One Good Thing Leads To Another

by Anna Cooke – This feature first appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of The New Barker Dog Magazine.

One year, out of the blue, 15-year-old John Patrick asked his parents for an English Bulldog as a Christmas present. With his sister Sarah looking on, their parents, Jo-Ann and John Lefner said no, citing the family’s current dog, a rambunctious Yellow Lab named Jake, as exhibit number one in support of their argument. The young man quietly left the room. His parents looked at one another, wondering about their son’s curious request. This, from a most giving child who himself had never really asked for anything. How could they deny him?

And so it was that a little brindle English Bulldog puppy entered the lives of the Lefner family, instantly finding a place in each of their hearts (except maybe Jake’s). They named him Dauber after coach Dauber Dybinski, a character in Coach, a popular television series at the time.

Dauber was not long for this world, passing away just a few months later at the age of one. The whole family was so devastated they could not even process the thought of bringing another dog into their fold. Even Jake, the Yellow Lab, seemed out of sorts. But, we don’t find dogs. It seems, when the time is right, they find us.

One afternoon, Jo-Ann was watching domestic diva Martha Stewart on television. Martha has a signature closing at the end of every show. “It’s a good thing.” Those words never rang more true for Jo-Ann than right at that moment.

“This family,” she thought to herself, “needs a good thing, right now.”

Just then, Jo-Ann’s telephone rang. It was Dauber’s breeder. “I have a litter of Bulldog puppies, and there is one that I think would be perfect for you and your family,” she told Jo-Ann.

And so it was that a second little English Bulldog entered the Lefner’s lives and, once again, stole their hearts. Jake took one look at his new housemate and glared up at Jo-Ann with a wrinkled brow as if to say, “What have you done to me now?” They named the English Bulldog puppy Martha Stewart, and she would lovingly torment Jake the rest of his days.

Over the years, the Lefners and their dogs would travel from their home in New York to spend their winters in Charleston, North Carolina. Jo-Ann and Martha Stewart would take walks, visiting the many beautiful parks. While most of the parks allowed leashed dogs, Jo-Ann found that they weren’t really very dog-friendly. There were no water stations or designated places to dispose of dog waste. Soon Jo-Ann and Martha Stewart became crusaders for improving Charleston’s dog parks, successfully campaigning for these and other amenities.

Fast forward a few years. Martha Stewart (the domestic diva) was being released from prison after having served a five-month term for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Ever the marketing maven, she had a quirky idea for her first television show following her incarceration. Why not have a program featuring everyone they could find named Martha Stewart?

The staff Googled “Martha Stewart” and found 167 women, and one English Bulldog, all named Martha Stewart. The internet’s search engine found Martha Stewart, the 10-year-old English Bulldog, via stories about the Charleston dog park campaign.

“Having a dog named Martha Stewart, well, you can imagine the crank calls we had endured from friends and family over the years,” Jo-Ann explained. “Questions like ‘what is Martha Stewart cooking up for dinner tonight?’”

Jo-Ann recalled the evening she received the phone call from someone claiming to be a producer with the Martha Stewart Show. She and John were having friends over for dinner.

“We were in the kitchen, and I picked up the phone to hear someone tell me they were from the Martha Stewart Show. They asked me if I had an English Bulldog by the name of Martha Stewart.”

Jo-Ann immediately thought it was one of her friends joking around, and responded accordingly with a sarcastic answer. Suddenly, she realized that the person on the other end of the phone was serious.

“No, really. I am a producer for the show, and we want your dog to be on Martha Stewart’s first show of her new season,” the woman told Jo-Ann.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They wanted our Martha Stewart to be on the Martha Stewart Show?”

They were flown, all-expenses paid to New York to be on the show in 2006.

“My dog, Martha Stewart went to hair and make-up and Martha Stewart, the star of the show, baked dog cookies for her,” smiled Jo-Ann.

The fame never went to Martha Stewart’s head (the dog, that is).

In December 2010, Jo-Ann Lefner opened a boutique on Anna Maria Island and named it after the family’s fourth English Bulldog, Bella. Regulars loved seeing Bella at the store. Over the years, The New Barker co-hosted a couple of fundraising events at the store in support of animal advocacy, including Florida English Bulldog Rescue.

