There’s nothing like a dog — or two — to remind one of what is important in life. In Amy Linder’s case, her dogs Cody and Casey keep her focused, both in life and work.
Cody and Casey are each gorgeous Dalmatians, and Amy is Eugene’s Deputy Fire Marshall. Dalmatians have a long history with the fire service . . . the tall and lean dogs were bred as runners to guide horse-drawn wagons, which fire trucks used to be. Linder also has a long history with the fire service . . . her father and grandfather were both firefighters. So it’s no surprise that Dalmatians are a big part of Linder’s life.
Linder first began training 8-year-old Cody to demonstrate fire safety when she lived and worked for the fire department in Washington. She relocated to Eugene five years ago, and knew that if her public education program were to continue she needed a succession plan.
“That’s when little Casey joined the ranks,” says Linder. Cody is still a puppy, but he’s passed his “probationary firefighter” status and is now a full-fledged firedog. “Casey had to start with basic training, all the things well-socialized dogs that are part of any family need to learn,” says Linder. “Once that was complete we started the tasks of the specific fire safety behaviors that are the keys to our public safety education.” Casey can demonstrate how to crawl under smoke, use a giant prop to demonstrate testing a smoke alarm, dial 911 (on a prop telephone), go to a meeting place, and stop-drop-and-roll.
In Oregon, Linder has grown ever more active in the dog community, training both Cody and Casey as therapy and crisis response dogs as well as deepening their commitments to the fire service. “Cody was elected to the Oregon Firefighters Honor Guard that renders honors at the state Fallen Firefighters ceremonies and dedications,” she says. “Cody was the elected member — not me. He was provided an honor guard uniform and in a funeral he can be there to support the coworkers and family and friends who are going through the grieving process. Casey has some big paw prints to follow.”
Casey is already excelling in his responsibilities. He spent much of October (fire safety month) visiting schools, and during the first weekend attended his first National Fallen Firefighters Foundation memorial weekend, which honors firefighters who die in the line of duty.
“It’s a weekend about support and honor and recognition of these families,” Linder says. Cody has played a large role in that ceremony over the past three years, but now that he’s aging, it’s too big a trip for him, so this year was the passing of the torch. Casey also went to the state fallen firefighters ceremony, and his name is now on the roster of active Oregon firefighters.
It’s clear that both Amy and “the boys” enjoy their jobs, and that while they have fun, they know it’s serious work. “Fire safety is only one portion of my job duties, but it is the most fun, exciting, rewarding thing that I do that helps keeps me energized and focused on the rest of my job duties,” Linder says. “Code enforcement, getting things repaired and built correctly, for the safety of not only the people who live and work in the buildings but for our firefighters who have to work in those buildings . . . seeing the grief of families dealing with loss all helps me remember why I do what I do, so that other families don’t have to go through what I just saw.”