Discover more from Armed Robbers 2 Airedales
PET TRACKER: by Kat Albrecht
Chapter 1, Pt 3: How I Grew To Love Police Work
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.
When I was growing up, my dad always called me Kathy Cop, because of my fascination with all things police. “Detective Albrecht,” I’d correct him when I got a little older, not realizing that I was prophesizing of things to come. I’d always been interested in police work, ever since my older brother cast off a shortwave police scanner when I was a kid. I’d snapped up that radio and carried it with me everywhere—I could speak fluent police lingo, could recite the phonetic alphabet in less than 8 seconds, and had memorized the “ten-code” by the time I was twelve. It was when I was fourteen and the TV show Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson aired that I realized that I actually could become a police officer.
Armed Robbers 2 Airedales is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
So, when I turned fifteen, I joined the Fresno Police Department Explorer Scout program where I routinely rode along on patrol as an observer with police officers. I look back in amazement that at the age of fifteen, I was actually riding around in a police car, witnessing all kinds of tragedies, horrific crimes, and dangerous circumstances. Like seriously, I was exposed to robberies in progress, accidents where people were killed, and many other gruesome crimes that no adult in their right mind should have let a teen seen.
A perfect example of what I was exposed to at an early age is when, on a ride-along, we responded to a “medical aid” call where a nine-year-old girl was injured by an exploding glass bottle. We arrived at the same time as the paramedics. The officer I was with interviewed the uncle of the injured girl as I observed. The uncle said that he was babysitting his young niece and her two friends. They had been in the hot tub when the two friends decided to go to the store while the niece stayed behind. Uncle and niece were watching TV and the girl was drinking out of a glass bottle of Sprite when it just “exploded!” I remember how I saw the broken green glass scattered all over the floor and on a mattress on the ground. I kept thinking how scary that must have been for the girl. Plus, I wondered how a bottle could explode like that.
I was naïve. I was only fifteen! At one point, the officer I was with had a hushed conversation with a sergeant out of anyone’s earshot, including mine. I didn’t see all of the obvious red flags that I see now when I relive this particular story. It just wasn’t in the experience of a fifteen-year-old, middle-class white girl in 1975 that an uncle could molest his own niece and smash a glass bottle over her head. That’s how the bottle “exploded” and it caused a brain bleed. She died hours later while in surgery. By the time our shift ended, we returned to the address where we first interviewed the uncle with an arrest warrant for murder. But he had fled and was on the run.
It was through this same Explorer Scout program that I learned how to perform CPR, a skill that helped me two years later when, at the age of 17, Dad had a fatal heart attack in our home. I tried, but failed, to save his life. I had administered CPR to Dad while he was laying on the bed. For compressions to be successful with CPR, the surface should be firm, like the floor. Any floor. But not on a soft bed with bouncy springs, which is what I used. The first thing paramedics did when they arrived in the room was to pull Dad down onto the floor to work on him, and that’s when I realized my mistake. Believing initially that I had killed my dad, but too afraid to say anything to anyone, it wasn’t until I read his autopsy report two weeks after the funeral that I felt a sense of relief. The report showed that Dad’s coronary artery was 95% blocked and that a piece of plaque broke loose and created an occlusion, or a total blockage. No amount of CPR could have saved him. Suffice to say, I was exposed to trauma at an early age.
I kept myself busy by getting a horse and I began taking lessons in dressage and jumping lessons with a sixteen-year-old feisty red head named Lynn Norton. She was a talented 3-Day Eventer, an Olympic horse sport that includes a dressage test, cross country jumping, and stadium jumping over a three-day period. Lynn and I quickly became best friends, training horses together many times a week, sneaking into bars (I was eighteen Lynn seventeen) with fake IDs on weekends, and even driving 1,500 miles together from Fresno, California all the way to Alberta, Canada to attend a wild and drunk cowboy-infested massive rodeo known as The Calgary Stampede.
Jumping horses was so much fun—scary, but I loved the adrenaline! I initially had a crazy chestnut Arabian gelding named Junior who nearly killed me twice. Lynn talked sense into me and helped me to sell Junior and found the best horse for me, ever! His name was McDuffy and he was a massive, 17 hand tall white Percheron / Leopard Appaloosa gelding.
A horse is measured from the ground to their withers (shoulder blades) and one “hand” equals four inches. I was 5’7” and my head just barely reached McDuffy’s withers! I gave him the show name “The Hindenburg” because when I bought him, he was not only very tall, he was also overweight! I got him in shape and discovered that my horse loved to jump about as much as I loved to party!
I was able to show McDuffy several times in both dressage and in one 3-day event, but ultimately it all came to a sad end. I had a terrible fall while jumping my horse over a large fence during a training session with Lynn. I fractured my back, was bed-ridden for a month, couldn’t work, and I couldn’t ride my horse. Just a few months after the fall, while I was still recovering from my back injury, I received a phone call from the stables where McDuffy was boarded. My horse was very sick. The veterinarian worked on him all day, but my sweet, gentle giant went downhill fast. The necropsy showed that McDuffy had a strangulated lipoma tumor that had wrapped around his intestines. I was devastated.
I never did have the heart to return to riding or jumping horses again. Instead, my hobby shifted to training dogs and pursuing police work. The gross, the smelly, the utterly dangerous, and the unbelievable things that I saw during my teens years where I was exposed to “the streets” were actually feeding my need for excitement and adrenaline. Take note of this: when destiny speaks to your heart like it did to mine in my teens, listen!
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.