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From Homeless to Hero

So many inspiring stories come from animal rescue. Those involved in helping pets in need work from their hearts, doing all possible to give a homeless pet a chance at a great life.  Sometimes along the journey, we are led to an unexpected purpose.


Rambunctious Buck came to EARS when his young family was not able to devote to Buck the time he needed. Placed in a foster home with other dogs, he tried to be the alpha of the pack. This, of course, didn't sit well with the other dogs or his fosters. But being devoted to rescue, they found ways to keep them separated, including adding additional fencing down the middle of their yard. That way all the dogs could enjoy being outside while everyone had their own space.


It didn't take long for his fosters to realize Buck required an enormous amount of exercise. They were thankful when he made the pool his favorite thing and could jump in the water catching tennis balls for hours.  Even with all the exercise Buck was still a handful. Having a lot of experience with dogs, especially rescue dogs, his fosters realized Buck needed a job. Certain breeds of dogs have a work mentality. They must have a job or they will not settle or relax no matter how much exercise they get.

Buck's Foster Dad was determined to find the right job for him. An opportunity to volunteer with Peace River K9  Search and Rescue, that searches for lost or missing persons, led them both on an unexpected journey.  As it turns out, dogs with behavioral issues actually do really well during search and rescue training. Buck was no exception and has excelled in the various skills he is being taught. Listed below is the extensive list of skills required by search and rescue K9s and their handlers. This summer Buck and Ric became certified search and rescue specialists.


Trying to find a job for Buck, his foster dad found an unexpected purpose. Asked if he ever thought he would be involved in search and rescue before this journey began he replied “absolutely not, but I can't imagine not being a part of it now. It's a great retirement hobby." Besides working with Buck in the field, Ric is taking courses to expand his knowledge, including a Forensic Anthropology course.  The Search and Rescue Team train every Saturday,  but it requires the dedication of at-home training 7 days a week.  Ric and Buck work at different skills daily.  The change in Buck when he puts on the Red Vest to "go to work" is amazing.  He is happiest when he is in training mode.  These pictures show the joy.  Anyone that ever met him can't believe the change. 


Fostering Buck for over a year, his fosters officially adopted him knowing he chose them because he had found his purpose.

Buck went from homeless to hero and his dad became a hero too.

You never know where this life will take you. Live from your heart, be open to new experiences and you may find an unexpected purpose along the way.

Helicopter training.  Ric and Buck on the far left.  Still not great with other dogs, so they keep their distance.

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Happy Buck.jpg
Buck head.jpg

Pure Joy

Ric and Buck

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Buck on track.jpg
Buck Rubble at helo.jpg

This is from a fellow Search and Rescue Volunteer.  "Why is this my favorite pic from training yesterday and not even my dog? This guy was rescued from a shelter and has now been trained to be a search and rescue dog. When he first came out to our team with his human, his head was down. He did not enjoy being around anyone but his human, and his demeanor was a little on the edgy side. Yesterday he was tackling three-story rubble piles like a champ, leaving his owner’s side, and even ran up to me and gave me a quick nose bump. The smile on his face says it all. He is confident, fast and showing what a wonderful dog he has become."

Handlers & K9 Receive the Following Training & Certifications

NIMMS 100, 200, 300, 400, 700, 800 
Basic & Advanced First Aid/CPR 
Pet First Aid/CPR/Advanced K9 Trauma
Day and Night Operations in Land Navigation
​F130/190 Basic Wildland Firefighting Course
USNG Awareness
Citizens Emergency Response Team training (CERT)
Helicopter loading/unloading and Helicopter base Operations 
ASTM F3072: Intermediate Wilderness GPS/GNSS Use(GPS/GNSS-IIW) Endorsement
ASTM F2209: Standard Guide for Training of Level I Land Search Team Member
ASTM F1847: Standard Guide for Demonstrating Minimum Skills of Search and Rescue Dogs and Handlers
ASTM F1848: Standard Classification for Search and Rescue Dog Crew/Teams
ASTM F1879: Standard Guide for Demonstrating Obedience and Agility in Search and Rescue Dogs
ASTM F1739:  Performance of survival swimming and self-rescue in still water
ASTM F2890: Standard Guide for Hazard Awareness for Search and Rescue Personnel


AKC Canine Good Citizen Advanced (CGCA)  
Rescue Rope, Knots for Handler/ K9 and/or Patient Assessment & Packaging
Man Tracking
K9 and Animal Learning Theory & Modern Training Techniques
Updated Scent Theory and Meteorology of Scent Classes
ASTM: F2890  Haz-Mat Awareness Training
Structural Collapse Awareness
Confined Space Training (Awareness Level)
Blood borne Pathogens Awareness Training
​Crime Scene Preservation 
Lost Person Behavior (LPB)
Basic Inland Search Class (BISC/USAF)
​Wide Area Search (TEEX WAS PER 213 )
Search & Rescue in Community Disasters (TEEX PER 334)
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
Managing the Lost Person Incident (MLPI)
Urban Search Management (USM)
State of Florida Emergency Response Awareness (SERP)
Human Trafficking Awareness/Homeland Security
Child Abduction Response Team Training (CART)

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