RANGER ~ In Loving Memory
October 15, 2000 ~ August 25, 2012
Partnered with Deresa Teller
Los Angeles Fire Department, California Task Force 1
Ranger, a male Border Collie, was born on October 15, 2000 with all the characteristics of a Disaster Search Dog. Recognizing this, his owner, Deresa Teller, decided to donate him to the Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to receive professional training.
Ranger was placed with volunteer Rosemary Schumacher for his Canine Prep Home stay to learn basic obedience. He soon went on to his training course at our Sundowners Kennel in Gilroy, California. After six months, Ranger was ready to be partnered with his new handler.
Deresa Teller is a paramedic for the Los Angeles City Fire Department and an experienced Search Dog Handler. Deresa and her first Search Dog, Bella, were deployed to the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, and were part of the group of SDF-trained Search Teams that responded to the call from Ground Zero, searching for survivors for days after the September 11th tragedy.
Bella was getting close to retirement, so Deresa was on the lookout for a new SDF canine partner. SDF can rarely partner a newly trained Disaster Search Dog from our program with its previous owner. This is because our success in preparing a dog for the important and demanding job of saving lives depends to a great extent on instilling a whole new set of behaviors in the dog, and on pairing the dog with the optimal partner. Therefore, Deresa didn't have high hopes of being paired with Ranger.
But at the end of his six-month training program, guess who was found to be the best fit for Ranger… Deresa!
Ranger loved being back home with Deresa and her two daughters in Simi Valley. Their bond and friendship were stronger than ever. They trained every week with the other canine-handler teams in their training group. Their schedule demanded they continually work on search-and-rescue skills to be ready to help anytime, anywhere.
Ranger had boundless energy, a real sign of a great Search Dog. He always showed he had what it takes to be a part of this demanding career. His drive to get his toy was always strong. This trait is important in SDF Search Dogs because a tug-toy serves as the reward for a job well done in our training program. Ranger also developed quite a "bark alert" – the bark sounded when finding a victim in need of immediate attention from firefighters. These skills are part of what made him such a great Search Dog!
After attaining Advanced Certification from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ranger and Deresa were deployed three times in 2005: In January, they were deployed along with eight other SDF teams to help with rescue efforts at a deadly mudslide in La Conchita, California. In August and September, they were sent to help with rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. For years they were one of SDF's top Canine-Handler Disaster Search Teams, among the most highly skilled teams in the nation.
Over the course of his career, Ranger was generously sponsored by the Allstate Insurance Foundation, the Rotary Club of Simi Sunset, and CFWC Women’s Fortnighly Club.
After a battle with cancer, Ranger peacefully crossed the Rainbow Bridge on August 25, 2012, with Deresa and her family by his side.
In Deresa’s Words…
When Ranger was a pup of about 6 or 7 weeks, it was the end of November and I was starting to get out my decorations for the holidays. He followed me into the storage area under my kitchen area and was "assisting me" by pulling on boxes and other festive "toys." I thought to myself that I needed to call Ms. Wilma and tell her about this amazing pup. I brought him with me to John and Wilma's holiday party and everyone fell in love with this wild boy. Rosemary Schumacher was there and stepped up to be his puppy raiser. She did a fantastic job, even leaving a fallen tree in her yard so Ranger would have a jungle gym to play on.
Ranger and I were paired up about 18 months after he left my home, and what a blast it was to have such a great dog in my life. He was such an incredible Search Dog, and that was his true passion in life. When he would search a rubble pile for a test or training in front of people who had not seen him before, they would always ask me, "Where did you get this dog?" and "Do you breed any more?"
When we would travel by plane and Ranger would wear his Search Dog vest, he would often go and smell certain people's luggage. Of course they would ask me "What does he search for?" And me being me, I would tell them he searches for drugs! The looks those people would get were sometimes priceless, but I would let them suffer for only a few seconds before telling them that he loves cats and they probably had a cat that helped them with their carry-on luggage. Laughter quickly replaced the stares and the person-in-question would say that their cat(s) love to sit in their luggage.
Something most people didn't know about Ranger was the special bond he had with my 19-year-old daughter, Jesa. Jesa was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 8 years old. Ranger became part of our household when Jesa was 10. I was divorced at that time and on the nights Jesa stayed at my house, Ranger always slept in her room. Even though Jesa was very aware of the diabetes and would wake up if her blood sugar started to drop during her sleep, Ranger would start jumping on and off her bed. She knew if that was happening she needed to get up, check her blood sugar and get a snack. Talk about an amazing boy!
Being a Border Collie, Ranger of course loved to herd other animals. When he was assigned to me and came to live with us, we had goats. He would run around his favorite pine tree that was next to the goat pen so much to watch the goats, a large circle or moat was developed around it. He also would climb this tree so he could watch the goats from a different angle. He would also herd the chickens, cats and any small dog that would come to visit. In his golden years he also herded the tortoises, and would nip at them if they weren't moving fast enough.
He was always a crowd pleaser at any SDF event we went to, and was extra gentle with any children. Now the flip side of him, and you men all know who you are, sorry about the ball-busting he did to you. I told you what position to assume when he brought you his tug-toy! And I did NOT train him to do that!
Ranger's last day was filled with some of his favorite things. A short walk with mom, a little direction control, some "bunny vision" - he was actually let in with the bunnies instead of watching from the outside - a trip to the duck park. And not only were Jesa, Calena, Carrie, and myself there, but his most fascinating cat "Kittypants" ( I don't know why he finds this cat so amazing) came along with him to the vet to send him on his journey.
We will certainly miss this fantastic dog. He was a great partner and friend.