Tribute

We search to rectify the losses of others, a goal so at the center of who we are and what we do that we're sometimes startled by our own vulnerability. Loss happens for us, too.

A search dog's working life is fairly finite, and for every dog who serves, there is a moment when he or she is no longer strong enough for the rigors of the work. The steep inclines, the unstable terrain, the summer searches in 100+ degrees; all take their toll over time. We like to think that jointly handler and canine decide when it's time for a good dog to relax as a much-loved, couch-potato retiree. We have a few of them in our own history. MARK9 honors our retired seniors who have given the best years of their lives in service to humankind.

Sometimes our losses are more permanent, and our friends and colleagues leave us without warning — without ever enough time for the thank-yous they deserve. We grieve their departure. We miss them still. And we celebrate the courage and spirit that remain.

 

Mercy

Breed:
White German Shepherd
Born:
July 1, 2001
Certifications:
Wilderness, Urban, Disaster, Scent Discrimination, Water, Cadaver Recovery
Awards:
Award of Recognition, Plano Police Department, for her participation in childrens' safety education

Description:
Registered AKC Jewel of Mercy, this girl also answers to "Lord have Mercy." Mercy is a white German Shepherd in name only during the rainy season, at which time she is affectionately known as the bog dog. She loves playing in the mud almost as much as she loves to search. Her first two weeks in the family, she permanently endeared herself by removing all "unnecessary" shrubs and trees from her back yard. She loves people, gives great kisses and loves to have her back scratched, especially by those humans with fingernails. Her drive to search is matched only by her love of racing cars down her fence line. Normally she wins.

 

Misty

Breed:
Roughcoat Collie, Sable
Born:
January 22, 2003
Certifications:
Wilderness, Urban, Disaster, Scent Discrimination, Water, Cadaver Recovery

Description:
Misty (Lady Highland Mist II) is the team's "party girl" who acts as if nothing wonderful happens until she arrives. This lovely Collie is a local lass, born to a Proffitts Princely Dallas X Proffitts Precious Lady Love litter. She loves everyone and is equally happy searching, doing presentations or just meeting and greeting. Misty certified in August 2005 for Urban, Disaster and Wilderness search, attacking training problems with not only drive but unrestrained joy. She lives with her family of humans and search dogs and is the primary instigator of most play and even some mischief. True to her ladylike name, she loves her creature comforts, trying to roll in roses, getting underfoot when perfume is being applied so she can also "smell pretty" and attempting to join her humans in the tub when they take the fun baths with bubbles.

 

Hunter

Breed:
German Shepherd

Description:
One of the founding dogs of Mark9, Hunter, a male German Shepherd, was one of Mark9's "second chance" dogs, having been rescued at 18 months of age, just two days before he was due to be put to sleep. Hunter repaid the favor by becoming a SAR dog, searching for others. This rescued dog, given up because he was "too big and too active" spent years rescuing others, and he did it his own way — fast, faster, and fastest.
Hunter was the longtime partner of Max Kirk, and one of the founding members of Mark9, passed away at age 15 Wednesday evening in his yard with both Max and Fleta present. He was laid to rest at his favorite training spot, the Dallas Fire Department's Training Academy, in early May 2007.

During his ten-year career, Mark9 averaged between 25 and 35 calls a year and Hunter made most of them. He was a member of Mark9, an original member of TXTF1, and a member of 1SRG, was inducted into the Oklahoma Veterinary Animal Hall of Fame and was a runner up for AKC's Ace Award for Search and Rescue. He searched in Moore,OK after the tornado, in Fort Worth after that tornado, in Del Rio after the flooding, in east Texas after the Columbia space shuttle tragedy and in countless other equally important though lesser known searches throughout North Texas. And he was recognized by police departments and schools for the work he did in children's education.

He's remembered for his big heart and even bigger, sloppier kisses. But his greatest gift is his love and loyalty to his human family and the other search dogs he lived with.

Godspeed, Hunter. You'll be missed.

 

Saber

Breed:
Rough Collie, Sable
Born:
June 28,, 1994
Hander:
Fleta Kirk
Certifications:
Wilderness, Urban, Disaster, Scent Discrimination, Water, Cadaver Recovery, Article, and Basic Trailing
Awards:
2004 AKC ACE Award for Search and Rescue, Oklahoma Veterinary Animal Hall of Fame, Recognized by Plano Police Department for his work in Children's Education

Description:
For those who knew him, Saber, the longtime partner of Fleta Kirk, and one of the founding members of Mark9, passed away three weeks short of his 16th birthday. During his long career, Mark9 averaged between 25 and 35 calls a year and Saber missed only a few of them. He was a member of Mark9, an original member of TXTF1, and a member of 1SRG. Saber was inducted into the Oklahoma Veterinary Animal Hall of Fame and was AKC's Ace Award winner for Search and Rescue in 2004. He searched in Moore, OK after the tornado, in Fort Worth after that tornado, in Del Rio after the flooding, in east Texas after the Columbia space shuttle tragedy and in countless other equally important though lesser-known searches throughout North Texas. And he was recognized by police departments and schools for the work he did in children's education. Saber was cross-trained through the Delta Society as a visitation dog and was a frequent sight at nursing and assisted living homes.

Fleta writes: "When I first started in search and rescue, I was under the impression that I would be training Saber. He quickly realized how inept I was and told me in his own way, Let me show you how we're going to do this. Then we started developing a children's education program, writing in Saber's role. Again he told me, Let me show you how we're going to do this. During his almost 10-year career, I can't count the number of times Saber had to show me "how we're going to do this." And the humbling thing is most of the time, if one of us was wrong, it wasn't Saber. Late one Saturday night, I saw that look in his eyes and knew that Monday I would have to talk to the vet. Sunday, one last time, Saber said, Let me show you how we're going to do this. Saber died at home, and died as he lived—in a quiet manner passing from this life without fanfare but with Collie dignity."

 

Shadow

Breed:
Siberian Husky
Born:
December 31, 1996
Handler:
Jerry Seevers
Certifications:
Wilderness, Urban, Disaster, Water, Cadaver Recovery
Special Affiliations:
MARK9, First Special Response Group (Int'l SAR) and (former) Texas Task Force 1

Awards:
Recognized by various police departments in Texas and Oklahoma as well as NASA. Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association Pet Hall of Fame.

Description:
Jerry remembers each time one of the SAR dog gurus told him that "Huskies cannot do this kind of work" and "Huskies do not want to work for humans like other breeds do". He also remembers the stories about Togo and Balto, who led their dog teams through some of the worst weather ever recorded in Alaska to save the people of Nome from the diptheria epidemic. Shadow, another strong, big-hearted, tough and intelligent Husky, was one of the original dogs with MARK9. She was a special girl with drive matched only by her rather sophisticated, elegant personality. Shadow was featured on the Animal Planet program Breed All About It — Siberian Huskies. Shadow was highly-visible and extremely popular with the public for her good looks, easy sociability, and "I've got it covered" attitude.

 

Natasha

Breed:
German Shepherd
Handler:
William Martinez

Description:

 

Kane

Breed:
Doberman Pincer
Handler:
Christian Hornbeck

Description:
Kane was a beautiful blue Dobe. He started his job in SAR when he was 3 yrs old.  Kane started his SAR journey in California and trained a lot in the mountains where he also got to do a lot of camping. One thing he loved to do was lay down in mud puddles and drink the water. Eventually, he moved to Texas where he became certified to go on real searches. He was always ready to go no matter the time of day or night. When Kane was 8 yrs old he got a disease called Wobblers Syndrome and had to retire. This still didn't keep him down as he still looked forward to daily walks and even playing ball when he could.