in the car (oh, by the way, it was a different car than the other one and smells different. But I still have a hup step on the back, so I can get up and down easily, and I still have the same crate).  We drove for a long time, so I thought we were going to Disaster City.

We didn’t go to Disaster City, but we did go to a big warehouse where I have stayed before while Angie is in a meeting.  There are crates there for dogs.  I had to stay by myself, with no other dogs, for hours.  It was so boring.  Every so often, Angie would come to check on me, and there were some people doing something with a thing that looked like a tent, and they were dressed in these weird clothes, with masks on their faces and big gloves.  I think I heard the words “de-con” and “haz-mat.”  All I know is they had nothing for me.

Finally, Angie comes to get me, lets me take a break (no toy, no searching, no fun), and we get back in the car.  Maybe now we are going to Disaster City, but no, we go to the vet’s office.  It is not like the vet in Austin where I live, but it is at a place called Texas A&M. It is much bigger and there are lots more smells.  I have seen birds and hamsters there, but mostly dogs and a few cats.  They check me out, give me a couple of shots, take some of my blood and pee, and then we leave.  But do you think we go to Disaster City?  NO!

Instead, we get back in the car, and drive for a long time.  I guess we are going home, which is ok since I am hungry from doing nothing all day.  But instead, we go to a building, and Angie goes inside and leaves me in the crate in the car.  By now it is dark.  I decide to go to sleep because there is nothing else to do.  When Angie comes back from the building, she tells me, “Sorry, Sammie, that meeting took a long time.”  Finally, we go home, I get dinner, and that is the end of the not so perfect day.  Hey, it happens.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Perfect Day

Want to know what a perfect day is in the life of a dog like me?  I will tell you.  Now this might not be the perfect day for ALL dogs, but I know it would be for many of my friends, like Sprinkles and Sasha.  The day starts with breakfast that has salmon mixed in with my dry food.  I have to be sure to protect that tasty treat from Oscar the cat, who is eyeing me like he could take me out...right, like that could ever happen.

Then I go with Angie in the car to a store where there are lots of flowers and plants.  There are people there who are always glad to see me, and a man who gets down on the floor and plays rough with me, growling and patting my fur.  While Angie is looking at the flowers, I just go into the back part of the store where there is always fresh water for me.  I am always the only dog in the store and I like that.

The best part of the day is training.  This day there are lots of people to hide for Sprinkles and me.  I search the burn building, which has 4 floors, and there is somebody hiding on every floor.  I can smell them even though there has been a lot of smoke in that building.  My favorite was a person hiding under the pillows of a couch and I jumped on them and barked.  Then I go outside and there are 2 children hiding in an old car.  I jumped in the window to get to them and they yelled, “Sammie, Sammie you got in!  Good girl!”  I was not always sure that it was ok to bark when I find children…they just smell different from the adults.  Now I know that I should bark when I find somebody, no matter how old they are.

After I searched, Sasha, Sprinkles and I got to play on the bases, which look like little tables.  We would each go to a base, and sit there until we were told to go to another one.  Each of us had to pay attention so we knew where to go.  And when we were all done, we played with toys and acted wild and crazy since we didn’t need to pay attention.

And then I went inside and a man was there with a table in front of him that looked kind of like a bed.  I hupped up on it, and he told me to lie down, which was weird and I was not too sure about this.  But Angie was right there.  He used his hands to rub me all over, stretch out my legs, arms, neck, and even my tail.  It felt so good that I licked his face to tell him “thank you.”  I hope I get to do this again.  It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sick Days

Angie has been sick for a few days.  She is coughing and it sounds like barking.  Her nose has stuff coming out of it and she uses a lot of white soft paper (I know it’s soft because I picked a piece up when she wasn’t looking).

She has stayed home and in bed.  She smells different than she does when she is not sick, not bad, just not the same.

I thought that I should keep her company, so I took my dog bed out of the crate and dragged it into her room, so I could lay down beside her bed.  She was sleeping even though it was not dark yet.  I waited for her to wake up, and when she didn’t, I jumped on the bed.  I know that is wrong, but I was worried about her and wanted to be close to her.  She was under a bunch of blankets even though her body felt hot to me.

When she woke up, she put her hand on my ears, and we looked at each other.  She didn’t even make me get off the bed, she just let me stay there while she went back to sleep.  After a while, Kip brought her some medicine and water.  “No food,” she tells him.

I am very bored because we are not training.  But mostly I just wish that she would act like she always does.  Letting me stay on the bed is just not her way.