After 10 successful years, Jo-Ann has decided to close Bella by the Sea Home Boutique. She made her decision just after the first of the year and long before the pandemic crisis. After years of sitting on various Boards, supporting community activities and going to market for her store, Jo-Ann is looking forward to visits with her children and grandchildren.

“It’s time to sit back, enjoy life, and think about my next new adventure,” said Jo-Ann.

Jake and the Shark

In an instant, the shark’s head came out of the water and snatched Jake’s entire body. Greg could hear Jake’s scream as the breath was being squished out of him. Suddenly, the shark and Jake were gone. Greg knew he had to go in after his dog.

by Anna Cooke. The article was published in The New Barker Dog Magazine, Spring 2009.

Greg LeNoir is a finishing contractor in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. His truck is his office and his dog, Jake, is his constant traveling companion. 

“I do trim work, and all of my tools are in my trailer. When I am working, Jake sits in the trailer and guards it. He has an intense look on his face and people mistake that look for him being a mean dog. So they stay away from the truck,” chuckled Greg. “He sits on that trailer like a tiger guarding his den.”

Greg adopted Jake, a 14 pound Rat Terrier, from a pet rescue in the Keys when the dog was about 15 months old. Jake is three now, and if he were a cat, one might figure he has eight of his nine lives left to live.

“At lunchtime, Jake is always ready to eat. We’ll go down to the marina and I’ll take out my bag lunch. Jake runs straight for the water and dives in for fish,” Greg explained.

September 30, 2008 was like any other day. Greg was taking a walk along the mangroves at the marina, near his home. As usual, Jake was in the water, jumping and diving after fish. Jake is a strong little guy, and sometimes he’ll find a piece of driftwood, bigger than he is, and drag it out of the water. When he swims around, Jake never splashes. He just glides silently through the water.

“As I walked parallel to Jake, I watched him swim,” said Greg. But when Jake headed towards the pier, Greg saw the shadow of a shark following close behind.

“I hoped it would not notice Jake, and just swim away,” said Greg. “Then I noticed the jaws of the shark begin to change.”

In an instant, the shark’s head came out of the water and snatched Jake’s entire body. Greg could hear Jake’s scream as the breath was being squished out of him. Suddenly, the shark and Jake were gone.

“I looked around to see if there was anyone who could help me or if there was something I could use.” Greg and his wife Tessalee have no children. Jake is like a child to them. When he saw the shark disappear with Jake, he thought. “This cannot be the end.” He knew he had to go in after Jake.

Greg visually calculated where the shark would be underwater on the other side of the pier, and dove in. With his fists together like a battering ram, Greg thought if he hit the shark hard enough, he wouldn’t be interested in Jake and maybe let go of the dog. The water was murky and full of Jake’s blood by now. Greg managed to ram his fists onto something solid. “I thought I hit a piling. Then I realized it was the shark and I saw Jake. We all fell down to the bottom. Silt and blood were everywhere.”

When Greg surfaced and looked around, he saw no sign of Jake or the shark. He wanted to go back down. Then, Jake popped up alone and screamed, no longer gracefully swimming but frantically splashing straight for the shore, fighting for his life. 

Once Greg saw Jake, he too began furiously swimming for shore, knowing the shark was still out there, somewhere. “I could sense the shark’s presence and I just knew, until the tips of my feet were completely out of the water, that shark was going to get me,” said Greg.  “I had nightmares for weeks afterwards.”

By now, tourists had gathered along the shoreline, their mouths gaping wide in horror at what they had just witnessed. Greg reached down to comfort Jake, who began snapping back at him in pain. “It was a pitiful scene,” said Greg. He bent over the dog, telling him how sorry he was, and gently wrapped Jake up in a towel to carry him home.

As the two of them arrived home, they were still covered in Jake’s blood. Tess recalled it looked like a scene straight out of a Stephen King novel. They rushed Jake to the Upper Keys Veterinary Hospital, who had been alerted by Tess that they were on the way, and what had happened. A team was waiting for them when they arrived.

“Not a second was wasted,” said Greg. “They were so efficient. It was amazing.”

Veterinarian Suzanne Sigel and emergency on-call assistant Callie Cottrell attended to Jake’s wounds, which included punctures to his skin and some muscle along the abdomen, chest and back. Greg recalled that the bite marks were in the shape of an upside down smile. Jake also suffered lacerations on his right side and front left leg, his skin hanging like ribbons.

