Dog, owner encourage disaster preparation

  • Published
  • By Roseanne Peterson
  • 81st Training Wing emergency operations center
Hello! I am Ariel Peterson, a golden lab. My partner, Roseanne Peterson, and I are in training for the Jackson County Search and Rescue Team. I think we made a good team because we are patient with each other, enjoy laughing, walking and playing together a lot. We have been together a year. I have one previous partner who turned me in to the humane society when I was 9 months old for chewing on a fancy $50 pair of shoes. I am glad the life partner I now have understands that type of thing. It is like how I totally understand -- but dread -- when she puts on Motown music in the car and sings. I actually prefer Three Dog Night myself.

Patience is just one part of partnerships. We both have jobs which help prepare our community for natural disaster or emergency situations. We also have other hobbies we enjoy together -- she likes planting flowers in the yard and I love to dig them up. If all days could be like these, life would be easy, but they aren't. This is the time of the year my partner spends extra time preparing the base for the upcoming storm and hurricane seasons. During the day, she helps prepare Keesler and in the evenings we work together to prepare our home.

My partner and I have a disaster plan. If she is unable to come home, she has arranged for our great neighbor and her family to help care for me. Because Harrison County also knows how important it is for us, the county also has an emergency shelter that takes in partners like me. I know my partner would never evacuate the area without me. We are a team. She knows how terrified I would be if I was abandoned.

We make sure we have plenty of bottled water and food in case a storm comes because it may be hard to go to the store. She and I prepare our home in case our utilities ever go out. She also checks the fence in spring to make sure there are no holes that may allow other animals to get in and scare me during bad weather. She knows I hate the loud thunder and lightning that comes in spring, so we have an extra room where I can escape during the day if bad weather strikes when she's not home.

Although I hate getting my checkup with the vet, especially with that thermometer, we know it is important (and mandatory for search and rescue) to keep my medical documentation safe and secure. Both my partner and I keep up on our shots. We also keep our families informed of our situation during unexpected weather changes. We also keep an extra leash and collar at the house with my identification tag in case something happens to the leash and collar I now have. She also keeps a little extra money around for such situations.

We are ready for any weather threats. Our disaster plans assure we will be spending many more days in the car with our heads out the window listening to Motown music -- with someone trying to keep rhythm with the beat.