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Students Get Visit From Search Dog They Made Book About

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By Eric Louie For The Contra Costa Times

Alamo, CA — Pearl, the once homeless search and rescue dog whose story was turned into a children’s book by Rancho Romero Elementary students, visited the Alamo school Tuesday.

She was accompanied by her handler, Ron Horetski, a captain with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Pearl is one of six search-and-rescue dogs on the California Task Force 2 urban search and rescue team, and helped after this year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. She marked where there were signs of life under collapsed buildings so others could make rescues.

Longtime classroom volunteer Allyn Lee, who had a daughter in second-grade teacher Connie Forslind’s class, wrote the book “A New Job for Pearl.” Students drew the illustrations. Lee’s research led her to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and information about Pearl, a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever. Pearl had been living in an animal shelter after running away many times before being adopted to become a search dog. The story explains how she was energetic and athletic, not good qualities for someone who wanted a calm pet but good qualities for a search dog.

The class made 3,000 copies of the book, about 1,500 of which were bought by the search dog foundation. The goal is to sell the remaining books to raise $10,000 for the foundation — the cost of training one dog.

Lee had worked with Forslind’s previous second-grade classes and created two other books based on animals helping out after disasters — one after the 2004 tsunami in Asia and the other after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina — but this was the first based on a true story.

To get a copy of “A New Job for Pearl,” which sells for a $10 donation, call Lee at 925-588-8180.

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