“Amazingly, Jake wasn’t critical,” said Dr. Sigel. Her main concern was that the dog may have inhaled saltwater when being pulled under, but there was no evidence of infection or pneumonia.

“He’s good at holding his breath underwater while swimming,” noted Greg.

Later, after examining his wounds, it was clear where the estimated five-foot shark’s original grip was with most of the damage around Jake’s belly. It was also clear that Greg’s punch had caused the shark to loosen his grip and then clamp back down on Jake. There was also evidence that Jake had fought back and bit the shark underwater. 

Jake has fully recovered and is fearless once again, although he suffered some flashbacks, including during a visit to a local sporting goods store. “Jake happened by the fish tanks and stopped to stare. Then he began shaking and crying,” said Greg.

“Jake is such a worthy little soul,” said Greg. “I have an extra soft spot in my heart for him now for my misjudgment. I owe him for the rest of his life.”

Photos, left to right: Greg, Tess and Jake. Salty dog, Jake. Cover of the spring 2009 issue of The New Barker. Artwork by Alli Bell.

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Part 2 Of Our 2-Part Complete List of Favorite Dog Movies

What’s your favorite dog movie of all time? In two blogs, The New Barker has listed our favorite dog movies. This is the second of the two movie lists.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite dog movies. This is the second of two blogs for a total of 33 movies: 14 in this blog and 19 in the first blog. The link to Part I of the list is at the bottom of this blog. The list, of course, does not include all dog movies ever made, just our favorites, for various reasons. We’d love to know your thoughts on any of the movies listed. Did you like them if you saw them? Have they been on your movie-watching radar, or had you forgotten about them until now? Is there a favorite movie of yours that we didn’t list? Please include in the comments section of the blog. During this time of staying home to stay healthy and safe, it’s our hope that, at least, our previews will keep you entertained.

LOYALTY

20. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Based on a true story of the love and devotion between a man and a dog, the 2009 film is a remake of the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Sarah Roemer, and Jason Alexander. Hachiko was a Japanese Akita remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, for whom he continued to wait at the train station over a nine-year period following his owner’s death. In Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, three dogs played the part of Hachi: Chico, Layla and Forrest, who passed December 19, 2017.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tales movie trailer

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21. Marley And Me. Our favorite dog movie list wouldn’t be complete without including Marley And Me. Directed by David Frankel, the 2008 film stars Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, and Alan Arkin. The movie is based on the best-selling book Marley And Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by journalist John Grogan, published in 2005. The story follows the 13 years John and his family spent with their yellow Labrador Retriever, Marley.

Side note: John Grogan was accepted as a fellow at the Poynter Institute of Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. After the fellowship, he was hired as a bureau reporter at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. In 2002, he joined The Philadelphia Inquirer as a columnist. In 2003, after Marley died at age thirteen, Grogan wrote a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer honoring his dog. It was the response from readers that inspired Grogan to write the book, after realizing he had a bigger story to tell. “I owed it to Marley to tell the rest of his story,” wrote Grogan.

There were 22 different dogs that played the part of Marley in the film. Clyde was the acting dog who received most of the screen time. He’d been adopted prior to filming from a shelter by Susan Wooley and Dean Kawaga. He received a $1,500 fee for doing the film and the couple donated the money to a local Labrador Retriever rescue group.

Marley And Me movie trailer

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22. Call of the Wild. Released in early 2020, the movie is based on the 1903 Jack London classic adventure novel of the same name. “Buck is a St. Bernard/Scotch Collie who finds his true heart in helping grizzled, hard-drinking prospector John Thornton (played by Harrison Ford) search for gold in the Yukon,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. He rates the movie “a cozy PG.” Directed by Chris Sanders, the movie also stars Omar Sy, Cara Gee, and Bradley Whitford. Buck, by the way, is computer-generated.

The Call of the Wild movie trailer

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23. Megan Leavey. Based on the true story of a young Marine and her best friend, the 2017-released film, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (who directed Blackfish), stars Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Ramon Rodriguez, and Tom Felton.

