K-9 Viking has a vest

Today the Warwick, RI Police Department hosted a Vesting Ceremony for K-9 Viking. Viking received his bullet/stab resistant vest from Vested Interest in K-9’s Inc. founded by Sandy Marcal. The money to purchase the vest was raised as a result of Barb’s hard work and the generosity of the Alta-Tollhaus family in memory of our beloved Ivan.

The Warwick Police Department has not had a K9 program since their last K9 Officer retired in 2009.

We attended the ceremony and had the chance to meet the Warwick Police Department Command Staff, Officer Aaron Steere and Viking.  Viking is a Working Line German Shepherd Dog from Czechoslovakia who came to the Warwick PD six months ago. He is just under 2.5 years old and lives with Officer Steere, his wife and children when off duty. He is a great dog with a super personality.

We are very proud that through your generosity K-9 Viking now has a vest to protect him. Hopefully he and Officer Steere will have a long and safe career.

Our sincerest thanks to Barb and all the rest of the AT family for making this tribute in celebration of Ivan’s life possible. He will always be with us.

Opening remarks by Colonel McCartney

Officer Steere putting the vest on Viking with Sandy Marcal looking on

Officer Steere and his wife with Viking 

This is the embroidered patch that is on Viking’s vest. When he is wearing the vest the patch is under his chest.


Update on K9 Vest

Yesterday we received an e-mail from Sandy of Vested Interest in K-9s. The vest that was ordered in celebration of Ivan’s life has been issued to a Police Dog in Rhode Island.

From the beginning Vested Interest have wanted us to be involved in deciding which dog would get the vest. Originally there was a dog in Massachusetts that needed a vest and we wanted it to go to him. When he graduated from the Police Academy Canine Training the department paid for the vest themselves so that another dog in need could benefit from this gift. Sandy told us about a GSD in Warwick, Rhode Island that was currently working without a vest. We felt that there was a connection there, as Ivan earned his CDX in his last obedience trial in Warwick, and decided that this dog should get the vest. He had to be measured as these vests are custom-made to fit each dog.

Here is K9 Viking of the Warwick, RI Police Department wearing his new vest.

The vest has this embroidered inscription.

We will be attending a Vesting Ceremony sometime in September or early October. We will be sure to post pictures.

Thank you all again so much for your love and support that made this vest possible .

Barb, thanks so much for all of your hard work to pull this all together. It means so much to us.

Lynda and Jack



Remembering our friends at Dog Chapel

In St. Johnsbury, Vermont, there’s an amazing 150 acre sanctuary for dogs and their humans called Dog Mountain, which features a place so unique in its loveliness, words cannot do it justice.

It’s called Dog Chapel, created by the late artist Stephen Huneck to serve as a place for people to grieve and even leave messages for their departed dogs. His widow, Gwen, now maintains the entire property, which is free and open to the public.

As soon as I found out about Dog Chapel, I knew I had to go and leave a message for the friends we lost in the fire, and for other Alta-Tollhaus dogs I felt a close connection with.  So this morning, I got Batman in the car, bright and early, and we headed to the Chapel.

Below are the tributes I left for Alta-Tollhaus Maika, Allie, Heike, Verdae, Ivan and Odin. I will do a separate post on the adventures Batman and I had on Dog Mountain — this one is dedicated to remembering our lost friends.

I placed their photos around this stained glass window featuring a dog playing in the water because all A-T dogs love the water. There’s even a yellow ball in the window — perfect!

I put Maika and Odin together because Odin was Maika’s son. Also, he was just a puppy when he died, and I thought he might want to be near his mom.

Message to Maika:

Party Girl, the standard-bearer, the model,

Charming and loving and sweet,

We can’t believe you are gone,

And we will never forget you.

Message to Odin, Josie’s Perfect Puppy:

Dear Odin, you are so loved and will never be forgotten. You live forever in your momma’s heart. You don’t have to worry because Koda has come to take care of your boy, and to bring laughter back into your home. Run and dig free at the bridge, sweet puppy!

Message to Allie:

You were our favorite comedian, the class clown,

Mother of escape artists and goofballs,

The most expressive of faces, the sweetest of souls,

We see you unlatching gates at the bridge,

Your spirit lives on — whenever we laugh in good humor rather than sigh in exasperation,

That is your spirit lifting us. 

I placed Ivan next to a heroic police dog named Mica that died of Lymphoma because Ivan was a hero dog to so many of us, and he was also a member of a police family.

In loving memory of Jack and Lynda’s Ivan, handsome champion, hero dog, and role model.

Finally, I said goodbye to all our friends that died in the fire. Rest in peace, sweet souls.

Update on the K9 Vested Interest Donations for Ivan

I am so pleased to be able to let you know that the Vested Interest K-9s now have the funds to sponsor a K-9 Vest from the donations in memory of Ivan.
Here is what we need to do next:
1)  Pick the dog to sponsor.  Before Sandy left town this week, she let me know that there is a Massachusetts dog waiting that she has in mind.  I expect to hear from her on Monday with the specifics about that dog
      along with any others that you might want to consider for the sponsorship.  She likes to move quickly, so is email the best way for me to be in touch, or would you like me to give you a call, or would you like to speak
      to Sandy directly?   Please let me know what you prefer.
2)  In the meantime, I would like to confirm what you would like embroidered on the Vest……  One suggestion is:  “In Memory of Alta-Tollhaus Ivan”
     Up to two lines are allowed.
3)  Can I get your address for both VIK-9’s and The Cape and Islands K-9 Relief Fund.  I have asked them to please send acknowledgements for the donations directly to you….of course, as long as that is ok by you.
At the Relief Fund, I have been speaking with Joe Ambrossini over the last couple of months, and I just informed him that I am ready to send a donation  that the friends and family of Alta-Tollhaus German Shepherds have contributed for the Relief Fund in Memory of Ivan.
I really wish I had a better flair for words, because I know this news must be very bittersweet.  Ivan will never be forgotten, and he is dearly missed.
Warmest wishes,

A visit to Julie’s.

On Wednesday we went out to Michigan to visit with Julie. This was a highly emotional trip for us. After a lot of soul-searching and getting advice from many, we decided that we need to fill the void in our lives with another Alta-Tollhaus puppy. This quote from Irene helped us with our decision:

“Each arrived in our lives and home ready to take us on an unrivaled adventure. They all did those shepherd things that have us addicted to this breed. However, each one also arrived with a special mission and tackling it head on. They knew they weren’t here to fill a hole in our hearts left by their amazing predecessors. They came to make a new place, new memories and to show us how to move on. They came to teach us that moving forward and loving again is the best way to honor those who came before”.

After arriving and meeting with  Julie we were pleased and surprised that Tiffany, Andrea, Michelle and Lisa took time out of their day to be there to support us. We all got the chance to play with the A and B litters. After playing with the pups we went to lunch and were joined by Charlene. It is so nice to meet AT family members in person that we have only gotten to know on the blog. Just before leaving to go Gustavo’s to watch the training, Julie presented us with a memorial in Celebration of Ivan’s life. A large donation from many in the AT family was made to both the “Vested Interest in K-9’s, Inc”. for a gunshot/stab proof vest for a working K9 and the “Cape and Islands Police K-9 Relief Fund” all in Ivan’s memory. We were overwhelmed by the generosity.

Thank you all so much for your love, support and understanding during this most difficult time for us. A special thanks to Barb for all the work she did to provide this very special honor for Ivan.

Although we did not post this before, we also received this beautiful Japanese Maple tree from Alta-Tollhaus in memory of Ivan. It has been planted in a prominent spot in our front garden.

Lynda and Jack