"On August 13, 2012 @ about 1225 hours, I gave K-9 Sage Her last command. The command was to travel on to the rainbow bridge. I told her that I couldn't go with her on this trip, that this trip she would have to go without me. She understood.
Before she left we had a short game of frisbee that she enjoyed. Then Kathy and some friends blew up about ten balloons. As soon as she saw them she was off! She popped all of them in record time but then her back legs began to fail her. We had placed the catheter in her leg earlier that morning so that it would be an easy transition for her. After the balloon popping was done I gave her the permission to go and in doing so I was able to fulfill my promise to her that she would never suffer or be in pain.
Sage is my hero. I miss her terribly. Her spirit of a lifetime of service will live on through the Sage Foundation For Dogs Who Serve. "
It starts with Diane Whetsel,
an experienced Gang officer in the Security Threat Intelligence unit at a corrections facility in New Mexico. Diane had both advanced certification as K-9 unit dog handler and as a trainer of K-9 dogs and their handlers. So Diane was the best person to teach Sage how to provide canine support for law enforcement agencies in criminal matters, national and local emergencies, disasters, and military action. Better still, she actually became Sage’s K-9 unit handler and owner.
Sage, a 16-week-old Border Collie from the U.K.,
arrived in New Mexico in 1999, and started training with Diane to become a K-9 disaster specialist for FEMA. Diane was astonished at how quickly Sage was able to learn her tasks. In fact, she was able to pass her certification test on her very first try—a most unusual circumstance. When 9/11 happened a few months later, Sage was ready to go to work in its aftermath at the Pentagon.
For the next few years, Sage worked with various law enforcement agencies looking for missing persons and as a forensic K-9 dog in homicide investigations. In 2005, she was sent to Mississippi to provide search and rescue for hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Sage and Diane deployed to Iraq in 2007,
there to search for missing soldiers who may have been killed by insurgents. The team spent six months covering the area where the soldiers had been ambushed. They covered farm fields, homes, and industrial areas. Sage and Diane were also involved in several air assaults, water assaults, and ground operations during their tour in Iraq. In the end, Sage was as comfortable riding in a Blackhawk helicopter as she was in her own car at home.
“Even though Sage’s job was to search for fallen soldiers, everywhere we went in Iraq she brought a little piece of home to our troops. She was a warm body to hold and even sometimes just some friendly fur to cry in. She was there to lick a dirty face or play a game of Frisbee whenever there was time and a safe place to rest.” Diane Whetsel
Honored for service
Over the years Sage has received recognition for the services she has provided in partnership with her best friend, Diane.
2002 Milagro Award, presented by Ali MacGraw
2002 AKC ACE Humane Fund Award, Honorable Mention
2008 New Mexico Veterinary Association Hall Of Fame Award
2009 AKC Award for Canine Excellence, Humane Fund Award, Honoree
Sage was the winner in the Search & Rescue Category and one of eight finalists in the 2011 AHA Hero Dog Awards. American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards
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