ARCC news and thoughts

Interview Questions with a Search and Rescue Dog


Sarah and Brand

Sarah and Brand

Tell us a little about yourself — your work, family, past pet history?

I grew up in the Delta of Mississippi with a family dog — a wonderful Labrador Retriever whom I will always love. She was so patient and loving with her family.  But the first dog I owned as an adult is my current dog, so I did not start out as the most experienced dog handler. In addition, my dog is a whole lot more active, frisky, mischievous, and independent than our childhood Lab was. So I have had my hands full.

I am single and also have a busy career. I work as a marketing and branding consultant for companies that prefer to outsource their marketing strategy needs rather than hire full-time directors or vice-presidents of marketing on staff. I love the variety involved in directing the marketing strategy for companies from a wide variety of industries. There’s nothing I enjoy more than helping people who have taken a lot of risk in founding their companies and have already achieved so much to grow their customer base, achieve a higher public profile and greater credibility, earn more publicity, and get the recognition for their talent and experience that they deserve.

With that kind of work life, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to care for or train a dog. But a providential encounter led me to my dog, and the rest is history.

 1. Who is your dog — name, age, breed?

My dog’s name is Brand, he’s seven years old, and he’s part Siberian Husky and part Shar-Pei. His name comes from my desire to give him a strong, one-syllable manly name [he had a bad start in life and looked like a very ugly, dying possum when I found him], and also from a saying by John Wesley.  Wesley was rescued from the second story of a burning house as a five-year-old boy when several men formed a “human ladder” to pull him from a window — and he always referred to himself as “a brand plucked from the burning.”  Since my dog Brand was a rescue also, I thought that was a good strong name for him.

 2. Does he have a job — companion, pet, therapy dog, SAR, athlete?

Brand works in K9 Search and Rescue — searching for missing people on a K9 SAR team called South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association. We are a team of volunteer professionals and highly trained search dogs dedicated to helping find those who are lost, from children to hikers, to Alzheimer’s patients, to drowning victims. We offer a specialized K-9 SAR service for emergency service agencies to use during missing person searches. Our team is called out by sheriff’s departments, fire departments, and other emergency services agencies when they need some additional resources in searches for missing people.

3. How did you hear about ARCC?

My rehab vet in Atlanta, Dr. Orenbuch, told me that Brand needed class IV laser treatment for his carpal ligament injury — and that I needed to find a provider closer to home here in the Upstate.  She did not want me to have to drive to Atlanta for Brand to receive that treatment, so I went on a search for a veterinary provider here.  There aren’t a whole lot of class IV laser machines here in Greenville, but I found Animal Rehab and Conditioning Center on the web.  I looked through Dr. Kennedy’s website and really liked what I saw, then communicated with her via email.  One thing I really appreciate about her is that, while she is an expert in rehabilitative veterinary care, she is also very respectful of the veterinarians who have been in charge of Brand’s care during his injury. She was able to integrate seamlessly into his care team and, while willing to offer counsel from her expertise, has not been pushy or overbearing.  She has a wealth of wisdom to offer, along with many advanced rehabilitative tools.

4. Why are you coming to ARCC? (weight loss, injury, surgical, conditioning, etc.)

Brand has received consistent laser treatment for two ligament injuries over the past year along with some maintenance treatment. Injuries are a part of a SAR dog’s life and I am very happy to have a facility here that can offer rehabilitative treatment, in conjunction with his regular veterinarian whom Brand sees regularly, Dr. Ann Malphrus of North Greenville Animal Hospital.

 5. What types of therapy have you done for this issue prior to coming to ARCC?

Brand had received traditional veterinary care — x-rays, medication, and further diagnostic help from an orthopedic specialist in order to accurately pinpoint his problem and rule out other more serious issues.  Once that was done and his injury was more finely-diagnosed, all of us realized that, while he didn’t need surgery, he did need something in order for him to recover successfully.  From that point I went on the hunt for further treatment options other than simply a long season of crate rest. At the time I did not know of ARCC or Dr. Kennedy, and ended up in Atlanta where Brand receives excellent care. It was there that I received encouragement to seek further laser treatment here in the Upstate. It’s a great relief to also have Dr. Kennedy here in the Upstate; she is a valuable resource for the area.