Meagan Leavey is a Marine corporal who has a unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog, Rex. Together, they saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq, on more than 100 missions between 2003 and 2006. A war zone blast of an IED left Leavey with hearing loss, brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Rex’s injuries included a damaged shoulder and neurological ailments. When Leavey was honorably discharged after a year of intense rehabilitation in California, Leavey asked to take Rex, who had also been undergoing rehab. Her request was denied. The movie tells the story of how Leavey fought to be reunited with Rex. “He had been my comfort for so long, and to not have that anymore was hard for me,” said Leavey. Varco, a German Shepherd Dog, made his feature film debut as Rex in the movie.

Megan Leavey movie trailer

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24. Togo The Untold True Story. The 2019 movie is about a sled dog, Togo, who led the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska. Directed by Ericson Core, the film stars Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, and Christopher Heyerdahl.

The dog that completed the run, Balto, received the fame and glory, but Togo was reportedly the real hero, running 264 miles of the route under the guidance of his trainer and musher Leonhard Sepal (Dafoe).

Side Note: Togo is a Disney film, and it’s interesting to note that studio executives clearly have a soft spot for rugged frontier tales of tough Arctic men and their canine companions from Iron Will to Snow Dogs to Eight Below.

Togo The Untold True Story movie trailer

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DOCUMENTARIES

25. Heart of a Dog. Performance artist Laurie Anderson strikes an emotional chord in this 2015 documentary reflecting on her relationship with her dog, Lolabelle. Animation and Super 8 footage lend personal texture to the documentary’s dreamy, healing fragments with Anderson’s soothing narration providing poetic perspective. Childhood trauma, the nature of storytelling, the transience of life and the release of love. David Foster wrote, “Every love story is a ghost story.”

Heart of a Dog movie trailer

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26. Life In The Doghouse. Two men. One mission. 10,000 lives. The inspiring story is about Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the remarkable work they do at Danny & Ron’s Rescue in Wellington, Florida. They began their rescue in 2005, after rescuing 600 dogs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They have since turned their own home into a sanctuary for abused or neglected dogs. They also deliver pet food and supplies to more than 48 elderly people living in poverty, and help pay for their dogs’ medical bills. They do it all through donations and fundraising efforts.

Life In The Doghouse movie trailer

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27. Old Dog. Director/producer Sally Rowe tells the story of New Zealand farmer Paul Sorenson and his unique connection with his colleagues – a team of sheep dogs. For 40 years Paul has worked to develop smarter and more intuitive training methods for fellow farmers. Reaching retirement, the veteran dog whisperer passes his knowledge to the next generation of shepherds, and reflects on the sacrifices he’s made to pursue his intense passion for dogs.

Old Dog, The Film movie trailer – scroll down for the link

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DARK COMEDY

28. Seven Psychopaths. Dog nappers, played by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, kidnap a gangster’s (played by Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu (played by Bonny the Shih Tzu, who has her own Facebook page).

Alongside his friends, struggling screenwriter (played by Colin Farrell) inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld. Directed by Martin McDonagh, the 2012 film also stars Michael Pitt, Harry Dean Stanton, Abbie Cornish, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Waits.

Spoiler alert: The dog does not die (although a lot of humans do).

Seven Psychopaths movie trailer

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29. The Dog Problem. Solo is a writer who has writer’s block after a successful first book. He’s ashamed, depressed and broke. His therapist suggests a pet. Clueless, he buys a dog, which only adds to his problems. Suddenly, everyone wants his dog. He could sell the dog to a persistent rich girl, settle his debts, and return to life with a clean carpet. Or, he could figure out why he suddenly doesn’t want to part with the dog. The 2007 movie was written and directed by Scott Caan who also stars in the film. Also starring Giovanni Ribisi, Lynn Collins, Mena Suvari, and Don Cheadle.

The Dog Problem movie trailer

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30. Our Idiot Brother. Ned (Paul Rudd) is the sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together. For sisters Liz (Emily Mortimer), Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), he’s an erstwhile organic farmer whose willingness to rely on the honesty of mankind is a less-than-optimum strategy for a tidy, trouble-free existence. Ned may be utterly lacking in common sense, but he is their brother and so, after his girlfriend dumps him and boots him off the farm, his sisters once again come to his rescue.

