Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Day of Remembrance

Today is September 11th and it is a day in United States' history that will never be forgotten. For me, this day is forever memorialized not only as a day of tragedy and loss, but also a beacon of hope in the form of a four legged companion.

I will never forget that warm summer evening in June 2006, when a tiny twelve week old black Labrador puppy was placed in my arms. Her name was Ggoody. Her future held high hopes, more than just digging holes in the backyard and chewing holes in tennis shoes. She was destined to be an explosive detection dog for the Department of Homeland Security. That's a lot of pressure to put on one tiny pup! However, what made her even more remarkable was her name. Ggoody was named after Harry Goody III, one of the 2, 996 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

A year had passed with the normal ups and downs that accompany raising a puppy. However, what amazed me the most when it came time for Ggoody's formal recall date was how mature she had become. No longer was she a gangly puppy trying to figure out her place in life, but in fact a mature, confident dog with the ability to live up to and honor her namesake, just as she was bred to do.

I believe that was the true power of the Puppy Program. In a way, it's a bit poetic (albeit tragic) that the very dogs bred to protect our nation were named after people who lost their lives in the very event these dogs now aim to prevent. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to raise two of these incredible dogs, who have profoundly changed my life for the better and have truly honored their namesakes.

Although Ggoody was released from the program due to medical reasons, Llarson (my second puppy to raise) did graduate from the program as an explosive detection dog. It's hard for me to put into words how proud I was when I heard the news of Llarson becoming a detection dog because it was a feeling greater than pride. It may seem a bit ridiculous from the outside perspective that this amount of emotion can be evoked by a dog, but I know my fellow "puppy walkers" understand. The whirling dervish of a puppy that I raised would soon be protecting our county just as his namesake, Scott A. Larsen, had done as a firefighter during the 9/11 attacks.

Today I am writing this post in memory of Harry Goody III and Scott A. Larsen. You will always be remembered. #neverforget #honor911

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rain or Shine a Dog has to Walk

Today started out sunny and bright, but has ended with much cooler temperatures and rain. I am loving the cooler weather, and the rain to some extent. Despite the rain, Llarson has to get his daily walk in because Mondays are my longest days on campus. Without his daily walk he can be quite the handful! It was surprisingly great walking weather and even cleared up towards the end. Here is a picture from our evening jaunt.
-Addie & Llarson

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Back to School

Well it's that time of year again where summer ends and school begins. I have been back at school for two weeks now. I have to say senioritis is already kicking in because I keep thinking of my graduation in December. I can't wait! As for Llarson, his schedule hasn't changed all that much since school started. I am fortunate enough that my schedule allows me to go home for lunch, so I can spend a little bit of time with him during the day. The part he doesn't enjoy is that during the week I only have time to go for walks around the neighborhood. However, we make up for this on the weekend by going on long hikes. We went on a great hike this morning. Llarson loved looking at the prairie dogs that were just off the trail. He could not figure out what these "squirrel-like" animals were. Other than that not much has been going on. Until next time...
-Addie and Llarson

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Beginnings

It's been a long time since I have updated, and a lot of happy, exciting, and also heartbreaking events have happened since that time. However, I want to try and keep up with blogging because I really do miss having a place where I can keep track of the outings with the dogs.

I guess to begin where I left off, Llarson had been retired from detection work and came back to live with me as my pet dog. He is loving the life of a pet dog, especially the part about sleeping on the bed. He lived with my parents from September (when I officially adopted him) until about two weeks ago when he moved in with me because I found a place that would allow dogs for my final semester of college. (Yes I am graduating from college in December! I can't even begin to express how excited I am about this.) Having Llarson with me has been the best change so far. He is an excellent study buddy, as I am taking an online class this summer, and best of all he is also an excellent motivator for getting me outdoors for a much needed walk/hike/run each day. I think the picture below proves this.

