X Factor

September 27, 2011  

A search and rescue dog named X excels at all her jobs – from finding people to therapy pet to great companion

Not only is X a certified therapy dog and faithful companion, she’s also the first pit bull on the Rhode Island State Police search and rescue disaster team (see the video here). StubbyDog recently chatted with her guardian, Alicia Seguin, about how X got started in search and rescue work and how the pair work to change perceptions about pit bull type dogs.

Q: How did X get involved in search and rescue? What made you think she would be good at that?

A: X and I got involved with search and rescue when she was 10 months old. A K-9 handler suggested that X would make a great search and rescue dog. Pit bulls are naturally family dogs. They also tend to be brave and agile.

X has the endurance and heart to please. I thought pursuing search and rescue work was great idea, especially since she is a pit bull. I wanted her to be an asset to the community. X is an air scenting dog. We are on two teams: a wilderness team and the state disaster team (both volunteer). She is trained to find people lost in the woods and buried under rubble. She is certified in wilderness (four years) and light disaster (one year).

When X was a puppy, we trained two to three days a week for wilderness. For disaster, we train usually two to three days a week, then every other Saturday. If there are five people lost in the woods, X is trained to find each one of them. When X finds you, she licks you! She is a kissy girl.

Q: How did X come into your life?

A: I always wanted a pit bull. X was the runt of a litter, and I got her as a puppy. She is a highly intelligent dog. My parents weren’t happy when I brought her home, since at the time we had a 13-year-old Yorkie who lived like a queen. But my parents and family took quickly to X, and now she is quite spoiled. She is a 5-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier. To her friends and family, she is called “Xe.” Since I own a dog grooming and doggie daycare facility, X has been coming with me to work from the first day I got her. She loves other dogs and adores people. She spends her days playing ball at school and her nights hanging on the couch or going to her grandparents house for chicken and pasta.

Q: How do other people respond to X because she is an American Pit Bull Terrier?

A: Many times people will ask me what kind of dog I have, and when I say pit bull I get dirty looks and nasty comments. Both my parents and aunt and uncle quickly come to X’s defense and straighten the person out immediately. That’s their granddaughter (lol)!

People often have negative comments to say about X because of her breed. Sometimes I get very upset because I feel like they are talking about my child. However, I have learned to let it roll off my back. X is the most loveable, sweetest, loyal dog around. Instead of getting angry, I simply state the facts:

• X is a search and rescue dog.
• X is the only pit bull on the volunteer K-9 disaster team for the Rhode Island State Police.
• X is a K-9 good citizen (we never had to take the course – she went in, took the test and passed with flying colors at barely 1 year old).
• X is a pet therapy dog who goes into nursing home and hospitals to bring joy to people.
• Along with our teammates, we go into schools and do presentations to teach little children what to do if they are lost in the woods (hug a tree).
• X is a mentor for pet therapy dogs – we do presentations at pet therapy meetings.

Q: How is X at home versus while working?

A: X definitely gives me a run for my money at times. She is typical terrier stubborn! She is also afraid of cats!

When it is time for X to go to work, she is all work; she puts on her vest and is ready. She was originally trained to do a re-find like Lassie: i.e. “What’s wrong girl?” – Lassie comes up, gets them and brings them to Timmy. For X, I will say “What is it girl, what do you have?” For disaster work she is trained to stay at the hole and bark until I get to her.

Q: How do your coworkers respond to X, and what do they say about her?

A: Everyone loves X – my family friends coworkers, etc. She is very well behaved and down to earth. She just wants to please me (her other nickname is love bug). She lays in your lap at night and cuddles under the covers in bed. Like a police officer and their K-9, X is my partner also. If we’re out looking for someone, we depend solely on each other.

Without X, I would be lost. She has taught me so many things about trust and about myself. X is one of the best things that has ever come into my life. She is truly my best friend.

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10 Responses to “X Factor”
  1. Love the story..Stubby ya’ll bring the best stories to the forefront! X is a beautiful dog. Love the picture of X yawning. These are so intune with what’s going on. My daughter wasn’t feeling well and Sasha stayed snuggled up with my daughter and every time she got of the bed Sasha was right there with her (even when my daugther went to the bathroom) lol I love my pitties

  2. Kulke says:

    What a fantastic ambassadors to the Pitt Bull breed.

    i read the story’s and wish are Pitt Bull;s here in England, had the same chance to prove themselves for what they can be, a most remarkable breed of dog

  3. MollyTamulevich says:

    This is such a great story! I love that you can let negative comments roll off your back and focus on the facts. The pictures are wonderful too. The last one made me laugh out loud!

  4. millermorgan says:

    As more police forces use pitties, it will only help change the image of this wonderful “breed.” It’s not the dog, it’s the training/owner. Xe is gorgeous!!! Pitties ROCK.

  5. justcassie101 says:

    I know this dog! I had the extreme pleasure of meeting X at the @New England Bully Breed Club ‘s (www.nebbc.org) first annual Yard Sale Fundraiser! Alicia & X are awesome.. X does some awesome tricks, too.. My favorite is her jumping up into her mum’s arms! BIG GIANT kudos to Alicia & X. Thank you so much for all that you guys do to better the name, and we hope to see you when you have a moment of time to come to another event 🙂 I was SO excited to see you on Stubbydog!!! Congratulations!! -@Cassie-Leigh Stock, President, NEBBC