Monday, November 28, 2011

Vickie & Bert

Who is in the photo at right?

What a great chance to introduce myself (Vickie) and Bert. The picture is probably one of 10 pictures ever taken of me. I am pretty camera shy, but Bert on the other hand has had hundreds of pictures taken of him. We had to have a police ID picture and that is the only reason there is this one.

I run a little alternative doggy day care kennel in Utah. I had worked for many years in the field of Mental Health but after a lot of close calls and the loss of my sister and best friend, I walked away from that career and started doing something I really loved. Working with dogs.

Bert is a 3 1/2 year old male golden retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, we are not coffee drinkers but I do love a good cup of hot chocolate on a cold day and today it is really cold. As the winter snow storms begin, Bert and I try and start our day with a little one on one time, before the day care dogs come. He usually sits at my side and gets a few baby marshmallows and I just chill (haha).

What's brewing?

We like the packaged hot chocolate with a bit of cinnamon and lots and lots of whipped cream and marshmallows.

How were you and Bert united?

My third partner in search and rescue, Jamie, a little border collie mix, had become too old to continue working and so I was thinking I would either retire (after 25 years and three k-9 partners) or maybe work another 10 years with another dog.

I had a golden as my second search & rescue partner but she had been killed after only working for 5 years. I loved her dearly and thought I might be interested in getting another golden for search work.

I went to look at a local litter with every intention of not bringing home a pup but it took about two seconds to know that Bert and I were meant to be together.

How did Bert get his name? Any nicknames?

My Aunt who went with me to look at the litter wanted to call him Prince Charming which would have been totally embarrassing on a search. I could just imagine calling my k-9 partner over to me with "Come charming, Come" Or "Prince, go find" it just didn't seem to fit.

But on the drive home with the little pup laying on my shoulder the name Bert came to me as totally fitting for the little guy. To appease my Aunt I called him Prince Albert. That made her feel better, but to me he will always be just plain "Bert."

Please tell us a bit about Bert's work as a therapy dog.

Bert certified in search and rescue as a wilderness, cadaver, water, tracking and disaster dog. From the age of 14 weeks, he would go to schools and teach wilderness safety to thousands of children all over the states of Utah, Idaho. and Nevada.

Through the search dogs he also went to retirement homes to visit the residents.

On one demonstration, Bert and I were asked to go to a camp that is for children with cancer. We have done it for years, but this year (2011), Bert met a four year old boy who stole our hearts. Bert was wonderful with this child, as he is with all children, but this one particularly brought out a very unique quality in Bert. A sensitivity that I had not been aware of to date.

It was at this moment that I knew we needed to look into the therapy work more seriously.

What is Bert's best quality?

Bert's gentle side and his understanding of what humans need from him is his best quality. Now don't get me wrong, he can be a nut, a little obsessive compulsive, but when he goes into the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital he becomes the perfect boy. At the request of nurses and doctors he is helped up onto the bed of the patient and he gently lays himself snugly along the side of their bodies, puts his head at their side just under the arm for petting and the two of them just melt into a world of healing. It is amazing to watch and a privilege to be a part of.

Who is Bert's best pet-pal?

Bert's very best friend is another search dog named Murphy. Murphy and Bert have been friends from the first day they met. Since they spend so much time together on searches and in training, they have become like brothers.

If Bert could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I think he would like it if I would quit working and just spend time with him, doing what ever he wants -- taking more hikes, more trips to the river for a swim, just more me time.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Bert could talk, who should do his voice?

Michael J. Fox.

Visit the Canine Country Club website and the Four Legged Views blog.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Bert and Vickie, we love you heaps. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  2. We love Bert! I love that puppy pic of his too.

  3. Bert sounds like a great canine companion and a hard worker, too. Good luck with your daycare center. I love dogs so much they tell the children's stories in my books. :)
    Wishing you continued happy days with Bert and his canine buds!

  4. Hi Bert!!! Vickie...your picture is fantastic. Great to see you and enjoy learning about how much you guys help folks.

  5. What a wonderful job Bert does! Goldens are great. :)

  6. Way to go Bert - you are our hero !

  7. So nice to finally see a picture of Vickie!! We love y'all!!!

    Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

  8. Bert is indeed a very special dog with a natural instinct for therapy work. Actually, my mom has quite a few pictures of Vickie (with those adorable dimples) but she threatens to take away my treats if any appear on the internet! Vickie totally changed our lives and brought more adventure, furends and fun into it than I ever imagined when I was an air-head, bouncing pup. And Bert, well you all know he is the best bud a guy could ever have.
    Ruv you Guys,

  9. So nice to see Vicky!
    And Bert as a puppy. I do not comment often, but I always enjoy reading your adventures, and seing those beautiful pics

  10. That's pretty neat that you walked away from your previous career to do something you love! My mom hopes to do that some day.

    Your pal, Pip

  11. Bert(Prince Albert) we love you even MORE!

    Wyatt and Stanzie

  12. an amazing interview!! you are both so special

  13. I love following your blog - especially all your inspiring photography. I learned a lot more about you today!!

  14. It's SO good to finally see a picture of Vickie! YAY! Duncan and I love both Vickie and Bert very much!