And when she talks to me, her voice is not the same as it usually sounds.  I like for my life to be pretty much the same all the time.  This is different.

But good news, she is getting better!  She is eating bread with peanut butter and drinking some milk. And she has stopped sleeping so much. She is starting to smell almost the same as always.  I bet we will be back training very soon.  Next time this happens, maybe she should go to the vet like I do, and he can help her get well quicker.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Storm Alert

I can always tell when the weather is going to get scary, and for me that means loud noises that boom and crackle, any thunder and lightning.  The rain is okay by itself, but those other sounds bother me.  It has always been this way. I remember one time when I was a puppy, I was in a field and the sky looked like there were lines in it and the thunder sounded like it was going to come down on me.  I start shaking all over, my legs and tail, my whole body.  And just when I think it might be over, and I start to relax, there it comes again.  I don’t know what to do when I hear those noises, so sometimes I walk back and forth, sometimes I try to find Angie, Kip, or Chris so I can lean against them, and sometimes I just lay down and shake.

Last night we were at the fire station, and I started to get that feeling that a storm was close.  We went inside where the fire trucks stay, and something happened that was good.  Even though the thunder and lightning happened, I felt better.  I know that Sasha and Sprinkles were not happy, but we all were working on learning something new, and there were lots of treats.  We learned how to roll over and even though it felt weird, I forgot about the noise outside.  Sasha looked so funny, with her big ears, and she did not want to do it.  She would do half of a roll, and finally, the whole thing.  I would rather roll on something soft than the hard floor at the fire station, but it is fun to learn something.

By the time we got in the car to go home, the storm was over, and no more noise, just a little rain.  I curled up in my crate and fell asleep.  So it was a no-shake night for me.  I think the next time it storms, Angie should try teaching me to do a new behavior.  That way I won’t be so worried about the weather.

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Fun at the FEMA Training Weekend

It is hard to pick my favorite part of the weekend.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the toys that the other dogs brought with them.  Hunter, the border collie, had a toy with a name: ”Football Man.”  Here is a picture of him with this toy. 

There were lots of tugs, floppies, ropes and babies (that is what Angie calls stuffed animals).  I don’t really care what toy I get, but I will say that the ones that squeak are my favorites.

We used all of the rubble piles at Disaster City, including the pallet pile, which is where I got hurt one time.  That is where a nail went through my pad.  Not this time, though.  Oh, this is so funny.  One young dog was searching on that pile, and she stopped right above where the person was hiding, and she peed on the board that was on top of him!  Those young dogs just do not have any manners.  She was barking and peeing at the same time.

Of course we all enjoyed the rubble piles.  Usually there were 2 people hiding for us.  Here is a picture of Party Girl searching on Rubble Pile 1.   
Can you tell how small she is? She is one of my friends from Florida, and this is her second trip to Texas. 

We all love using the barking box.  It is so easy but so fun.  There is this box with holes at the bottom.  You run up to it, bark at the scent coming from the holes, and all of a sudden the door opens.  There is somebody waiting there to play tug with you. You can see 2 dogs playing in these pictures.

I always like running so when the hup tables are set up, I can’t wait to follow Angie’s directions about going to one, or more of them.  Check out other dogs enjoying them.
That dog from New York looks a lot like Sasha, so I like her a lot.

No matter what we do, the best part is when we get to play tug.  And there were some great tuggers here that weekend. They had different ways of playing, used new words, made silly sounds, even growled at us. I just wished all of these people lived in Texas so they could play tug with me all the time.  Look at these lucky dogs and how happy they are.

Don’t you wish you could have been there?  Can’t wait till next year!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

FEMA Training Weekend

Last weekend, almost 60 dogs… and I have never seen that many dogs in one place, never ever… came to Disaster City. They all came with their moms or dads, and they all stayed at the same hotel. That is a lot of dogs sleeping in rooms, going in and out of the hotel, and using the elevators. I stayed with Angie in a room with another lab, a big black lab named Blade who I liked a lot. We shared bones and got along very well.

So, we were not all running around Disaster City. We were in groups and each group took turns using the different stuff that was set up for us. There were all kinds of dogs: labs, shepherds, border collies and golden retrievers. Here is a picture of one of the groups, and you can see some of the dogs and how they are not all the same:

And these dogs came from 12 states, not just from Texas. I remember some of these dogs and some of their moms and dads, but some of them were new. I really liked the dogs in my group, especially a small black lab named Party Girl and a border collie named Hunter.