 6. What are some things you wish you had known or done better prior to your dog’s injury/health issues?

Boy — there are a lot!  I wish I’d moved to softer surfaces for his running sooner.  I wish that I’d recognized that he was injured earlier rather than simply thinking that maybe he was just “slowing down” or had lost conditioning. And I wish I’d been more careful about the effect of impact on his carpal ligaments — for instance, I’d never let even a young dog jump off of the back of a truck bed now.  There’s just too much opportunity for wear and tear or significant sudden injury on that fragile area of a dog’s leg.

 7.  What are some things you have done right over the years with your dog?

I’m glad I started him on fish oil and Dasuquin early, well before he was injured.  I began doing that at the advice of Dr. Malphrus when I asked her early on what I could do to help Brand’s joints before he aged. I’m glad I purchased two memory foam, orthopedic beds for him when he was very young. I’m glad I had him on a grain-free, higher protein quality food. And I’m very very glad that I have exercised him and kept him in good condition and at a fit weight for his lifetime. That has only helped his recovery from injury. Fortunately I have always had the sense that from the very beginning of a dog’s life, you are preparing in a sense for that dog’s healthy, active aging. I didn’t always know what to do, but I did know that the positive things I did could only help him later on in life. I’ve always wanted Brand to have an enjoyable, productive, and hopefully long working life, and a happy, active, content retired life. We don’t always get that for our dogs — accidents or genetic weaknesses can befall any creature — but there are things we can do that will make health and mobility more likely.

 8. What are you doing differently now?

I’m a lot more proactive about possible injuries — I don’t wait nearly as long if I suspect something. I also watch him more carefully and have him stretch and do other strength building exercises. I also use ice on his carpal area after extensive work. And I have committed to a continuous maintenance plan for his activity level, which is high.

 9. Have you learned anything you will use for your next pet?

I plan to get a new dog a lot more used to being significantly “handled” — Brand has been uncomfortable with some of the deeper work that has been needed for his recovery. I will definitely get a new dog assessed thoroughly by a rehabilitative vet so that we can prepare early for any structural or other problems that may develop later. And I’ll start any dog on strength building and stretching work early on. Brand and I have always run together [at least, since he finished most of his growing], but we didn’t do enough other types of fitness work that strengthens his core and hips — areas that stabilize his body so that he won’t get injured easily.

Overall, I will start much earlier on habits that need to be built over a lifetime with a dog.

 10. Have you used integrative medicine (physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, pain management, etc.) in the past for your pet — if so, what?

I only began this kind of veterinary care with Brand’s carpal ligament injury. I would begin that much sooner if I had it to do over. And hopefully I will be a more knowledgeable dog handler should I get a second dog.

11. Have you yourself ever experienced integrative medicine — physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, pain management?

I have — and I have loved it. One of the best things I’ve done for myself is deep tissue massage[sometimes called “rolfing”]. It helps work out some of the obvious muscular imbalances and tightness that I have and helps me run more freely and easily.

Feeling Unnoticed

Thank You!

I have blogged about pets and rehabilitation for over a year. Each week I would send out a blog post about something to do with training, rehab, physical attributes and just life in general but I would only see a couple of people who would pay attention; this was disheartening. I felt like — why bother.

I have not blogged for a few weeks and even left the blog with a continuation that needed to be completed but once again, I did not hear anything so it felt like it didn’t matter. I started trying to put more on facebook — more pictures, more video and even though my blogs were also on facebook they did not generate much talk.

I recently asked a friend who works on facebook for another business about how they do things and generate so much attention with their blog — she laughed and said very few people actually pay attention to the blog but they keep on plugging for the one or two who need it. I expressed how discouraged I was and that no one read my blog — self pity, I know — imagine my surprise when a couple of people at the table said they always read it.

It turns out that I was not accounting for where they read it and my statistics weren’t being generated correctly. Now that is not to say that a “ton” of people read the blog but at least I know a few who are truly interested so I guess I will get back to the grindstone.

