Rescue Dogs of the Oso, WA Landslide – Part 2

In the past few days Seattle’s KUOW 94.9 and KCTS 9 have featured interviews with those most affected by the Oso, WA landslide, which just six months ago (March 29, 2014) devastated an entire community 60 miles northeast of Seattle. I remember hearing descriptions on the news of rescue workers searching for victims in the huge debris field–conditions were extremely dangerous and the going was rough.

FEMA search dog onsite to help find victims of the Oso, WA Landslide.

FEMA search dog onsite to help find victims of the Oso, WA Landslide.

Highly trained search dogs from across WA and the country were flown in to help guide the search for victims.

Governor Jay Inslee acknowledges a tired search dog with a scratch behind the ears.

WA Governor Jay Inslee acknowledges a tired search dog with a scratch behind the ears.

Soon news reports about the dogs and their skill began to pour out of the area. Not only were the search dogs helping in the disaster zone, but “trauma dogs” were onsite in shelters to provide support to worried, grieving survivors as well as exhausted workers.




Fire fighters were critical to the search and recovery mission.

Fire fighters were critically important to the search and recovery mission.

I collected photos of the dogs featured in news stories and saved them on my desktop. I found comfort in knowing they were in Oso helping on so many levels. I post them now with respect for their meaningful contributions and to acknowledge their key role in the recovery mission.

Spending a moment with an understanding friend.

Spending a moment with an understanding friend.

Helping to keep spirits up at the command center.

Helping to keep spirits up at the command center.


Leaving a door open for dogs, Mary Oliver brings joy to a classroom

Harry Potter, a Corgi with The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dog group, heading in to provide stress relief to law students.

Harry Potter, a Corgi with The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dog group, waits to meet students and staff at Chapman University Law School for some stress relief during finals week. Read about it here:

The Poetry Teacher
by Mary Oliver

The university gave me a new, elegant
classroom to teach in. Only one thing,
they said. You can’t bring your dog.
It’s in my contract, I said. (I had
made sure of that.)

We bargained and I moved to an old
classroom in an old building. Propped
the door open. Kept a bowl of water
in the room. I could hear Ben among
other voices barking, howling in the
distance. Then they would all arrive—
Ben, his pals, maybe an unknown dog
or two, all of them thirsty and happy.
They drank, they flung themselves down
among the students. The students loved
it. They all wrote thirsty, happy poems.

For absolutely nothing but joy.

Joyful dog with tennis ball. Photo:

Try this: Spend time with a dog and a ball at the beach for “absolutely nothing but joy.”

The Dogs at Live Oak Beach, Santa Cruz

By Alicia Ostriker

As if there could be a world
Of absolute innocence
In which we forget ourselves

The owners throw sticks
And half-bald tennis balls
Toward the surf
And the happy dogs leap after them
As if catapulted—

Black dogs, tan dogs,
Tubes of glorious muscle—

Pursuing pleasure
More than obedience
They race, skid to a halt in the wet sand,
Sometimes they’ll plunge straight into
The foaming breakers

Like diving birds, letting the green turbulence
Toss them, until they snap and sink

Teeth into floating wood
Then bound back to their owners
Shining wet, with passionate speed
For nothing,
For absolutely nothing but joy.

In just a few short hours..

At 11:30 a.m. today–just a few short hours from now here in Seattle–Luna the WonderDog and I will head to the vet for her “final check-up”. The vet will examine her to see how well her TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) has healed.  On July 26, about three months ago, she went “under the knife” so that her ruptured (translation: completely destroyed) cranial cruciate ligament could be removed and her tibia “leveled off” to provide her a more stable rear right knee.

I believe he will be very pleased with the results: Both Luna and I are.  She is walking without a limp, smiling in her old way, and seems younger, more vital to my eye. I also am smiling in my old way and I, too, seem younger, more vital having now “survived” this experience.

This blog is about the journey leading up to the TPLO procedure and about Luna’s recovery. I invite you to join me in the next few days and couple of weeks as I look back on the path that led us to this happier place. Luna will be at my feet as I write, as she is now, comforting me with her sleepy sighs. She may weigh-in here with her point of view now and then, too.

I also hope that you will weigh-in with your point-of-view, your experience, your questions. Perhaps this conversation will be helpful to someone else facing the same kind of dilemma.

The questions that troubled me for a few weeks as I decided whether to get the surgery for Luna most certainly have troubled others:  Should I get this surgery done? How should I go about making this serious decision? What criteria should I use? Can I afford to do this?

Is there a way to find out what Luna thinks about this? What would she do? How “up for this” is my dog with a gentle heart and sensitive spirit? She’s “dialed in” to the universe– she must have a feeling about this. (Luna’s adoption ad described her as a “Zen-doggie”, which proved to be an apt description. She has become only more so as she has aged into the glory of her senior years.)

What do I need to do to prepare in case things do not go well? What if I am faced with heartbreaking decisions because things “go south” after the surgery? Where will I find guidance and support? How will I know what Luna prefers to do if something goes wrong?

I hope you return later today, perhaps tomorrow, or the next day to join in the conversation.