St. Stephen – At a mere 11-years-old, Ayden Burrows seems to have mastered the art of kindness. The Grade 5 student’s birthday was fast approaching, and rather than gifts for himself, Burrows has traditionally asked family and friends to bring donations for various causes to his birthday celebrations. According to his mother, it’s something he has always thought of on his own.
“Last year I did the SPCA, and I was just thinking of cool stuff to do instead of presents,” said Burrows. “And my mom had a search and rescue meeting that day, so I thought maybe I could donate to search and rescue.
“And then Rhonda was talking about Fire, and I searched stuff for the dogs, and found the Buddy Bag, and I thought it would be cool.”
And cool it is.
Sitting at a picnic table on the waterfront in St. Stephen, Burrows looked tentatively at Fire’s handler and owner, Rhonda Hulan. “Can I show her what’s in the bag?” Hulan said of course, and Burrows excitedly picked it up, put it on the table, and carefully unzipped it.
“There’s oxygen masks,” he proudly pulls one from the small duffle bag. “And a burn sheet, and some hydrogen peroxide. It’s got splints and stuff. It’s all for Fire.”
Fire, a Belgian Malinois, is the only certified civilian search and rescue dog in New Brunswick, and calls the Charlotte County Ground Search and Rescue (CCGSAR) group his local.
“If he gets hurt, now he’ll have this to help him,” said Burrows.
The kit, made by the US based group K9 Defender Fund, is only available to certified service dogs, be they with police, military or civilian units, and cost $250 US. Search and rescue dogs can be injured in the field, and the kits are designed to be a mobile first aid unit for them, containing Elasticon Bandage, petrolatum pads, bandage scissors, Eye saline/drops, 3x antibiotic ointment, Side Pocket #2, Slip leashes, Lubricating jelly, Digital thermometer, Cotton balls, Ear cleaner, Styptic powder, WoundSeal, Cotton applicators, Blanket, SAM splint, K9 splint (leg), Burn sheet, Sodium Chloride Saline rinse, Collapsible water bowl, Cold packs (2), Tourniquet, Muzzle, K9 Oxygen mask, BVM bag or K9 trach tube.
The idea is to be able to treat almost any wound Fire may suffer while working in the field.
“We raised over $200 just by donation,” smiles Burrows. The Burrows family then stepped-up, and donated the remainder. “He’s agreed to mow lawns for it,” laughed Hulan.
And what does it mean to Hulan, to have someone do this for Fire, who is both working dog and her companion?
“It’s absolutely amazing. It means everything in the world for – I mean, anyone in the community – but especially youth, to think so much of the search canine and their protection.”
CCGSAR president, Sarah Hind, was also on hand with a thank-you for Burrows. “The Charlotte County search and rescue team was so amazed when they found out you did this, so we wanted to give you your own coat.
“We know you’re planning on joining when you’re 16, but until then you can be our honourary search and rescue member, as a way to say thank-you for being so selfless and thinking of Fire instead of yourself on your birthday.”
Burrows eyes widened and he carefully took the coat. “Oh…cool,” he smiled broadly and tossed the coat he was previously wearing at his younger brother.
“You can wear this one now.”
The K9 Defender Fund accepts donations so they can give Buddy Bags to those who meet the criteria for free.
If you’d like to make a donation, go to www.k9defenderfund.org
If you’d like to be a part of the CCGSAR team, just check out their Facebook page and send a message.