As Liz, Miranda and Natalie each take a turn at housing Ned, their brother’s unfailing commitment to honesty creates more than a few messes in their comfortable routines. But as each of their lives begins to unravel, Ned’s family comes to realize that maybe, in believing and trusting the people around him, Ned isn’t such an idiot after all. Released in 2011, and directed by Jesse Peretz, a subplot in the film involves Ned and his dog Willie Nelson, a Golden Retriever. Rashida Jones, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn also star in the film. It also has a nice soundtrack with a couple of songs performed by Willie Nelson (the singer/songwriter, not the dog).

Our Idiot Brother movie trailer

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FOR FUN

31. Annie. Released in 1982 and directed by John Huston, the film stars Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and Aileen Quinn as Annie. The musical comedy-drama film is based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Marti, an Otterhound, played Sandy the dog.

Side note: The dog who played Sandy in the Broadway musical was about to be euthanized when a young aspiring actor, William Berloni interning as a technical apprentice, found her at the shelter in Connecticut. He named her Sandy.

“Annie is the greatest American musical because it has not stopped being produced,” said Berloni. “It’s because it’s a message of hope and optimism.”

Another side note: Sarah Jessica Parker, at 14 years old, starred in the 1979 Broadway musical production of Annie.

Annie movie trailer

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32. Hotel For Dogs. Based on the book by Sarasota resident Lois Duncan, the movie was released in 2009. The cast includes Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Don Cheadle, and Cosmo as Friday the dog.

When their new guardians forbid 16-year old Andi and her younger brother, Bruce to have a pet, Andi has to use her quick wit to help find a new home for their dog, Friday. The resourceful kids stumble upon an abandoned hotel and using Bruce’s talents as a mechanical genius, transform it into a magical dog-paradise for Friday–and eventually for all Friday’s friends. When barking dogs make the neighbors suspicious, Andi and Bruce use every invention they have to avoid anyone discovering “who let the dogs in.”

Side note: We interviewed Ms. Duncan prior to the movie’s premier in 2009. The New Barker also hosted a red carpet event at the movie’s Tampa premier. Ms Duncan also wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). She hated the movie version, loosely based on her novel. “I was ecstatic until I settled into a theater seat with my box of popcorn and discovered that Hollywood had turned my teenage suspense story into s slasher film,” said Lois. She passed away on June 15, 2016.

Hotel For Dogs movie trailer

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33. The Ugly Dachshund. The 1966 Disney film, directed by Norman Tokar, stars Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette and Charles Ruggles.

Fran Garrison is all in a tizzy because her prize Dachshund, Danke, is having pups. She has hopes of one of the pups becoming a champion. But at the veterinarian’s office, Fran’s husband Mark is talked into letting Danke wet nurse a Great Dane pup that’s been abandoned by his mother. Mark ends up wanting to keep the Great Dane, now named Brutus. But, Brutus has this problem: he thinks he’s a Dachshund and he’s too big to be a lapdog. When Fran ridicules Brutus one too many times, Jim has a plan to prove to everyone (and Fran) that a great Dane can be far more than just an ugly Dachshund.

The Ugly Dachshund movie trailer

THE END

Part 1 of our Favorite Dog Movies, click here for the blog post.

The Captain And His Queen Of The World

By Anna Cooke. This story first appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of The New Barker.

Gliding through marshes and wetlands and leaning into the airboat’s every turn felt like a bird skimming the water in mid-flight. We sat up high in one of the two seats and sped across the water. It was both exhilarating and a little scary.

Remember the scene from the movie Titanic, when Jack and Rose are at the bow of the boat? Jack shouted, “I’m king of the world,” and convinced Rose to let go of the rail as the ship clipped through the ocean. But this was not the movies and there were no icebergs on our horizon. Fortunately, the very capable Captain Kevin Roderiques was at the helm, and he knew this was a first-time experience for his passenger. Still, I did not believe I would be letting go of the airboat’s rails anytime soon.

Handing over a set of dual-purpose headphones (sound-dampening and
microphone-equipped for conversation), Roderiques could see his passenger’s trepidation. His sixth sense as a law enforcement professional was spot-on.

“You’re not going to do some kind of 360 rollover like the Blue Angels do to a newbie in mid-flight are you?” I asked. His answer, a simple ‘no’ without an ounce of sarcasm in his voice, was reassuring through the headphones. It was also reassuring to know that we would be able to converse without yelling.

