"Vision" is an Australian Shepherd Search and Rescue K-9 trained in human remains detection on land or water. In 2005, when she was a puppy, she was donated to Jen Morgan, K-9 handler and President of the SW Panhandle Search and Rescue Team. Shortly there after she began training in the field of search and rescue. As a norm, it takes approximately 2-3 years for a K-9 to become certified in a chosen field. Vision was nationally certified at the age of 11 months and went on to become a vigilant human remains detection dog with 14 recoveries to-date. Her specialty is working off of boats, recovering drowning victims. In 2009 the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office, in NW Florida, recognized her ability and expertise in water finds and donated a boat that is utilized for water rescues and recoveries. In that same year, Vision was nominated and awarded an Honorable Mention from the American Kennel Club for the ACE Award, (Award for Canine Excellence) in her diligence in search and rescue. This ACE award, is given for K-9 excellence in terms of having performed some exemplary act, whether large or seemingly small, that has significantly benefited a community or individual. Vision's capability to do what she loved best was amazing. She seemed to have a very bright future ahead of her.
In July 2010, Vision's owner and trainer, Jen Morgan, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and immediately started Chemo treatments. Vision was by her side the entire time, giving Jen hope that one day they would be out working as a team again. Because of Vision's unconditional love, Jen was able to get up twice a week and train with her, while going through Chemo treatments. Jen credits her will to fight this dread disease to the encouragement of her beloved dog, Vision and is on the road to recovery.
On Dec 11th, the pair went on their first search together in over 5 months, for missing 5 yr. old Natalie DeBlase, in Citronelle, AL. This search was organized by the SW Panhandle Search and Rescue Team at the request of Mobile Police Dept. Thirty three handlers and their K-9s joined together with police and fire personnel and succeeded in locating what was believed to be the child's remains. Both Jen and Vision were doing what they were called to do. At the end of the search, Vision and Jen returned to the command center. Upon return, Vision was being petted by another teammate who noticed lumps all over her stomach. After evaluating her further, Jen noticed that all of her lymph nodes were as big as her fist. Vision was showing no signs of illness and wanted to get back into the woods and work, but instead was rushed to a local veterinary hospital. After many tests, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer at only 5 years of age. The tests gave all indication that she would be a good candidate for Chemo treatments. As a working K-9, who has given so much of herself in the search for others, she more than deserved a chance to have a normal life and to continue doing what she did best.
The veterinarian told Jen that she has seen a correlation between humans who contract cancer, then go through Chemo treatments and begin to start feeling better, and then their dogs get cancer. She can't explain why this happens, but she has seen it often.
Normally K9s do well with Chemo, but for some reason Vision wasn't tolerating the Chemo. Vision was tested for a mutated gene called MDR1 (multi drug resistance) gene. She tested positive for this gene, which meant she had a list of drugs that she couldn't tolerate and chemo was on that list. After finding this out, Jen had to put her to sleep. Some might say that Vision took Jen's cancer with her when she left this world, because she is now cancer free.
Vision's first search was at Dauphin Island, AL where the 4 babies were thrown off of the 160 foot bridge. The team decided it would be a fitting farewell for our foundation K9 to scatter her ashes under that bridge and did so the following week.
She is now in heaven getting to know all of the 14 people she recovered.