Hero Dog Sage Sniffs Out Survivors In her ten years as a search and rescue dog, border collie Sage has been through more major moments in modern history than a high school textbook. She’s lent her help during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and even gone abroad searching for missing people. Search and rescue dogs like Sage are a key part of the 28 FEMA urban search and rescue task forces in America, and have seen us through countless catastrophes. Her owner Kathy O’Dette recently talked with us about her superstar pooch’s many missions. No matter the assignment, this heroic dog is always on hand to save the day.
Animal Fair: How did you become Sage’s parent?
Kathy O’Dette: Sage is my second border collie and third search and rescue dog. She came from the Lydeardlea breeder in England. I chose Lydeardlea for their strong breeding program that includes extensive health screening for their breeding dogs. This was important to me because I was planning on investing huge amounts of time training my dog for the serious job of saving lives. Sage would have to work in hot, cold, loud and unpredictable environments. That’s a lot to ask of a little dog, but Sage has stepped up to the task at hand no matter where the job has taken us.
Animal Fair: Why did you name your dog Sage?
Kathy O’Dette: The name Sage came out of a road trip to Taos, New Mexico. I was new to the Southwest and, as I watched a tumbleweed blow across the road, I noticed all of the beautiful sage growing along side the road and into the desert. I decided then to name my next dog Sage. I knew that the word “sage” meant marked wisdom, experience and calm judgment. Sage has proven to have all of those traits.
Animal Fair: How did your dog become such a hero?
Kathy O’Dette: Sage was first called to duty when she was only two years old, when we were attacked by terrorists on 9/11. Sage served heroically at the Pentagon, where her keen skills allowed her to detect and alert on the terrorist that had flown American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon. In 2005, Sage searched for survivors in Mississippi after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Also in 2005, she was called to Aruba to search for clues in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. In 2007, Sage was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a type of cancer that was rarely seen in dogs and presumed to be the result of her serving our country in so many toxic sites. Sage has had two major surgeries and has lost two lung lobes, but she is still going strong. She visits a children’s cancer camp and walks in Relay For Life events, sharing her zest for life with other cancer survivors. Sage also visits schools and churches in hopes that, through educational programs, we can teach children and adults alike of the wonderful service that dogs provide us every day. We want everyone to recognize that there are canine heroes all around us serving us every day, and to teach people that all animals deserve humane care and love. They are our best friends and we owe it to them to return the favor.
Animal Fair: Can you tell us a little about your charity?
Kathy O’Dette: The Sage Foundation For Dogs Who Serve was formed to promote the welfare of dogs who have faithfully served, often in harm’s way. Search and rescue dogs save lives, drug-sniffing dogs help police keep our streets clean of drugs and military working dogs keep our soldiers safe all over the world.
Animal Fair: What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning with Sage?
Kathy O’Dette: Sage loves to go on walks, but her favorite thing in the whole world is her Frisbee. We have Frisbee time every day and Sage loves it.
Animal Fair: If Sage were a celebrity, who would she be?
Kathy O’Dette: Sage would be a cross between John Wayne and Oprah Winfrey. John Wayne because he was always brave, he was tough as nails and he was always the good guy in the movies. Having said that, Sage is also like Oprah because she is kind, playful and extremely intelligent. Also like Oprah, she takes on every venture with the zest of a champion, and excels at all that she does.
Animal Fair: What is your hope for her legacy?
Kathy O’Dette: The Sage Foundation For Dogs Who Serve will be Sage’s legacy. Sage would have it no other way! Learn more about Sage’s charity at sagefoundationfordogs.org!
Be sure to catch them November 11, 2011 on Hallmark Channel’s and the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards click here.