Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Some lives become so intertwined that at some point theirs is simply no longer a story of one.
Such is the case with Amy Linder and her Dalmatians.
A deputy fire marshal, Amy moved to Eugene from Central Washington in 2007, when Cody was 3. “That’s when all the dog-related stuff really started,” she says.
Moving to take a new job with the Fire Dept. in Eugene, during her initial interview Amy told about Cody, and a fire prevention education program she had built around him. He went to schools and taught children fire safety, including the ‘stop, drop and roll’ technique.
“That started it all,” she says.
Amy realized that therapy credentials would also be valuable. “There weren’t many programs to teach people how to become therapy teams. There was rally, agility, formal obedience — all that — but not much to prepare for therapy work. So I became interested in training, and eventually became a therapy dog instructor/examiner.”
This led to greater visibility and deeper involvement in the community. “Cody became kind of a public figure,” and here, Amy says, is where it all came together.
While at a training at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD, , Amy says, “I was standing in the chapel, looking at the pictures of the fallen firefighter memorial, and I thought: ‘This is Cody’s calling.’ I reached out to the memorial foundation, and they were impressed with Cody’s work in fire education and crisis response.”
A tradition was born. Every year since Amy and Cody (and now Casey) have flown to Emmitsburg for the memorial weekend, meeting and supporting families who are grieving. “This is the first time many see their loved one’s name unveiled.”
A deputy fire marshal by trade, Amy says, “The first year [in crisis response] I was all business. I was a first responder.”
“Then I met people and it became personal real quick.”
Amy and her dogs’ story progresses from milestone to milestone, including new credentials, added responsibilities, greater outreach and deeper connections. And while their accomplishments are extraordinary, it is the lives they’ve touched and become a part of that is truly the heart — and power — of their legacy.
Speaking of their legacy, Cody is now 10, and facing medical and age related issues. Amy realized in recent years that she had to “consider a successorship plan if this was to continue.” After a brief pause she adds: “Enter Casey.”
Acquired at 9 weeks of age from a breeder of show-quality dogs, Amy says “it took some convincing” to get him, but that ultimately, “Cody was getting a probie,” she smiles.
Casey earned therapy certification at 1 year, and is now also certified in crisis response. Following in Cody’s pawprints, he is currently in marching class. “He is picking up where Cody left off,” Amy says. Cody, by the way, recently titled as an AKC Excellent-level therapy dog.
The trio’s stories are legion, of special gifts arriving from miles away after years of making an acquaintance. The services they provide are rooted not only in the grit, dedication and day to day discipline of maintaining the highest skills and standards of their jobs, but very clearly they are equally rooted in love.
“I never would have imagined the dog I used professionally would open so many doors to amazing opportunities, to be part of so many lives. After the Illinois school shooting in 2008 . . . we still have relationships with those people . . . and people we’ve met through the memorial.”
There is much more to the story, and it will be told in an upcoming edition of Spot Magazine. For now we’ll close with a poignant tale from Amy:
“We attend the state memorial now as well, and the Honor Guard stands in formation, in two rows that split to form an ‘L’ around the memorial. We go into a cascading kneel. Casey and I lead the inside line. He starts, bowing on the first note of ‘Amazing Grace,’ and holds the bow . . . later going into a down.”
With all the service, activities and commitments of this little family, what does Amy do for fun?
“I snuggle with my spots,” she says.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 4-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.