From our friends at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation...
Evaluated as a potential Search Dog, Duke passed the tests with ease. He was soon brought to the home of Debra Tosch, SDF's Executive Director, in Ojai, California where he lived for two months. Debra prepared him for his official training program at Sundowners Kennel, the facility in Gilroy, California where all SDF dogs train.
Duke was paired with his handler Howard Orr, a firefighter with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, in 1999 - where he found a real home and they became a valuable team. Duke and Howard were loyal partners on the job and formed a strong bond through their continual training schedule. This schedule meant they trained every week with the other canines and handlers in their SDF Training Group. They worked continuously on search and rescue skills, maintaining top form so they would be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice. They also achieved Advanced Certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), making them able to respond across the nation as a Canine Disaster Search Team.
|Howard Orr and Duke|
After many years of searching, Duke retired to spend time with Howard and his family at home in Thousand Oaks, CA. He still loved his toys and an easy search every now and then, but certainly enjoyed his retirement.
After struggling for months with several health issues, Duke crossed the Rainbow Bridge on August 8, 2011, with Howard by his side. As one of the founding teams in the Southern California area, Howard & Duke helped form the solid foundation that many of our current Search Teams have relied on when first beginning their journeys as disaster search canine handlers. Duke will be greatly missed by those that knew and worked with him as well as those that may never have met this great dog but admired his work from afar. Duke’s pawprints will be big ones to fill and we will all miss him immensely.
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To learn more about these amazing search dogs and their handlers, please visit:
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department