White Dog and the White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday
White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army believe that humans are just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding what tremendous partners companion animals are to them. Study after study clearly indicates that dogs, and cats, too, are capable of problem-solving, and compassion, planning, and higher-order thinking. They are fearless in entering dangerous situations to help another; they are better physically designed for many types of activities; they are loyal and dedicated without question; and their senses are more acute.
With each discovery the world comes closer to the beautiful wonderful day when animals are respected for what they have to contribute and are appreciated for the significant positive difference they make to mankind.
Here is yet one more way our canine angels watch over and protect us:
K9 Lifeguards Watch Over Coastline Thanks to Woman’s Passion
By Jared Whitlock The Coast News, March 1, 2012
COASTAL CITIES — Last July, a young boy was riding on a jetski near the Oceanside Harbor when he was thrown off the watercraft. His family watched helplessly as big surf threatened to slam him into a rock pile. A boat rescue was too risky, but a special lifeguard dog was on hand. Rummy, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever, hopped in the rough water and swam toward the boy with a long rescue tube. Panic stricken with minor cuts, the boy calmed down when Rummy reached him. The boy clung onto Rummy’s custom lifeguard jacket and the dog pulled him to a boat operated by Niki Burgan, an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor and Rummy’s handler. Rummy still wasn’t finished. The dog headed for the jetski and hooked it with the rescue tube, allowing Burgan to haul the watercraft in.
Burgan created the SoCal H2O Rescue Team, the U.S.’s first K-9 lifeguard team, in 2009, and Rummy has been making rescues since. While the SoCal H20 Rescue Team has saved lives, it was born from tragedy.
Burgan’s mother, sister and stepfather died in a small-plane crash off of Carlsbad’s coastline in 2007. Fishermen recovered her mother and sister’s bodies. Her stepfather’s body was never found. Consequently, Burgan believes specially trained search-and-rescue dogs could have made the difference in locating his body. Burgan knew she had to do something.
“I really thought that there’s got to be a better way to do this,” said Burgan, who volunteered to train her dogs. “Dogs are cost effective and have abilities people don’t. The idea wasn’t to take lifeguard’s jobs. It was to give them another resource.”
Due to Burgan’s passionate efforts, The California Department of Parks and Recreation and local governments backed Burgan’s plan for a nonprofit K-9 lifeguard team, which currently includes Burgan, other lifeguards, Rummy and two other dogs. “Our number of dogs hasn’t expanded over the years, but what we’re asked to do has greatly expanded,” Burgan said.
The SoCal H2O Rescue Team is primarily known for aquatic rescues. But they’re also trained to help on land. Last September, for example, Burgan and Rummy helped find a missing child in San Bernardino as part of a statewide search.
As for the coast, Rummy regularly finds missing children at local beaches. Not to mention, in the event of a bluff or seawall collapse, Rummy and the other dogs are trained to search through the rubble for victims.
The dogs are trained at various beaches throughout North County two or three times a week for several hours each session. One exercise simulates ocean rescues. For example, while Rummy is told to wait on the beach, a lifeguard floats beyond where the waves are breaking and waves his or her arms. Then Rummy is given the green light. With a rescue tube attached his lifeguard jacket, he punches through the surf and pulls the lifeguard in, even in waves as large as 10 feet — a testament to Rummy’s swimming ability and understanding of rip currents.
“We do it at beaches with plenty of distractions to recreate the real thing,” Burgan said. “It keeps him sharp.”
When not at the beach, to further develop Rummy’s keen sense of smell, Burgan will plant different scents on complicated trails and have Rummy track each one. Going forward, Bergen wants to train Rummy and the other dogs to detect and stop human trafficking groups that are arriving on San Diego beaches. Bergen also envisions more dogs and their trainers going through the National Association for Search and Rescue certification process (Rummy is the only dog in California with the certification.)
The SoCal H2O Rescue Team relies on private and corporate donations. Rummy is a nominee in the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.