Thank you for making me work more for the business and for supporting me.


Growing Strong!

Sam starting February off right!

Sam starting February off right!

The month of January is over and it has flown for me! I was thinking about how last year I was sitting here in the office, cleaning and putting things away, hoping for someone to call — it was a worrisome time. I spent a lot of time thinking and worrying.

We do the same things with our pets – are we doing the right thing, did we miss something, what else can I do? Some people spend so much time gathering info from everyone that they basically do nothing.

I have a ton of ideas on what I should do everyday and I try to write most, not all, of them down. This allows me to take time out to sit and think about them when I am not so rushed. My favorite thinking time is actually while driving and I must admit it is easier to talk about it as I drive. I usually record my thoughts on my phone and then I can replay them.

Try to find a time of day that allows you to have some alone time, time to plan and think, time to assess what you are doing — it is good to gather information but you don’t overload yourself. Find a few people who are really informed and who you can connect with easily – use these people as your mentors and coaches.

Try to keep warm, dry and most of all worry free. Thanks for the first year!


Happy Birthday ARCC!

Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

It’s hard to believe but our first year is “officially” completed and we celebrated it with a bright but very cold day. Rocket came in today wearing his sweater and he does not want to take it off — can’t blame him it is chilly!

This year ARCC wants to start having classes — weight management, core conditioning, and we would like to invite some guest speakers. You all sound off and tell us what you want to see, do or hear and we will try to make it happen.

Stay warm, stay safe and thanks for making our first year great!


Happy New Year!

I wanted to thank all of you for your support and love this year — you have made it a fabulous year with lots of fun, a few tears and a ton of laughter.

I have opened a clinic, made a ton of new friends, took dogs to model in a pet fashion show on TV, interviewed on TV, interviewed on the radio, gave a talk to the local veterinarians, gave a talk to some kennel clubs, gave a talk to the SC Veterinary Technician meeting, became a certified massage therapist for animals and a certified animal chiropractor; it has been a whirlwind time.

We have also had some sadness during the year by losing some family members — both furred and un-furred and I have said goodbye to some great pets.

Here is a video of the events of the last year along with a ton of pet shots — hope you enjoy it! Have a great and safe New Year!

I think I did that right but if not — the youtube channel is:

ARCC – Animal Rehab & Conditioning Center



Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa — Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa — whatever you celebrate this time of year we wish you the best. This is a time of family, fun, festivities, and furry friends.

At this time of year we sometimes forget that there are people and pets who don’t have anyone to celebrate with so take time to visit a lonely neighbor, a homeless shelter, animal shelter, or hospital. Give a little of yourself to make a big difference to someone else.

I wish you all the best and brightest of holidays —


Thinking Ahead — What We Want to Do Next Year!

Creative mind or just a messy desk?

Creative mind or just a messy desk?

Hey Guys! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday!

As you can see by my desk I am in the midst of trying to set some goals for next year; I am a messy thinker!

I have 3 different calendars, some books I need to finish reading, some articles I need to finish writing, a few ideas to develop and I am looking at different products to order. There is a ton of stuff to complete before the end of the year.

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since we opened the doors and you all have helped me so much that I want to thank you for your support.

Now the question is — what do you want to learn, do, or train for next year and how can we help you achieve those goals?

Do you have any burning ideas, questions, or thoughts? I am looking for educational classes, seminars, and general fun times that you might be interested in for you and your pet.

Leave us some ideas and we will get the balls (aka peanuts) rolling for next year!

Thanks — Dicki

It Takes a Village

The Big Goof -- I love this dog! He is so funny!

The Big Goof — I love this dog! He is so funny!

I have been working with a few pets in rehab for a long time — months and some for even a few years. I have traveled to people’s homes, to dog shows, training facilities and even had them come to my home. When we opened this facility at the beginning of the year I knew that a few friends were standing behind me and I hoped that it would be enough.

I worried about the veterinary community — would they refer to me, would they see me as an asset or a threat, would I make it in this new enterprise? I have worked relief since opening the place off and on to help pay the bills until this thing flies.

