Rosie already has her good girl certification. Search-and-rescue is next.

By Austin Cannon
October 21, 2020
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Credit: Jeremy Pell

Rosie was in a bad spot last month. Specifically, she was tied to a tree in Johnson County, Indiana, and abandoned. Her former owner left a devastatingly sad note in a bottle attached to her collar, telling whoever showed up that he had lost his house and job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Please, if you find me, give me a good home,” the note read, as reported by CBS 4 in Indianapolis

The note also described Rosie’s disposition (full of energy), her diet, her love of chew toys, and what cues she knew: sit, stay, lay down, roll over. The half-German shepherd, half-Australian shepherd was named Roadie at the time.

Soon after her story hit the news, Jeremy Pell, chief of the White River Township Fire Department, opened one of his local news apps and saw Rosie’s story. He also trains search-and-rescue dogs and was hoping for a new one—as long as he could find one nearby instead of having to search out of state. 

Turns out, Rosie was in a shelter only 15 minutes away.

“Maybe God really did drop a dog in my backyard,” Pell tells Daily Paws. 

So after about two weeks after being tied to the tree, Rosie has been adopted by Pell and is now on her way to becoming a certified search-and-rescue dog. In her spare time, she hangs out at the headquarters of a very dog-friendly fire department. 

Credit: Jeremy Pell

Search-and-Rescue Training

Pell says Rosie is doing excellent so far in her training and he hopes she can eventually be certified to search for human remains and to track and trail people who are still alive. 

”I would like to train her to save a life one day,” Pell says.

The duo is currently covering basic cues like sit, stay, and leave it (Rosie really likes squirrels). They’re at the beginning stages of search training, where Rosie will go out and find a specific object and alert Pell. So far, she puts her nose directly on the object when she finds it and then sits down and looks at Pell to let him know. 

Rosie is about 2 years old, which luckily puts her on an achievable training schedule. Being an intelligent, energetic half-German shepherd, which is very much a working breed that loves a job, certainly helps too. 

Pell was especially thankful to the team at Johnson County Animal Control, which took care of Rosie and helped set her up for her new search-and-rescue job with the fire department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. 

“That’s not something to take for granted,” he says. “They didn’t have to do that.” 

Firehouse Dogs

When Rosie isn’t training or getting along splendidly with the Pell family, she accompanies her dad to work. They’re “doing life together,” Pell says. Plus it’s good for Rosie to be around other people to socialize. 

But she’s hardly the only dog around the headquarters and firehouses. Ruby Sue, Pell’s poodle who’s also in search-and-rescue training, spends time at the department headquarters as well. Firehouse Finn, meanwhile, lives at Fire Station 52, where he recently celebrated his third birthday

While he enjoys life with the firefighters, Finn also helps them, ready to comfort them when they come back from whatever death and destruction that drew them out.

“Why wouldn’t you do this?” Pell says of introducing dogs to his workplace. “... That’s science.”

That’s Pell’s main message: Dogs, whether search-and-rescue, guide dogs, therapy dogs, or just a friendly face at the end of the day, are here to help—Rosie included.