I went to my first SAR practice in 2003 and have been obsessed ever since. At the end of that first day, my expensive hiking pants were shredded (briers). I was scratched up from head to toe (briers again). I was wet, sweaty, and so tired I had to stop on the drive home to take a nap. My husband asked me how the day had gone. I told him that I loved it, couldn’t wait to do it again, and that I couldn’t remember the last time life had been so good. That first day the I accompanied a young handler with a fast bloodhound. Off we went careening through the woods, fording streams, plowing through (you guessed it..briers). The practice trail was 2 miles long and had been laid the night before. I was in my 40s at the time and had a very difficult time keeping up. Later, I found out that my team routinely sent prospective members out with the trialing dogs to try to scare less serious people away. I’m still here.
7 years later and I am working with my two German Shepherds: Ripley, and her daughter, Raven. My first team dissolved in 2006 and I started this one. I am a K-9 evaluator and the K-9 coordinator for the New York Federation of Search and Rescue Teams and an instructor in Lost Person Behavior. All this in my spare time.
I also run a boarding school for at-risk teens called The Family Foundation School. It was actually the school that got me into Search and Rescue. Our teens sometimes run away. Many suffer from poor impulse control and they put themselves in harm’s way when they leave. I found out about K-9 search and rescue when I was looking for a way to keep our kids safe without turning the school into a detention center. Ripley has helped recover many students. She found her first student when she was four months old. She’s 5 now. She had a litter of pups in February 2008. The sire, Quax, belongs to my teammate, Kyle Warren. My other SAR dog Raven, is Ripley’s daughter. She is a certified cadaver dog through both the Eastern Police Dog Association and the International Police Work Dog Association.
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