The other day a hospital receptionist was so excited about how much of a difference we made in one patient’s life — his weight loss, his ability to walk again, and how happy he seems to be.

I have given talks to veterinarians, to breeders, to kennel clubs, to breed clubs and even had an interview with the local TV station. It has amazed me how this has come together — I have been offered these opportunities through clients and even strangers who have heard what I do and want to help.

The screen printing shop who helped me get the interview on TV, the client who called a friend and got me an interview on the radio, the clients who tell other people about what I have done for them — it didn’t really hit me until the other day when a friend who I have known for a few years said as we were working on her dog — it takes a village.

We have moved very slowly through her pet’s rehab and even though he has wanted to tear around like a crazy dog; we have curtailed him. Co-workers, trainers, massage therapists — we have all worked to help heal him. He is doing wonderfully and we are all proud of him.

The same goes for my favorite girl — she knows who she is — we have worked for a long time and we have had many people who have helped with her rehab; it took a village.

It’s not quite the holidays but I would like to thank everyone who has made this year memorable — you have held my hand, talked me through it, followed directions, and helped to make me feel successful. I am thankful for the village I live in — Have a great week!


You’ve Got Mail!

Bailey waiting on her mail.

Bailey waiting on her mail.

I don’t know about you all but I love getting mail (of course, not bills). I love email, text mail, voice mail and especially snail mail. I love the excitement of not knowing what it is, who is it from, what do they want — my husband finds me weird (he married me) but I love it anyway. So needless to say, I check the mail box on my computer and on the road at least once a day; okay, who am I kidding, I check email multiple times a day.

So it was with great excitement last week to get a card. I couldn’t wait to open it up so I carried it straight inside to my desk and opened it; it was for Bailey, she is a patient who is staying at the clinic. Bailey’s mother had sent her a card telling her how much she missed her — I was disappointed that it wasn’t for me but I read it to Bailey and rejoiced in her happiness.

The next day — another card, surely this one was for me — no, it was another card for Bailey from her family. I read the card to Bailey and told her how much her family missed her. Now I must say this is not a blatant plea for mail but I was a little jealous of Bailey because she was getting more mail than I.

I spoke with Bailey’s mom and she noted that the cat, Bobbie, had sent a card that should show up in the next day. I can’t wait to see what the cat has to say and I know Bailey loves these little missives from home.

I finally gave in this morning and helped Bailey write a note back to her family. It was fun writing it down for her and I can’t wait to send it; maybe they will enjoy the mail as much as I do!

Have a great week! Watch ARCC on WMYA 40 – Focus on the Palmetto State on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. during the month of November.

Be Unique!

I couldn't get a picture of the goose so I gave you one of my "unique" baby!

I couldn’t get a picture of the goose so I gave you one of my “unique” baby!

I saw a white goose by the side of the road a few years ago and could not understand why a domestic goose was walking along 385N in Simpsonville. I got closer and realized that it was not a domestic goose but had some gray coloring to it. I watched this young goose, just barely adult size, make her way into the resident Canadian Geese and become a part of the flock.

Over the years I have watched for her to return and each year she comes back with them. She has found a mate and has raised her own babies. Now I don’t know for sure that she is a Canadian goose, maybe she is a Snow Goose or a subspecies of Canadian Geese, but the point is that she took control and was herself.

This goose has continued with her flock for years and each year it becomes a contest to see how early I can spot her — she amazes me and I love to see her. This year has almost gone and I did not see her until last Friday driving home. I looked over in the field at the flock and there she was; I got excited and called my husband immediately to let him know she was still alive and kicking.

This goose has lived her whole life in a flock that looks totally different, has made herself a valued part of the society in which she lives, and has raised her babies. The flock took a few days to get use to her in the beginning but eventually they no longer saw her differences and made her part of their family.

As pet owners we all know that our “fur” children are very different; we may want to compare them to a pet in the past but they will never be that pet – they are unique. Our pets have different personalities, different habits, and respond to us differently but in the end we accept them for who they are and they become a part of our “flock”.

Get out there — find your uniqueness and live it to its fullest.