Jul 192016

Up at three-thirty a.m. for a fire call, home at five. Couldn’t sleep. Dawn is my favorite time of day, and there’s much to ponder.

Mayzie as a puppy (2012)

Mayzie as a puppy (2012)

The elephant in the room inside my head is the intensity of disappointment that comes with what happened last Thursday: Mayzie, aka Amazing Grace, my beautiful German shepherd dog, tested, and failed, and was released from the training program of our SAR unit. After two and a half years and 250+ training trails, she will not move forward, will never be “mission ready,” will no longer get to go to work.

The decision is apt, hard though it is. Mayzie is a very good SAR dog — but not great. Not reliable enough to be able to go out in the rain at 2 a.m. to find a missing toddler. That’s what our dogs need to be able and ready to go do. I understand and respect the need for that level of capability.

Landing Zone training (2015)

But that doesn’t ease the gut-wrench of trying, of working really, really hard to make us the best team she and I could be to earn the chance to reach that magical status where she could help someone in distress for real. Even though I agree that it’s the right decision for Mayzie, the passage from eligible to sidelined is a damned wretched trip, filled with sadness.

So, my readers, this is the news: Mayzie is retired.

SAR Partners (2015)

SAR Partners (2015)

On the scale of world events that are increasingly horrific by the day (Orlando, Nice, who-knows-where today), my disappointment is a small thing. But it is big to me, and it will be honored, and then let go. It’ll take time. My friends and family and SAR colleagues are there for me. Although such a personal disappointment as this feels immense to me (and to others central to it), it’s a big universe, and we each play only a bit part in our brief time here on this planet. This will pass.

Comin’ at you! (2014)

Comin’ at you! (2014)

The trick is the transition, because I’ll still be going to K9 trainings, working with other teams to build their capabilities. I am not going to quit because Team Mayzie has gone quiet. There is a larger team here, and dogs coming along who have great promise. I love the role of flanker — I loved it before I got Mayzie, and even considered not even getting a K9 for awhile, until she came along. I am a member of a team which can benefit from eyes honed to watch canine search behaviors, assist handlers to recognize those subtle communications that can spell the difference between finding that toddler out in the night rain, or not. Being an asset to a team isn’t only about getting your own way; it’s about getting the team to be its best, and I know I can help do that. Will do that. Have to do that.

On Trail (2014)

On Trail (2014)

Meanwhile, Mayzie can be my friend, that soul who is always happy to see me, who loves me without judgment or accusation that maybe I should have done better at helping her learn the craft of searching. Having her in my life is saying a lot, actually. She doesn’t know she “failed.” She doesn’t know that fun game we’ve done for 2-1/2 years is over. She’s fine, and will continue to be the canine love of my life. We’ll be ok, once the sting of all this fades.

Partners (2014)

  16 Responses to “Hard News”

  1. Kate, What an amazing tribute you wrote .. just so beautifully expressed..My heart is with you as you take her down a new path. She is very special as are you. Doors close and new ones always open… her story is still being written. . we will look forward to reading your next chapter,

  2. Kate – So sorry for your disappointment and the end to this particular journey. She is an amazing dog and you make an incredible pair so I hope you look for another open door to go through. Even though she may not be capable of doing the job you were hoping for, surely there are other jobs she would be truly incredible for. Praying for peace for you both and options to present themselves. Don’t give up.. although I know you won’t!

  3. So many folks here have expressed it better than I ever could. I feel your pain and disappointment, and send you both my very best wishes.

  4. Hi Kate,
    sorry to read this.
    When I saw the headline, my fear was Mayzie has something and you have to put her down. In that light reading the hard news was sad, disappointing for you and your work of 2 1/2 years, I totally understand that, but Mayzie is healthy and will be your friend for hopefully many more years to come. And as you said, you are disappointed about the outcome, but will move on. I love your attitude!! Sure do!

  5. Oh Kate – I am sorry to hear the sadness and disappointment in your voice. The dreams associated with this will begin to take on new forms as you process the new reality. Your tenderness in addressing the deep emotions is powerful. Your commitment to Mayzie is wonderful because of course she adores you. Rest easy for a moment. My prayers are with you.

  6. Hi Kate- so sorry to hear of your disappontment. What a cool thing to aspire to! Best wishes to you as you continue to support others in their quest?

  7. I’m so sorry Kate. Sometimes the worst disappointments demand honest reflection and resolution. You have an honest heart and will find better ways to serve your team and honor your loyal companion. What a beautiful animal – with a heart of gold I bet!

  8. Kate, I just read this to Tom, interesting reading it aloud. It seemed more real, more perament and my voice cracked along the way. I think of your search and rescue plans around the world. I see your brothers tears. I hold your heart tightly in prayer. To what might have been and to what lies ahead. Love you honey.xxoo

  9. Kate, so sorry! I know how hard you and Mayzie have worked and looked forward to working SAR. Writing this essay must have torn at your heart. But as you wrote, Mayzie doesn’t know all the details of the test and will still give you all her best. Enjoy your time together and enjoy your role as flanker.

  10. Your honesty and strength in facing your feelings and then your willingness to share them with us honors and touches me. Mayzie is a great dog, and is a great companion and friend. Enjoy her early retirement!

  11. Wow, Kate. This just really took me right in. I cannot say I know exactly what you are feeling but I am a pretty empathic person. I cannot help but feel that there is something very big and special awaiting you and Mayzie. Maybe it is not a failure at all but instead, a change of direction.

  12. Kate, I can only imagine the feelings you are experiencing over this major disappointment – so sorry.
    However, she is a great and wonderful companion and her purpose is to be just that for you. Aren’t we fortunate to have a creature that is so part of our life? They are family.

  13. Kate, you and Mayzie are (and always will be) partners in the trials and tribulations of life’s journeys. Thanks for sharing this essay which is deep from the heart. Time will heal and she will be there for you in finding other ways of expressing your partnership.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I can feel your disappointment and appreciate your positive attitude about going forward. Your writing is terrific. Great job.

  15. Kate, so sorry to read this. I know how hard you both have worked for this. Your passion for the mission and the team are admirable. You both will carry on.

    • You two were mentioned to go through what you have done together. It sounds like he rescue job in life is you. Enjoy. You never sit still. There is a reason for your roll to change. You always find the right path.

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