I was so lucky to get a gig producing for NBC's Nightly News and Weekend Today the story of Buddy the Hero Dog! If you haven't seen the video, you can search youtube.com for Buddy the Hero Dog and you'll see! Here is a nice piece from AP: this
On Friday, Buddy was honored in a ceremony for his "integrity and pluckiness," among other things. He received a silver dog bowl engraved with the Alaska State Trooper insignia, and huge bone and plaque. A CBS reporter told me that Buddy's ceremony had the biggest press turnout that he's seen since the Palin days!
That night (really the next morning 3:30AM our time, which is 7:30AM in New York), we prepared to shoot the segment for Weekend Today, which aired live at 8:08 NYC time. It went well, but as you can see, Buddy was very sleepy after his busy day! If you do see the Today video, there is a bit at the end showing Buddy close-up and I was off camera trying to make him look perky! click here to see
Luckily, Trooper Shanigan brought a bag of Yummy Chummies!
The coolest thing about the story is Trooper Shanigan's belief that Buddy was communicating with him during the minute and 45 seconds he spent following Buddy in his car. Trooper Terrence Shanigan is Native (Aleut) and has a team of 16 sled dogs that he is training to be the first Alaska State Trooper dog team. Next winter, they will run portions of the Iditarod Trail and visit bush communities along the way.
Most of Trooper Shanigan's team, if not all, is from bush dog lineage, like Iditarod musher John Baker's dogs out of Kotzebue. Bringing attention to bush dogs is critical, especially now that Bush Vet Eric Jayne is no longer practicing in these communities, bringing much needed spays and neuters and just general vet care. We filmed at a girl's house in Barrow who, when her dog got hit by a snow machine, had to put him on a plane alone for vet treatment in Anchorage. And that's in a huge community like Barrow. Most bush dogs would not get that chance. The Anchorage Daily news did a great audio slideshow featuring Trooper Shanigan discussing communicating with Buddy. Click here to see
On top of the dog stuff, Trooper Shanigan also works with the rescue of orphaned moose calves in the Willow/Talkeetna area.
The other thing to note is that the town that Ben lives in, Caswell, only has a volunteer fire department, and five houses have been lost to fire in Caswell over the past few years. Ben has decided to join the volunteer force, and there is now talk of creating a true fire station in Caswell with help from the Buddy attention!
Anyway, Buddy now has a Facebook page that Trooper Shanigan started (and they're using my pics, very cool!) and it looks like Buddy is receiving a lot of love! One of the youtube videos of the dashboard cam has gotten over 183,000 hits just since yesterday, and I saw a piece on the BBC! Trooper Shanigan tells me that he, Buddy and Ben will be visiting rural communities in the upcoming weeks to talk about fire safety and public safety.
The family is super nice, mom works at the Lowes in Wasilla and dad is a Sloper (works on the North Slope). Ben is a great guy and it was nice to see how close he and Buddy are, they are truly best friends. Ben said that Buddy has saved his life twice before, chasing bears off while Ben was fishing, and I have no doubt that's true! All in all, this was a hectic but fun 24 hours! And as you can see, Ben has a really cute niece who was way more interested in Buddy's bone award than he was!
Trooper Shanigan's dashboard cam video was described by Moira McLaughlin of dogarttoday.com as follows:
Sometimes great art happens inadvertently. This morning, I watched this video captured by an Alaska State Trooper's dashboard camera and I burst into tears. It is so haunting, beautiful, dramatic, and primal. It is the essence of dog love and it is a masterpiece."
click here to see the raw video.
(And for those who suggest that Buddy got spooked by the police car and was just running away from it, note that he stops dead in his tracks when he gets to his driveway!) Here are some pics. The second-to-last one with Ben, Buddy and Trooper Shanigan reminds me so much of a Norman Rockwell painting!