I think the worst change that has happened since my last update has to do with Ggoody. Back around September, Ggoody had been having increased problems with her allergies. Her liver counts were elevated due to the fact she was taking very low doses of Temaril-P, a low dose steroid, to control her allergies. Unfortunately, the elevated liver counts meant she had to be taken off of Temaril-P which caused a downward spiral in her allergy flare-ups. The poor thing was so itchy and losing so much hair that she had to be bathed with a special shampoo at least once a week.

Around the time I came home from school for winter break and at the recommendation of our vet, we started Ggoody on a drug called Atopica. This drug is used to control skin dermatitis as a result of allergies. She seemed to be doing slightly better, but she still wasn't the same perky and happy-go-lucky dog we were used to. Within a few weeks, her hind end began to get very stiff when she stood up from laying down. Our vet found nothing physically wrong with her, however there was a small chance that this was a side effect of the Atopica.

Honestly, all of these issues were a part of a much larger problem that had been hiding. On the morning of January 13th, we woke up to find Ggoody downstairs, panting, very weak, and with white gums and eyelids. I think my family knew at this point the chances were not looking good. My dad carried her to the car because she couldn't even stand and laid her in the backseat of the car. We rushed to the emergency vet and they immediately rushed her back for tests. It was soon discovered that Ggoody had hemangiomasarcoma of the spleen. This is a very deadly and aggressive form of cancer commonly found in Goldens and German Shepherds that attacks the blood vessels of the spleen by forming a tumor. Currently, there is no cure for this type of cancer. The problem is, that sometimes these tumors can rupture and cause dogs to bleed out internally. Unfortunately this is what was happened to Ggoody and actually our previous dog as well. It was a heartbreaking prognosis and not at all what I was expecting to hear. To ease Ggoody's suffering, my family and I decided it would be best to put Ggoody down.

It was a very difficult thing to decide, but looking back on it that was the best decision for Ggoody because treatment was not a humane option at that point. I miss her terribly. In fact when I go home for school breaks, I still expect to see her greeting me at the door with her tail going a mile a minute. Her loss was taken pretty hard by my immediate family, my grandparents (who adored her), and my neighbor Lois, who was Ggoody's "baby-sitter" when my family was away from home. We miss her so much, but it was really nice having Llarson at home to comfort us.

One of Ggoody's last times out at the field with her favorite toys.

I didn't mean for this post to be such a downer, so on a more positive note, Llarson recently moved in with me (as stated above). He has been loving life and is still the biggest goofball. He has such a funny personality (I blame the Vizsla in him). He was great during the moving process and I think loved checking out all the new smells our new house brought. It's an awesome feeling to be an official dog owner!

And most recently, as of Sunday, my family back home (my mom, dad, brother and sister) welcomed a new addition to the family. Her name is Ava and she is pictured below. She is an all white Spitz mix, who after she was originally adopted from an animal shelter was left in the backyard all the time. She escaped and found her way back to the shelter where her owner was contacted to come pick her up. Her owner never came, but the rescue group where my family adopted her from did come. From what I hear, she has been a wonderful, calm, and loving new addition to the family. I am hoping for the chance to go home in a month or so to meet her for the first time. Can't wait!

I am hoping to be a better blogger and update regularly on Llarson's adventures. I plan on taking him hiking this weekend, so I will try my best to update on this upcoming excursion.

Have a great rest of the week,

Addie and Llarson

Thursday, November 15, 2012

MAJOR Llarson/TSA Puppy Update

I'm not sure if anyone follows this anymore, but either way I felt it necessary to update on the complete story of what is going on with Llarson and the TSA Puppy Program since there have been some major changes in the last year.

To begin, after Llarson graduated (almost 2 years ago) from the explosive detection dog program at Lackland Air Force base, he was sent to the Minneapolis Airport to work as a detection dog. Long story short, after about a year of working something happened with his handler and Llarson was no longer needed in Minneapolis.

