National Disaster Search Dog FoundationSEARCH DOG FOUNDATION - From Rescued to Rescuer
In December of 2007, the East Bay SPCA called Julia Ford, a woman who rescues dogs and trains them for Drug and Explosive Detection.

They thought she might be interested in an unruly Chocolate Lab named Huckleberry Hound. Although she liked what she saw, he was too possessive of his toys to make it in that line of work. Julie knew that if she did not take him then and there, the chances of a dog like this making it out of the shelter were slim, so she gave SDF a call. Handler Al Duncan tested the dog, who passed with flying colors.

It was arranged that SDF volunteer Ellen Paiva would pick up Huckleberry at the shelter and take him to Sundowners Kennelto begin SDF's training program. His name was shortened to "Huck," and his new career began.

Not long into his stay at Sundowners, the trainers started to think they were going crazy. Huck kept turning up in other kennels, not the one they'd placed him in. Lo and behold, they discovered that Huck could undo latches, open gates and climb fences. But he didn't go anywhere -- he just visited other dogs at the kennel, often going back to his own kennel before being caught!

After eight months of professional training, in November of 2008 Huck was partnered with Oklahoma City Firefighter and FEMA Canine Coordinator Brent Koeninger. Huck and Brent trained together for 3 years, but Brent felt they did not have the right partnership and that Huck might be more successful with someone else. So, Brent made the difficult decision, along with SDF trainers, to return Huck to SDF so he could be partnered with another handler.

In August of 2012, after several months of reconditioning at Sundowners Kennel, Huck was paired with veteran handler Deresa Teller of California Task Force 1. Huck is Deresa's fourth career Search Dog as a member of Los Angeles City Fire. Huck has gone home to Simi Valley with Deresa, and the team will train daily in preparation to achieve FEMA Certification early in 2013.