Another calming bonus was that Shey, a black Labrador Retriever, was accompanying us. This beautiful, shiny dog was not along just for the ride, however. In addition to showing off her prowess at remaining upright on all fours as the airboat angled every which way, Shey would be demonstrating her skills as a certified search and rescue K9. She works with the Florida-3 Airboat Search and Rescue Team (FL3ASAR), and has been cross-trained for cadaver and live search and rescue.

The FL3ASAR team is a group made up of law enforcement, fire, rescue and EMS professionals, many of whom have had prior military experience. While the ride with Shey was in and of itself breathtaking, it was amazing to find out that this team is an all-volunteer group relying on donations to keep operating. Oftentimes, however, the dedicated group will use their own money to continue their mission of saving the lives of people and animals stranded as a result of a man-made or natural disaster.

FL3ASAR was created soon after the flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Working under the direction of FEMA, many members of FL3ASAR witnessed firsthand the airboat’s capabilities as they were being used to evacuate thousands of people stranded due to urban area flooding. The airboat, it turns out, is the most efficient means of mass rescue during floods, capable of delivering thousands of pounds of feed to stranded livestock. Unlike other rescue devices, an airboat has no moving parts below the waterline, allowing it to maneuver through fields of debris. Moving almost effortlessly in extreme conditions, airboats can navigate turbulent and shallow water, and even over dry land if necessary.

Since Katrina, FL3ASAR has responded to calls for service beyond the scope of flood evacuation, having evolved into a full service search and rescue operation. The FL3ASAR airboats are especially equipped with 3D side scan sonar, underwater video equipment, GPS and special communications equipment. All of the airboat operators are licensed United States Coast Guard captains. They have also completed a U.S. Department of Interior-approved airboat operations course.

People often fail to prepare for a natural or man-made disaster, resulting in animals being left behind during an evacuation. Since Hurricane Katrina, lessons have been learned and more shelters are allowing people to bring their pets. However, domestic livestock are also at risk during natural disasters, swept away by strong currents as they naturally seek higher ground. If they do reach what are known as island farms, they become stranded, succumbing to disease or starvation.

Through a private grant in 2010, FL3ASAR was able to take delivery of a 20-foot airboat, manufactured by Diamondback Airboats and customized for animal rescue efforts in flooded areas. It’s the only one of its kind in the United States. The new Animal Rescue Team airboat has a three-rudder system instead of the normal two, with only one row of seats instead of the normal two. The three-rudder system allows for better steerage and the removal of the front seat provides added deck space for a larger working area and more animal cage storage. The drop-down “Grass Rake” facilitates the transportation, delivery and retrieval of necessary supplies and/or equipment for animal rescue.

“I can carry up to 4,000 pounds of feed in this boat,” said Captain Roderiques. “We can even rescue a manatee if need be,” he added.

The Animal Rescue Team is available to state and federal agricultural and wildlife agencies; national, state and local humane societies; and veterinary organizations. Captain Roderiques, who is also the Team Commander, said that FL3ASAR can be deployed within 24 hours.

Working on land or water, Shey is capable of performing live finds — tracking a live person’s trail for miles. She is also trained in human remains detection (HRD). When on water-based missions, she is equipped with a floatation device, performing her duties directly from the bow of the airboat. She has also been trained to perform as a rescue swimmer, capable of towing people back to the boat or shore.

During our trip, Captain Roderiques continued to point out what Shey was doing at any given moment, while describing the intricacies of search and rescue. She leaned into the wind, discerning the different smells. She scanned the banks for clues, working hard, and ready to alert at any given moment.

As we pulled up to the banks to disembark, I realized I had not taken one note for my story. During the trip, Shey would occasionally turn her big, beautiful head to look back at me, giving me that mischievous Labrador smile. She was probably laughing at me. The only time I let go of the rails was to grab my camera with one hand to snap a few quick photos of her. Otherwise, it was pretty much a white-knuckle excursion for me, while Shey effortlessly did a job she clearly loved doing.

Editor’s Note: Shey passed away several years ago. Captain Kevin Roderiques, K-9 Sergeant for the Tampa Airport Police Department, is now retired.