As a puppy, Briz was rescued by construction workers from the woods near Angoon. As an adult dog, Briz is repaying the life-saving favor by serving in search-and-rescue missions.
This unusual life story landed Briz, a female mixture of herding breeds, a slot as one of 12 animals featured on a new line of greeting cards called "Rescue Stories."
"She has a very unique story that couldn't describe better how wonderful a rescue pet could be and the potential they do have," said Bryce Henderson, co-owner of Paws in Print, a new company in the Los Angeles area that manufactures the cards for profit. "We use it as a 'Congratulations' card. She's sitting on top of a mountain, and the city and the mountains are behind her."
Through the card line, Paws in Print hopes to bring attention to the plight of animals in shelters by showcasing stories of successful adoptions. Each card features a picture of the animal on the front and a short synopsis of its life on the back, told as if it were in the animal's voice.
Patty Crandell and Roxanne Dash of Juneau have owned Briz for almost six years. They found out about the greeting card opportunity online, said Crandell, who belongs to several dog-related e-mail lists, and saw a request from Henderson for pictures and stories about rescue dogs.
"I just sent them one picture and they said, 'That'll do,' " Crandell said. "It's always good to have good PR for humane societies and rescue groups. ... That was the main reason, not because I actually wanted to have a great picture of my dog on a greeting card. It's nice but it's more to just help support them."
Ten percent of the proceeds from Paws in Print cards is donated to help groups save the lives of animals that would otherwise be euthanized. Raising money and awareness were goals of the company, Henderson said.
"We saw that greeting cards could kind of be a way to deliver an additional message," Henderson said. "Pets are very popular on greeting cards, and we thought why not put another message on the back of the card and educate people?"
The company received more than 500 submissions from around the world, mostly for cats and dogs. Briz, a uniquely patterned dog Crandell and Dash describe as an "Angoon beach pebble dog," stood out in looks and background.
The only member of a wild litter that construction workers near Angoon could catch, Briz was brought to the Gastineau Humane Society in Juneau and adopted by Crandell and Dash when she was 9 weeks old. She was energetic and playful, and her owners decided to train her to be a search-and-rescue dog when she was about a year old.
"It's better if you start at seven or eight weeks, so we were a little bit behind," said Crandell. "But I had been training her before that, and she was well-socialized and had done obedience work."
Their efforts paid off. Today, Briz is a member of the Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search, a group of handlers and animals that participates in wilderness searches and rescues.
"I think we just got lucky with Briz because we were pretty clueless when we got her, and she's turned out to be a pretty good dog for us," Crandell said. "The reason I got a dog was to get me out of the house, to force me to hike and stuff, and she does. She's high-energy."
Gift cards featuring Briz and the other animals in the "Rescue Stories" series are available for purchase at www.pawsinprint.com, and soon will be in local stores, Henderson said.
Genevieve Gagne-Hawes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.