Let me tell you about some of the cool things we did! First let me start with something that I’ve never done before. There were people there from the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team, and they could take care of any dog who was hurt (including  one dog who got 2 toe nails ripped off). But, that isn’t all these vets did. They also showed us how to get stronger, use our bodies in different ways, and stretch our arms, legs and backs. Check out these pictures and you will see what I mean.
Here is how we learned to strengthen our stomach muscles:

We worked on sitting up on our back legs and putting our front legs up so we looked like a chipmunk. I really had to concentrate, and after a few times, I was a little sore. Angie held a treat above my head, and I had to keep my back legs down and just lift up the rest of my body.

The vets also showed how to check us from nose to tail to make sure we are breathing okay, and that our ears, eyes, noses and mouths are healthy. Look at these pictures to see how this works.  

Check back to learn more about the fun we had!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sammie’s Tail

My tail is very important to me.  Of course, my nose and feet and eyes are, too, but there is just something so cool about having a tail.  I love being able to swing it around side to side, up and down, in a circle both directions, and to thump it against things, like dog beds, furniture and people.  Sometimes Chris and I play, and I like to thump it up and down on his stomach while he pets my head.  He also plays this game with me when I am lying down.  He looks at me, and puts his hands up in the air.  I thump my tail very slowly.  Then he comes closer, and I move my tail faster, up and down, and by the time he gets to me, and pets me, there is fast wagging going on.

When I am in my crate, lying down, hanging out, I curl my tail around my back legs so that if I turn my head that way, I can see it.  I look at the tails of other dogs, and notice that some are like mine, and others are not the same.  Sasha’s tail is much bigger, and Sprinkles’ tail has long fur that hangs down from it.  All of us use our tails as a way to touch each other, so if we are waiting our turns, and are side by side, our tails can move even if we are still. 

Luna and Maggie
There are some dogs like me, Labrador Retrievers, who used to have long, beautiful tails but not anymore.  I wonder if they miss the tails that are gone.  Now they have tails that are short and close to their bodies.  I guess that the tails were hurt or sick, and fell off.  I don’t want to lose any part of my tail. When Angie checks me for injuries, she starts at my nose, and goes all the way to the very end of my tail. When she brushes it, that feels so good, my tail goes into its wagging mode!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Nose Knows

I just love going to Disaster City, and here’s why.

Sammie's friend, Gracie, playing tug
First of all, I get to see my other friends, not just Sasha and Sprinkles.  There are some dogs that look like me, and some dogs with ears like Sasha’s.  Most of the time, I get to play on the rubble piles, and there is one that is really, really big.  There are lots of places where people can hide, and I think the most I remember were five!  Do you know what that means?  I would find one person, bark until Angie gets to me, and then the person who is hiding would stick out a toy for me to tug.  And then we would do it again. I don’t even care what toy I get, it can even belong to another dog.  I just want somebody who can hold on to it and play tug with me.  I shake my head from side to side, and use all of my body to make the game fun.  There is one dog who would rather get food than a toy; I just don’t get that at all.

Disaster City is so fun! I feel like I am flying across the rubble, almost like I have wings.  There are places where I must jump, crawl, slide and almost stand on my head.  I try to get as close as I can to where the person is hiding; a couple of times I got so close I could see their eyes.  But usually that doesn’t happen because there is so much concrete and other stuff that makes it impossible for me to get close.  And that is not a big deal, because my nose knows and shows me the way to the place where I should bark to tell Angie, “Right here!” Oh, and sometimes on the way, I smell clothes, or food or a cat (not Oscar, but that same kind of smell).  I ignore all that, because the only time I get to tug is if I find the person.  This is disgusting, but I have also had to ignore the smell of a dead fish…yuck. But that was easy because it reminded me of Oscar’s cat food and that stuff stinks!

Sandy Cay, cooling off
Sometimes, dogs can get hurt at Disaster City.  I have stepped on a nail, and it went all the way through the pad on my foot.  It didn’t hurt that much, and when Angie told me we had to go to the vet, I was mad that I couldn’t keep playing.  I had a couple of stitches and was fine.  Other dogs have cut their legs and feet much worse than that.  And when the concrete is hot in the summer, it can really hurt the skin on the bottom of the pads on my feet.  That is why after I get off the rubble pile, I lay on my back and Angie checks to make sure there is no blood anywhere, and that I am fine. She is always making sure that I get enough water.  If I won’t stop to drink the water, she pours some on my body to cool me off.  There is one part of my body that I really do not want to get hurt, and it might surprise you to know what that is …