During Maryland Task Force One’s deployment to Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, several of the team were injured, among them My Captain.
Don’t worry, he’ll live to rescue another day.
But unfortunately, another task force team member who was injured more seriously, has a long road of recovery ahead of him.
His name is Fonzie.
Fonzie and his handler, Victoria, had a harrowing ride during the week of the storm.
Fonzie’s paw got stuck under a metal door, and he cut the tendon and flesh of one of his toes. He bled all over the place, and it looks like he will lose his toe.
This is a big deal. Fonzie is not just a ‘dog.’
He’s a true search and rescuer, with extensive training (to the tune of about $15,000!). He relies on his paws…and all the toes therein…to climb through rubble piles where humans could not.
Like Pierce here (with his handler, and all around great guy, Mike). A dog’s toes are of the utmost importance when they are in search mode.
Except here. Here he doesn’t need his toes so much.
Fonzie’s primary job is to sniff out live victims. When he smells the scent of life, he knows to start barking like there is no tomorrow and NOT stop until someone comes.
….yes, just like Lassie.
Victoria has been with Fonzie since he graduated search and rescue training. He goes with her wherever she goes.
They are with each other 24/7. He’s not a pet. He’s not a co-worker. He’s part of her life!
Victoria is a firefighter, an EMT, Fonzie’s handler,
and a wonderful wife (to hunk of a husband and Frederick Police Chief, Tom). But what amazes me (as if all of that is not enough…) is that throughout ALL of this, she maintains her true femininity (unlike your dear writer).
I’m serious. I look at her face and I think, ‘Va Va Voom!’. She’s got the classic female lines…fantastic eyes…kick ass smile…exudes confidence and strength.
I want to be her. Somebody make that happen for God’s sake.
Back to the deployment to New York and New Jersey a couple of weeks ago…. Victoria says that while Fonzie did not have any saves this deployment, per se, he did absolutely make a difference. How? Apparently the victims would see Fonzie and get down on their knees and just bury their faces into his neck, sobbing with grief. And Fonzie comforted as only a dog can. She said Fonzie was the biggest balm I could possibly imagine.
I had never considered that. But it certainly makes sense, doesn’t it?
To be a handler of a true Search and Rescue Canine requires an unbelievable amount of commitment and training. Victoria’s life is so damn full, I wondered why she does it.
And then it struck me… She does it for two reasons. 1) Because she has the very selfless heart of a hero, and 2.)