Vol. 6, Issue 29, July 18-24, 2008

By Paulina Woods

The Capistrano Dispatch

Ortega 4-H Rangers raise money for search and rescue dog

Sit. Stay. Find. Common words used every day, but to Spuds, the Orange County Fire Authority’s Urban Search and Rescue canine, they could mean the difference between life and death. Trained to find people who are alive and trapped, Spuds spends his days training like an athlete for the Olympics.

On July 8, Spuds and his handler, Capt. Richard Bartlett, were invited out to the Ortega Equestrian Center on Calle Arroyo for his first presentation. For 30 minutes Spuds and Bartlett showed the Ortega 4-H Rangers what a top athlete the dog is.

“He is trained to follow hand signals, verbal commands and whistling,” Bartlett said. “He is always on alert until I make it clear that he can relax.”

Relaxation time for Spuds usually means wrestling with his favorite toy. Bobby Fisher, 15, a three-year member of the 4-H Rangers, had the opportunity to wrestle with Spuds. Still, with ears forward and quivering with excitement, Spuds obediently waited for the signal from Bartett before springing into action.

“It was pretty cool,” Fisher said.

The Rangers, keeping with their goal of becoming productive leaders, raised $750 and donated it to the care of Spuds. This is not the first time that they have donated money to law enforcement; they also raised funds to help purchase riot masks for the horses of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, they are working on is creating care packages for servicemen and women who are overseas.

To raise the money, they wash cars, ask for donations, hold bake sales and are “pooper scoopers” at the Swallows Day Parade. “They really hate being pooper scoopers in the Swallows Day Parade,” organizer Kathy Holman said with a laugh. “They are embarrassed to be seen by their friends.”

Some of the money earned also helps them travel to Sacramento for the Classic—a year-end competition in California for all 4-H and FFA equestrians.

Search and rescue dogs are donated or found at shelters by the Search Dog Foundation and than paired with firefighters of California.

To donate to the foundation, visit the Web site at: www.searchdogfoundation.org.


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