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First Responders, my birthday and my new nick name!

Posted by: | October 22, 2017 | 7 Comments |

The recent wild fires in Northern California have burned thousands of acres, homes and businesses in the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds have been converted to a self contained community of 3500 first responders from CA., NV., OR., WA., SD., CO., MT., FL., NV., AZ. and Australia. The compound includes chiropractors, message folks, a small engine repair tent, communications trailers for AT&T, electrical generators to power everything, an eating area, kitchen, showers, laundry and enough tents for all the 3500 first responders as well as Santa Rosa Police, Sheriffs Department, CA. State Parks Department, U.S. Army and the Reserves for security and contractors for the bulldozer work. And, parking for dozens of fire trucks in all sizes, mostly red but some hi-viz yellow as well as an area to maintain all the equipment.

When we learned the organization that Shelby, Cindi and I volunteer for, P.A.L.S., or Paws as Loving Support, had permission for our dogs to visit the first responders, we headed down there.

I remember in Shelby’s Comfort Dog training, she found a firefighter she was very fond of…so I knew she would love being at the Fairgrounds.

Getting into the Fairgrounds means getting through security, first letting the Santa Rosa PD know that Shelby is a comfort dog by showing them our photo name tags and that she was requested by the first responders. Then as you enter the compound you need to check in with Cal Fire. Fortunately most security folks have remembered Shelby so our access has been a bit easier. For the last week Shelby has posted herself near the main gate so she could greet the first responders as they headed into their compound after working all day or heading out for the night shift. We knew she would use her red wagon, because most fire trucks are red, and she really wanted to “blend in”. On October 15th we tied a “Happy Birthday” balloon to her wagon and celebrated her 10th birthday by hanging out with the first responders. The next day I was told that Shelby was brought up in the fire fighters morning meeting and they gave her a new nickname, DOGTOR SHELBY.

We usually spend 3 to 4 hours by the gate where Shelby has greeted hundreds of first responders and without fail brought a smile to their faces. Some will tell us about their dogs at home and show us pictures. Some will ask to take her picture, some will ask to have their picture with her, some will smile, pet her and go about their business. Some will bring her a piece of steak from their dinner or a piece of jerky for her to munch on. We make sure we tell everyone we meet, “thank you for being here” and “thank you for helping us”. We are humbled that many have told us, “thanks for being here, we appreciate it”. I mentioned to one of the fire captains that we haven’t heard any swearing or negative comments, his reply was “there’s no room for that”.

Yesterday was the first day in 2 weeks where we have no visible smoke from the fires. People are being let back into the evacuation zones to see what they have left. The long, difficult period of rebuilding has begun, it will take years. Cindi and I are very blessed, our house was never in danger.

The first responders came from all over to help us. I don’t know how to say thank you enough for what they have done. Hopefully we’ve helped in some way.

under: Conversations with Shelby


  1. By: Carolyn on October 22, 2017 at 1:37 pm      

    Dogtor Shelby…just knowing you makes me feel I am in the company of greatness… you go girl!!!

  2. By: Codie Rae on October 22, 2017 at 5:55 pm      

    OMD! Paging Dogtor Shelby! I am just in awe of you guys. You have helped in a YUUUUGE way, no doubt about it! Many blessings upon all of your heads and can’t wait to see you in November. Dang! Its just right around the corner!!

  3. By: Diane on October 22, 2017 at 9:59 pm      

    Shelby, you are absolutely amazing! And your mom and pop are pretty special too! Thank you for spending time with all those first responders. There was a lot of sadness going on, and I know you made all of them feel so much better. And Happy Birthday too! Hard to believe you are 10 years old!!

  4. By: mom2shelby on October 23, 2017 at 12:19 pm      

    WOW …. Shelby you are even more of a rockstar than before. What a gift! Thank you so much for being, I am sure, the brightest light in these amazing heroes days.

    By the way – I had no idea October 15 was your birthday. Happy Birthday. That was also my angel Shelby’s birthday… go figure!

    I am so glad your home was safe the entire time and our heart still goes out with the loss felt by so many!

    Jasper and I are looking forward to seeing you and your family in a couple weeks!

    Alison with Spirit Shelby in her heart (and little Jasper too)

  5. By: jerry on October 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm      

    You guys are angels on paws and feet. THANK YOU for being there for these weary responders! I have no doubt they were so grateful for the soft touch of Dogtor Shelby during a very trying time.

    And HOPPY BIRTHDAY sweet girl! I hope you got spoiled rotten, you sure deserve it.

  6. By: Brad on October 27, 2017 at 8:39 pm      

    Thank you soooo much for bringing Shelby out these last bunch of nights. I looked forward to seeing her at the end of my shift. I honestly got a tearful leaving the fair grounds last night knowing that camp was shutting down and I wouldn’t see Shelby again.. Thank you for lifting my spirits Shelby! You are awesome!

  7. By: Cathy O'Dell - Dicus on November 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm      

    Hi Jack! Thanks so much for sharing this blog. You and Cindy have been on my mind since the fires started. I had a very personal connection with those fires. My family got lucky like you and they were spared the loss of possessions. It took a huge toll on their mental state. My sister and my great nephew had not long ago moved from Coffey Park.

    Love to you and Cindy!

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