Rescued from shelter, Castro Valley dog dedicates life to helping others as search and rescue dog

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- For Carolyn Vane, Castro Valley resident and Canine Handler, the moment she saw the Border Collie mix puppy at the shelter it was love at first sight.

"He flew out and jumped in my lap. He knew and so did I that we were destined to be together." Says Vane.

Carolyn Vane went to many shelters in the East Bay looking to rescue a puppy and give it a second chance at life.

She rescued the Border Collie puppy from a shelter in Oakland with the purpose of making the dog a search and rescue canine.

The Castro Valley resident was so fascinated by the dog that she named him Pip, short for 'Pretty Impressive Pooch.'

Vane reflected on the first time she took Pip out for training and said, "It only took him a minute for him to do what I wanted. He was so bright, such a smart dog."

Little did Pip know that his story would come full circle from being rescued from a shelter to becoming a rescuer of a search and rescue unit.

Carolyn has volunteered with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue unit for almost three decades including with another dog before Pip.

She says she loved being part of a cause that was bigger than herself and anted to help others find their loved ones when they have gone missing.

"I have spoken to the parents of missing children in the Bay Area and they have all said the same thing. That they just want to know and that they just want their child back.

We can find their loved ones and give them closure," says Vane.

Training shelter dogs to be search and rescue dogs has been going on for years.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, headquartered in Southern California, has been turning shelter dogs into search and rescue dogs since 1996.

In an interview with CNN, a spokeswoman for the foundation explained that there's actually and advantage to getting dogs from shelters.

"The exact same behavior that we look for in these dogs are usually the ones that land them on the unadoptable or euthanasia list, they're highly energetic. They're super-focused, laser-focused," explained Denise Sanders to CNN.

But it still takes a lot of work to train any dog to be a search and rescue dog.

Vane trained Pip for over a year and he became part of the Search and Rescue Team right before his second birthday.

Pip trained every week at many locations all over the Bay Area.

He has been a part of big searches along shorelines, highways, and in the wilderness.

She trained Pip to detect human remains for Alameda County, Law Enforcement Mutual Aid System, and California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA).

Once he has located a scent he would lead a volunteer handler to his find. He would be rewarded in his favorite treat, hot dogs.

"If it needs to be done then the dogs do it. Pip has done a lot of nice work and I am very proud of him and the work that he has done," explained Vane.

Pip has been a top dog in many searches and has received commendations from many Sheriff's Departments for his work.

He retired from Search and Rescue at nine-years-old. He is enjoying his golden years by playing with children and taking long walks.

Carolyn is currently training another dog of hers to be a part of The Alameda County Search and Rescue Canine Unit.

When I asked her about Pip she said "He makes me feel special, they (dogs) love me and trust me and make me feel very special."
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