Monday, September 22, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Uncle Matty: Fide canem

By
From page B1 | December 31, 2012 |

Fide canem: the creed of canine search-and-rescue organizations. These two words often adorn their logos or sit high atop their websites. Reassuring words. They are Latin for “trust the dog.”
“Trust the dog” is the first rule new SAR dog handlers learn. That rule paid handsomely in Haiti, where SAR teams were responsible for a record number of saved lives when a monumental earthquake shook the Western hemisphere’s poorest country to its core. Debra Tosch, executive director of the Search Dog Foundation, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “When you go on a mission like this hoping to get one rescue, one find, the fact that they’re having multiple rescues is just amazing.”
SDF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.”
After the earthquake in January 2010, at least 175 SAR dogs and their handlers arrived on the scene to do their part. Dogs from the Netherlands and China. From Ireland and France. From the United States, Britain and Canada. Mexico, Peru and Taiwan. Dogs from Spain, Iceland, Germany and Venezuela.
What makes these dogs so invaluable?
In the context of a calamity like quake-ravaged Haiti, one certified SAR dog is the equivalent of 40 human beings trained in disaster relief. A certified SAR team — one dog, one handler — can accomplish more in these circumstances in 10 minutes than a single person could in several hours.
How do they do it?
By the divine light of their natural-born gifts, in part. Dogs possess night-vision without the funny goggles. Their ears pick up more sound frequencies than ours, and their bodies are more agile. They are smaller, lighter and fearless under conditions that would reduce most of us to nightmares.
The reason behind the credo, though, is that famous canine sniffer. While a person has about 5 million olfactory sensory cells, a dog can have up to 220 million. Canines perceive certain smells in the range of one part in 10 quadrillion. And one-third of a dog’s brain is devoted to olfaction, meaning he is “scent smart.” According to Gary Settles, professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State University, who studied the canine olfactory system for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, “They use scent the way we read the newspaper.”
To put that in normal domestic dog terms, that’s how your dog can mark the same spot on the carpet repeatedly, no matter how much perfumed cleanser you drown it in. But for bomb-sniffing dogs, cadaver-sniffing dogs or search-and-rescue dogs, this heightened sensitivity becomes the stuff of superheroes. And it is why SAR canine handlers are taught, above all: Fide canem.
Specialized training with an expert handler turns a dog’s unique gifts into a lifesaving skillset. Tosch said of the SAR teams’ role in Haiti, “All SDF handlers are experts in reading their canines… The canines are literally the Task Force’s most precious tool in the hunt for survivors: Their well-being is mission-critical.”
And that well-being is ensured. SDF repays their debt of gratitude to these distinguished dogs by guaranteeing a cushy retirement. Not that these hardworking canines seem overly concerned with their benefits plan.
Terry Trepanier, a lieutenant with the Washington Twp. Fire Department, and his golden retriever, Woody, spent 10 days at Ground Zero after September 11. “To know what they’ve been through and to see how they performed makes you proud. And they never complain,” said Trepanier. “They just wag their tails and say, ‘Let’s go.’”
These remarkable dogs are a part of our lives. We pass them in airports, cruise by them at border crossings and sail past them at our nation’s ports. We read about them when children go missing or when a victim of Alzheimer’s disappears. More than a decade ago, we all sat riveted as they reported for duty when the Twin Towers crumbled in New York City. And more recently, we stood by as they responded to the cry for help in Haiti.
Next time you encounter one, be sure to issue a much-deserved scratch behind the ears.
To find out more about SDF’s SAR dogs or to make a donation, visit searchdogfoundation.org. Or google “search and rescue dogs” to extend your research to other similarly worthy organizations.
Woof!

Subscription Required

Thank you for reading the MtDemocrat.com digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.

Current Subscribers
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.

Subscriber Verification

Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.

Call and Save! (530) 344-5000

If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your online subscription

Help?

Matthew Margolis

.

News

Signs subject to removal

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Georgetown smoky but grateful

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

King Fire structural damage confirmed

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Accused arsonist pleads not guilty

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
County releases wildfire smoke advisory

By News Release | From Page: A3

 
Community shows appreciation to firefighters

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Sept. 23 is National Voter Registration Day

By News Release | From Page: A9

 
.

Opinion

The balancing act: Is it incompetence or arrogance?

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4

 
Home country: The backhoe pro

By Slim Randles | From Page: A4

Discouraging fire

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

Beautiful flock

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Militarized police

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Thank you Rotary Club of Placerville

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Development not new

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Earth is dying

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Mather noise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

.

Sports

Lady Trojans tame Woodcreek netters

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
El Dorado stays perfect after 42-0 win

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6

Sports Scene: Sept. 21, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Oak Ridge loses to Reed

By Scott Warden | From Page: A6

Golden Sierra suffers first loss

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6

 
Schedule: Sept. 22-27, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Union Mine gets victory in home opener

By Mark Devaughn | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Roundup: Sept. 20, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Ponderosa falls to Timberwolves

By Brandon Anicich | From Page: A7

 
D’backs stumble against Bear River

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A7

.

Prospecting

Foothill dining: Avacados are good

By Donna Brown | From Page: B2

 
Montessori students win at Nature Bowl

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: B2

Off to España

By Noel Stack | From Page: B2

 
Local students honored with scholarships

By Calrta Rta | From Page: B2

As we were: All shook up

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B3

 
Amador Fair auction sets records

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

Arbor Day Foundation offers cypress trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

 
Workshop to help with communication

By News Release | From Page: B4

Find exceptional names and more

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B4

 
Plans to light Pink the Night

By Marshall Foundation For Community Health | From Page: B10

.

Essentials

DUI Log: Sept. 11-14

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: Sept. 6-8

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Gloria A. Williams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Dorothy B. Rhoades

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Robert “Bob” Sherwood

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
James R. “Jim” Owens funeral notice

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Carlice Williams death notice

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Robert E. Wentland

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Robert “Bob” Lee Rigler

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics