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By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Dogs have always been part of Janiece’s life so, when her beloved Dozer passed away in 2012, it was somewhat inevitable that life soon began to feel empty and the pull to get another dog became stronger. Little did she know the amazing and life-changing adventure that awaited her with Roxy, adopted in January 2013 and now about to become a fully-fledged Search and Rescue dog!

Janiece.Roxy1

How did you find Roxy?
I love telling this story! In November of 2012, my old dog Dozer passed away and I soon started feeling the pull to get another dog. Of course, everyone loves to help you find a new dog, so my friends at work were scanning all the adoption sites for me. A good friend at work (and prior PAWS volunteer) found a shepherd mix she thought would be perfect. I raced to PAWS after work to meet her.

Just talking to her through the kennel door I could tell she wasn’t the dog for me, but as I walked by Roxy something made me stop. I’d seen her previously on the website but she hadn’t triggered anything with me, until I saw her. I instantly knew she was supposed to be in my life.

It was too late to do a meet and greet that day, so I planned to come back the next day. When I got there another family was visiting with her. I was crushed and hoped they wouldn’t click with her. Luckily for me they didn’t and I got to spend some time with her.

She didn’t really care about me and was basically just a big puppy at that point. All she really knew was how to sit for cookies. She had A LOT of energy and was a little nippy (ah, the herding breeds!). I was hooked and put a hold on her. She came home the next day and settled right in on the car ride home.

Roxy_dirt

What were some of the highlights of your first weeks together?
Oh dear, I wish I could say it was a honeymoon from the beginning, but that was not the case! She tried to attack my cat Bailey (there was a baby gate between them), spent a couple months peeing on the floor, and was horrible with visitors. She was, however, a total sweetheart! As she settled into her new life, we worked through all those issues . She’s now great with the cat (they share my bed), never pees inside and loves meeting new people!

Roxy_cat


Were you looking for a Search and Rescue candidate when you started looking for a dog?
I was not, but quickly realized after I got Roxy, this dog NEEDS to work! The Snohomish County K9 Team was hosting an open house, so I decided to check it out. We joined in 2013. Two years later, here we are and my life has completely changed!

How does the training work?
In Snohomish County, you’re first a member of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR). There are training requirements at the county level including navigation, first aid, and wilderness survival. The county also has specialty teams, such as K9 and Equine, and each team has additional training based on their specialty. On average it takes 18 to 24 (or more) months to certify a dog. There’s no cost for the training, however you do have to purchase and maintain your own equipment.

Roxy rigging

What makes Roxy such a good candidate for SAR?
She has high drive (she LOVES to play tug and “hunt” people), she’s bold, energetic and athletic. She’s that dog that will go all day, rest for an hour and be ready to go again. That’s the type of dog that drives you crazy as a pet but makes an excellent SAR dog!

What does the life of a SAR dog involve?
Training, training and more training! Pretty much I just try to keep up with her. We do agility once a week, train with the team once or twice a week, and work on obedience, etc. in between. She also has regular doggie play dates with her friends. Down time to just “be a dog” is really important too. It’s easy to burn a dog out with too much training.

In additional to all of that, it’s important to keep your SAR dog physically fit. We ask a lot of them when they’re working and they need to be prepared for that. We do something active pretty much every day, sometimes that’s a run, a romp at the park or a good hike.

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Any funny training moments you can share?
She had a brief stint as a sled dog while we were training at Mount Rainier. I fell down and she was so excited to start her problem she kept going. I held on and went for a little ride. I think I see skijoring (a winter sport where you’re on skis and pulled by a dog/horse/vehicle) in our future!

What will the next steps be once you’re certified?
She’ll be ready to deploy on missions. She’s currently working on her Airscent Certification, which involves working off leash in large areas. We’ve also done some disaster and avalanche training, and will likely continue to pursue that after she’s certified in Airscent.

 

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What advice do you have for anyone wanting to adopt a dog?
First and foremost, make sure you’re getting a dog for the right reasons and you have the time to commit to dog ownership. Second, make sure you get the right dog for your lifestyle and be realistic about what that is. I see so many people get that “cute” working breed, then don’t give it a job. Those dogs will find a job, we’ve bred them to work. They may just decide that eating your couch or herding your children is the best job for them!

10553525_10202987851156398_8672844687208800613_nGet professional guidance from the beginning. Even if you’ve had dogs before, this helps get you and the dog off on the right foot. Give your dog time to adjust and try to see things from his/her perspective. Their entire world has just been turned upside down. Who knows what their history is? Their behavior is based on their past experiences, and that won’t change overnight.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and personalities end up in shelters looking for that new forever family who’ll let their talents shine – whether those talents are delivering love through snuggles, creating laughter through fun times, or saving lives. Thank you, Janiece, for seeing Roxy’s potential and giving her the perfect career as well as the perfect home!

Find your Roxy today — adopt

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Comments

What a fine story! It should be required reading for all potential adopters.

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