Tribute to Rachel
Below is the tribute I e-mailed to friends and family five days after putting Rachel to sleep. At the time, I was still employed by the American Humane Association and expected to develop lost pet services through the Emergency Animal Relief program. Little did I know that just four months after sending this message I would lose the job at AHA due to budget cuts. The losses of Rachel and of my job were a major setback to my attempts at developing lost pet services. I moved to central California (Clovis) to live with family, and in December 2001, I founded Missing Pet Partnership
From: Kat Albrecht
To: Friends of Kat
Sent: Monday, January 8, 2001
Subject: In Memory of Pet Detective Rachel (1989-2001)
It is with deep grief that I share the sad news that my 11-year old Weimaraner and primary pet detective search dog, Rachel, has passed on. At Christmas, Rachel suddenly went blind and developed severe neurological problems. An MRI on New Years Eve revealed an inoperable brain tumor. I was fortunate that my primary pet detective, Becky Hiatt, was able to fly down and be with me. Becky worked Rachel on most of her pet detective cases and helped us both through this most difficult time. Rachel spent her last moments in this world having what she loved--a pair of my dirty socks, being fed Brie cheese, and having Becky and me by her side. Rachel was put to sleep wearing her bright orange search vest and will be cremated that way--her ashes will eventually be spread in Santa Cruz over the Pognoip Park, the site of her first evidence find, a search that launched my career as a search dog handler.
Rachel's search history includes many searches for guns, physical evidence, homicide victims, and the participation in the 1993 search for Polly Klaas. In 1997 Rachel became one of the nation's first MAR (missing animal response) K9s used exclusively to track and air scent for missing animals. Rachel worked 96 missing animal investigations locating eighteen missing cats, thirteen missing dogs, and physical evidence in fourteen investigations. She searched for dogs, cats, and even a horse, ferret, box turtle, and two boa constrictors. She appeared on television in BREED ALL ABOUT IT, PETS: PART OF THE FAMILY, EXTRA TV, and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER. She also appeared in numerous newspaper articles and People Magazine (June 1999). Eventually you will be able to read many of Rachels' search stories in a book that I am writing. Later this month, Rachel will be featured on Animal Planet's program K9 TO FIVE as she searches for a missing cat named Goose. The episode will air on Saturday January 20th at 11:00 am EST, 8:00am PST.
I was always SO proud to be a "police bloodhound handler." But now I realize that it was not my police bloodhounds, but a wiggly-butt "whiner-amer" named Rachel, who had the biggest impact on my life. Rachel changed the direction of my career, led me down the road from being a cop to becoming a pet detective, opened new doors and new opportunities for me, and taught me everything I ever needed to know about finding lost pets. She has set the standard for what we will now look for in the future MAR K9s that we will train through AHA. If there is a Rainbow Bridge, then I am sure that Rachel is hanging out with all the kitties that she loved so much. She will remain, as Lampman's poem suggests, buried in the "best place to bury a good dog"---deep within my heart.
I love and will forever miss you Ray-Ray.
kat & dogs
Kathy "Kat" Albrecht
Manager, Emergency Animal Relief, Los Angeles
American Humane Association