He was sent back to Lackland Air Force Base where he became what I like to call the "practice dog," where new K9-handlers practiced what they learned in the classroom about detection work using Llarson in the beginning stages of their training to get the techniques right for when they were assigned their K9 partner. After staying at Lackland for a few months, Llarson was eventually picked up by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS). The goal was that he was going to become a detection dog for this agency. Initially we thought he was going to graduate with them back in May 2012. However, after no word on a graduation date, I just assumed he was still "in-training" with them.

This is where there was a major change of events. About 2 months ago I woke up to go to school (it was about 6:30am) and I was checking my e-mail on my phone while eating breakfast. I literally dropped my spoon in my cereal when I read an e-mail that Llarson had been dropped by TXDPS and the department was wondering if I would like to adopt Llarson. A range of emotions went through my head. The first was utter excitement. I was being offered the chance to adopt Llarson! I had always said if he ever needed a home, I was going to adopt him. The second was sadness because his career as a detection dog was at an end.

I immediately called my mom. Since I am going to school out of state and live in an apartment that does not allow pets, if I were to adopt Llarson he would have to stay with my parents until next year when I could find a place that allows animals. It took a bit of convincing, but my parents agreed and picked Llarson up September 14th.

I haven't seen Llarson in 3 years and will finally be reunited with him this coming Saturday when I get home for Thanksgiving break. I literally cannot wait! From what I hear from my parents and sister, Llarson has been making himself at home and is loving the advantages that come with being a pet dog. The pictures below describe what I mean.

Overall this was not exactly how I had planned for any of this to work out, but I am so pleased with the outcome.

On a sad note, the TSA Puppy Program has been shut down as of late due to cuts in funding. The status of this program still remains unsure at this point, but hopefully they are able to pick up funding again to resume this incredible program. That means no more puppies to foster during the breaks when I come home from school. They just recently did a story on TODAY about the 500th puppy, Ddolan, who just recently graduated. The video can be found here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Need a Puppy Fix?

Check out this link which shows some of the puppies at the kennels of Lackland Air Force Base. Too cute!

Monday, March 7, 2011

CBDC Made the News...Again!

Random Picture of Ggoody around Christmas time

Today marks the two year anniversary since I had received Llarson to raise. Crazy how time flies! It's been about four months since I last posted which is way too long for my liking. Between school, club meetings, and work I have been super busy which leaves hardly anytime to update. However, I have a bit of free time now so I thought I would update the blog with what has been happening.

Back in November Llarson graduated with his handler and is currently working in Minnesota as a member of the National Explosive Canine Team Program. I couldn't be more proud of him. I haven't been able to get in contact with his handler, but I am sure Llarson is doing just fine. I hope he can handle the cold weather since he grew up in Texas!

Ggoody is doing well. I miss having her around all the time since I am in college now and dogs are not allowed in the dorms. She is still her very laid back, loving self. I love going back home during the breaks to see her. Over the Christmas break I tried to make up for lost time during the fall school semester and took her to several dog parks to burn off excess energy. She loved it! Over Spring Break I plan to do the same thing and possibly take her golfing with me at a course that is dog friendly.

In December my family and I fostered a seven year old long haired dachshund named Elwood from the local humane society. He was such a sweet dog, but had some severe health issues (heartworms and severe dental decay) that the humane society was trying to correct. We offered him a loving home for the holidays. He fit right in and enjoyed sleeping on Ggoody's bed. Sadly we couldn't keep him so we had to take him back to the humane society, but I think he was adopted soon after we returned him since he was removed from the website listing and the shelter is no kill. I sure hope Elwood found a loving home.

Elwood and Ggoody sleeping

Now to the title of the post. A fellow TSA Puppy Raiser shared a link with me about Lackland Air Force Base's Working Dog Program. It was a news story from ABC; it made the national news! The video is awesome and gives a good perspective of what the program is all about. Scott Thomas who is interviewed in the video is the Puppy Raising Program's manager. Too cool! Enjoy. Here is the link.


P.S There may be some exciting news coming up regarding puppy raising, but I am not 100% sure so I don't want to jinx it quite yet. But stay tuned!