The time had finally arrived. It was matchmaking time at Sundowners Kennels in Gilroy, CA. Three firefighters had recently completed their Search Dog Foundation (SDF) training course and were anxious to meet their new canine partners. Marin County Fire Captain Jim Boggeri wondered which dog would be his match. Then he spotted the beautiful yellow Lab. “As the dogs were brought out to meet us, Recon came bounding over at 60 miles per hour. I took one look and knew: we're made for each other! Our personalities just jibed," remembers Jim.
Recon was originally donated to SDF by Lab breeders Bethany and Mike McGahan because they believed that he had the energy and drive that SDF is always on the lookout for in a good search dog. Recon is known for his great focus, intensity and energy. He is always excited to take on any task as the Lab has found his dream job.
The name of Recon has a special meaning. Stephen Doyle and other members of the New York Fire Department (FDNY) hockey team were the first to donate to the SDF program when it began many years ago. When Stephen contacted SDF and explained that his team member and fellow firefighter had died in the line of duty at the World Trade Center; he wanted to honor his friend Timmy memory. He asked “that an SDF trained disaster search dog be named after Timmy's FDNY ladder company, Ladder 3, whose nickname is "Recon."
Jim and Recon have been deployed to several disasters, including both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They were also on hand to assist during the California mudslides. “It was treacherous for the residents,” remembers Jim. “The working conditions were very different from what we train in, but the dogs never quit. As rescue workers removed mud and debris, we would bring the dogs back in and re-work the area. They searched in very confined spaces below the house and in voids behind the walls. We were evacuated from the structure several times due to recurring mudslides. Recon's understanding of the search in such an adverse environment was amazing."
Recon and his handler have become an Advanced Certified FEMA disaster search team. Jim has also been appointed SDF Bay Area Training Group Leader and is in charge of the weekly training sessions of all SDF teams in the Bay Area region. Jim says that he is living his dream and wants others to follow in his path. “Understand the nature of the job and the commitment needed. Enjoy the successes, understanding that the highs and lows are extremes that will test your limits. Failure is simply not an option. I would like my legacy to be my commitment to fire service, and my respect and allegiance to my canine partner and the Search Dog Foundation."