Something Good Comes Out of Hurricane Katrina

by Toni Drugmand

It has been nearly six months since Katrina unleashed her wrath on New Orleans and much of the southern gulf coastal areas. The destruction left in Katrina’s wake left the nation shocked and stunned. Today, New Orleans is in the news again with all of the joy and celebration that accompanies Mardi Gras. As the residents of the areas destroyed and traumatized by nature’s fury demonstrate their confidence through the rebuilding of their homes and communities, I can’t help thinking that out of the hellish winds and water which wreaked such destruction that somehow we will see the good things that always seem to emerge from crisis. I think most folks are ready and anxious to hear the good stories and so we finish our Hurricane story with a fairy tail ending.

 Hurricane says goodbye to Toni as he gets ready to start FEMA training in Pennsylvania.

Hurricane says goodbye to Toni as he gets ready to start FEMA training in Pennsylvania.

Enter Lisa Myers. Lisa owns Sit Means Sit in New Jersey and is a member of Pennsylvania Task Force I (PATF1), a FEMA urban search and rescue team. Lisa was referred to me by my trusted friends and colleagues with whom I had shared Hurricane’s story. Lisa read his story and seen the videos on our web site. Lisa currently has a working Pit Bull named Rocky on PATF1 and is searching for a second dog to put into training. She wanted to know if Hurricane was still available. It was difficult to hold back my own tears thinking about the possibilities my little dog could have as a search/rescue dog. I felt that when Hurricane was ready to be placed that he should go to someone who really had the interest and time to work with him because he has shown an incredible desire to work. He learns quickly, is easy to manage, climbs like a mountain goat, and has great stamina — all of the characteristics needed in a search/rescue dog.

I called my colleagues Carla Collins with Texas Task Force 1 and Fred Hassen of Sit Means Sit and the No Limitations School for Dog Trainers (, before to verify Lisa’s credentials and reputation. I was feeling more than a little protective by now and all the staff at DOG-ON-IT Training! have become so attached to him, each expressing a desire to keep him if they were not already dog-full in their own homes. I was assured he would get better than the best care and would be treated as family. When I spoke with Lisa to tell her Hurricane was available to her, Lisa asked if he could stay a few more weeks because she did not want to risk shipping him to her. She said she would rather fly out to pick him up personally. He would assume his role as a service animal immediately and ride at her feet on the return trip instead of in the cargo hold.

I immediately knew that Hurricane was given an awesome new start and again I became choked up at the thought.

Hurricane, an "Angel in Training" says goodbye to his rescue driver as he embarks on his new role as a search and rescue dog.

Hurricane, an "Angel in Training" says goodbye to his rescue driver as he embarks on his new role as a search and rescue dog.

I promised Hurricane’s devoted transporter who delivered him to Phoenix, that if for some reason he doesn’t make the training that he would be returned to us. “Mr. Green Beret” has promised him a permanent home on his ranch. “Mr. Green Beret” has kept an active interest in Hurricane since he picked him up for us in Santa Fe, New Mexico on New Years Eve and has helped me to tell his story. This man and this incredible little dog bonded so closely during their drive to Phoenix. Hurricane has had more than one visit from his traveling buddy to check on his progress and well being.

Amidst all of the devastation and destruction, this little dog represents something good to come out of Hurricane Katrina. The rescued becomes the rescuer! Hopefully this is not a perfect ending to Hurricane’s story, but rather a perfect new beginning. For all of Hurricane’s fans and supporters, we will keep a page updated with what he is doing and where he is doing it.

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