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!

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