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PET TRACKER by Kat Albrecht
Chapter 1, Pt 2 - Rachel
You are reading / listening to (and enjoying, I hope) the memoir Pet Tracker by Kat Albrecht. It was originally published and in bookstores in 2004 under the title The Lost Pet Chronicles (Kat’s co-author was Jana Murphy). It went out of print in 2015 and has as since been updated with new stories and renamed Pet Tracker: The Amazing Story of Rachel The K-9 Pet Detective. It is posted here as a free gift to all of Kat’s subscribers. Here are reviews of the original manuscript (from 2004):
In this thoroughly engaging book, Albrecht narrates, with deadpan humor and Grisham-like suspense, the story of how she came to create an entirely new career: lost pet search and rescue. As a police dispatcher and later a police officer in California, Albrecht was duty bound to give human emergencies priority over animal crises, but it wasn't until her Eeyore-like bloodhound, A.J., went missing that Albrecht saw the need for sophisticated detective and scent trail work to find pets. With humor and fascinating insight into search-and-rescue work, Albrecht continues to find innovative ways to help animals and the humans who love them, and inspires readers with her dramatic career changes. This is a must-read for animal lovers and sleuths alike. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The book, which recounts several of her cases, is downright engrossing. David Pitt, © American Library Association. All rights reserved.
It was a rotten, cold, and rainy day when my first Weimaraner entered my life. Long before adopting dogs from shelters and rescue groups was commonplace, I found a local breeder who had a litter of Weimaraner puppies for sale. After running the litter through a series of temperament tests, I settled on a curious female puppy. She had a white spot on her chest that made her unqualified for show work, which was just fine with me.
Within an hour of testing the puppies, I was carrying her to my car in the crook of my arm. I hadn’t brought a crate or even a cardboard box. I folded up the sweater that I’d left on the passenger seat and put it on my lap. As I set my new puppy carefully on the sweater, she sighed and nuzzled against me. By the time I pulled onto the highway, her eyes were closed and she was snoring with little rapid puppy breaths. I was so happy about my new dog that I could hardly sit still.
I was renting a cabin on a horse ranch in Prather, a town located in the foothills northeast of Fresno, California, at the time. I arrived home after just over an hour’s drive with my silver prize still dozing on my lap. When I let Katie, my older Australian shepherd mix, out of the cabin, she jumped up in delight to sniff the new arrival that I held in my arms. I set the groggy puppy down and watched as Katie wiggled around and greeted the newest member of our pack.
Even though I had socialized Katie and competed with her in the canine sport of flyball racing, she had always been a bit dog aggressive. However, she’d never been mean toward a puppy, and this puppy was no exception. Katie welcomed the little puppy into our family, and a bond was established immediately.
I named her Rachel. It was a girl name that I had always loved. I had hoped to one day use that name for a daughter. But since I was almost thirty, still single, and there was no husband in sight, I decided that it was time to use it. Something told me that the name I’d saved for so long would not be wasted—that Rachel was going to be a treasured, extraordinary addition to my life.
Rachel was such an adorable puppy. Her most endearing obsession was how she coveted my socks. As soon as I peeled the warm socks off my tired feet, Rachel would be there to pick them up with her soft, birddog mouth. She would waddle off, the white socks dragging between her pudgy legs. Once she entered her crate, she would cuddle and nudge the cotton blobs. She never chewed or damaged a sock—instead, she treated them like fragile baby birds. It was hard to remain crabby when, after a miserable day at work, I walked through my front door to be greeted by a wiggling, silver puppy that was excited to see my stinky feet!
I was smitten with Rachel’s looks. As she grew older, I took her out in public as often as I could. My intention, at first, was to practice obedience, to socialize her with crowds of people, and to expose her to unfamiliar noises. I knew her early experiences would either make her a natural search dog or a challenge to train when she was older. We practiced “sit-stays” in busy grocery store parking lots. I walked her through crowds of people and past ear-splitting air compressors at a local balloon festival. I put her in a “down-stay” in the middle of an auto body shop to get her near loud “rat-tat-tat” noises.
To be honest, my original purpose of training transitioned into wanting to show off my beautiful dog. Nearly every person who saw Rachel wanted to reach out and pet her silver, velour-like coat. One day we met an elderly woman with purplish-gray hair who smiled, bent down, and stroked Rachel on the head as she exclaimed, “Oh, honey, I just love your dog! I’ve been trying for years to get my hair that color!” I laugh every time I share that story.
Being around Rachel brought joy to my life. When Rachel wasn’t playing with Katie, my gregarious puppy was always looking for someone else to keep her company. A gray-striped tabby kitten owned by one of the renters on the ranch where I lived became one of her favorite playmates. Rachel would nuzzle and nip at the kitten, who would playfully bite and bat at my dog, just enough to cause her to back up and then entice her to come back for more. I had no idea that this positive, playful experience with a kitten would help shape Rachel’s future career path.
How to Read to PET TRACKER from the Start of the Book
To read previous PET TRACKER chapter / episodes or to start reading this book from the very beginning, go to my Substack homepage at armedrobbers2airedales.substack.com, click on the PET TRACKER by Kat Albrecht tab on top, scroll down to the very bottom and start reading my very first post titled Dedication & Introduction Pt 1.
TIP: Since you can’t put a “book mark” in my Substack, I suggest that you keep a record (i.e. journal, spreadsheet, whatever) of the chapter and part numbers that you’ve already read so far. This will help you easily pick up reading where you last left off.
How to Listen to Recordings of me Reading PET TRACKER
To LISTEN to me reading these chapter sections, simply scroll to the top of each post page, look for the gray box that says ARTICLE VOICE OVER, and click on the blue-sideways-triangle-thingy and WAH LAH, its ME reading PET TRACKER so that you can listen as you drive, do the dishes, whatever. BTW, with the audio version I sometimes add tiny details that expand on the text version.