Life on Whidbey: Heroes take a bow-wow

Three four-legged guests at last week’s Red Cross Heroes Breakfast wore brightly colored vests bearing their names. They came forward with their human companions to receive their share of credit for saving lives.

Ola, 5, is a yellow Labrador; Tess, also 5, is a black Lab; and Zoom, 4, is a Jack Russell terrier. They are seldom seen when on the job, tracking scents in shadowy places. What is deadly serious work to their handlers is like a game to them.

The dogs are part of Whidbey Search Dogs and respond to law enforcement agencies’ request for support day or night in all conditions. When you need them, there’s no time to train.

The group went out last Sept. 19 to look for an elderly man in the Langley area. It wasn’t long before he was found and taken to receive medical attention.

Members train at least five to eight days a month for up to three years before becoming qualified to take part in a search response.

Thanks to JERRY BECK, Clinton; EDITH BRYAN, Greenbank; LAURIE CECIL, Clinton; KATHY EYTH, Freeland; LARRY GARDINER, Langley; SUSAN MARCHESE, Freeland; ELAINE MARLOW, Oak Harbor; MARI SAINT-AMAND, Freeland; and BRIAN VICK, Langley. We feel lucky to have you in our community.

Meet at the barn …

“Come on over,” say LORI, LEE, THOMAS and EMMA SPEAR. Your presence is requested from 3 to 6 p.m. this Friday as they dedicate the new barn at Hummingbird Farm Gardens and Nursery, 2319 Zylstra Road. Helping them coordinate the event is the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, the Spears will host a spring open house and garden stroll from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., along with the first “Art in the Barn” arts and crafts fair showcasing local Whidbey artists and crafters.

The Periwinkle Pacers, the Spears’ Relay for Life team, will have baked goods for sale, there will be nursery specials and door prizes. Receive special discounts throughout the year when you purchase a limited edition T-shirt or tote.

Lee’s free Saturday Garden Chats kick off from 9 to 10 a.m. on March 24 and will run each Saturday morning through August.

Call 679-5044 or visit

See Danielle go …

There are many bright young people in our community who are on the fast track to their future careers. DANIELLE M.S. O’CONNOR is one of them.

The 2003 Coupeville High School graduate and participant in the Skagit Valley College Running Start program graduated from UW last August with a 3.5 GPA.

Danielle gets the most out of life by staying busy, working as a research assistant for Harborview Hospital and starting her master’s degree in September. On days when she could sleep in, she does volunteer work. Her parents are AMY WITT of Oak Harbor and DON O’CONNOR of Coupeville.

Remember Cookie?

JIM LOTZGESELL remembers Cookie McCrea well and how VP-2 had a cheesecake photo of the lovely young lady for some time until it mysteriously disappeared. The trail has grown cold, but Jim suspects the pin-up is gracing some admiral’s recreation room. He’s not about to give up hope. Call him at 279-8287.

Beauty & brains …

BREANNA SOTO has been accepted to the University of Washington. She’ll study history and languages and leave her career options open. She and her late grandmother BARBARA MASON shared a remarkable bond. I recall Barbara telling me that when she first held Breanna as an infant, she sensed this girl would make things happen. She has.

Are you ready?

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7392 is serious about training in disaster preparedness through Community Emergency Response Team Training, known as CERT.

The auxiliary is hosting CERT training beginning March 24. The 20-hour course will continue Saturday, March 31 and will be completed on Saturday, April 7, with a staged disaster to test participants with what they have learned.

Training will be held at the American Legion Hall, 690 SE Barrington Drive, Oak Harbor. A donation of $25 is asked of participants as a fund-raiser for disaster preparedness kits for deployed armed forces family members.

Call Kathi Naff or Rose Ring-Pohlena at 675-0968, 360-941-3621 or 360-969-2624.

See you on March 21. Call me at 675-6611 or write to