Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007
There are quite a few of us in this ole world who care as much about our animal friends as we do our human ones.
And there are quite a few of our animal friends whose passing should be noted.
Max and Diana, Judy Otto’s “fur kids” are two such friends.
Both were Belgian tervurens and both were quite stunningly beautiful — vaguely resembling somewhat of a cross between a collie and a German shepherd.
Max and Diana both won much recognition (and hearts). Both were trained as search and rescue dogs and both were exceptionally skilled. And while Judy Otto trained them, I’m not sure how much was her training and how much more was the innate and wonderful abilities of Max and Diana.
Judy, along with many of her search and rescue team and friends, frequently uses our back fields, and, on occasion, our church cemetery, for training exercises.
Search and rescue dogs are special and work very, very hard. At various times, we’ve had bloodhounds, several wonderful labs and an assortment of other dogs sniffing around on our trails.
Gwen and Debbie, both members of the search and rescue team, were frequent visitors to our fields and I’ve become very fond of their dogs — smart, obedient and able to work without a lot of “human” interference.
And as different as all those dogs were, when they put on their “work” collars, they went to work.
Max and Judy had worked together for 10 years. Max had to retire at 12, because of a back injury sustained while training. He was 13 when he passed away and was as dignified and as close to humanly intelligent as any dog I’ve ever met. Sometimes, I wondered if he was smarter than I am...
Diana was Max’s “wife,” and the mother of his offspring. She mourned his passing as much as any widow.
Diana not only was trained as a search and rescue dog, she was a show dog! She was beautiful and she knew it!
And she knew exactly which collar she had on — put her in a show ring and she was spectacular. Put her in the search and rescue harness and she was all business.
A couple weeks ago, Diana, only 7 years old, and Judy were on a routine training exercise and Diana had, as usual, successfully and happily, completed her SAR task.
She was frisking around and tumbled off a 10-foot cliff and did not survive the accident.
Not only did “mom” Judy lose a much-loved family member, our community lost a valuable member —- Diana had participated in many successful search and rescue missions.
Next time you run into a search and rescue member — human or dog, thank them.
They deserve it.
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