We recently brought you the story of Golden Austin, and now have updated information about a “Celebration of Life” memorial that will be held in Austin, TX on March 6th.
When the AKC has announced the winners of the first Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) in 2000, Golden Retriever Austin, owned by Officer Jim Minton, of Austin, Texas, was their Search and Rescue recipient.
A classic Cinderella story: A bedraggled stray is turned in to the Greater Houston Golden Retriever Club’s rescue program and, after a few twists of fate, becomes an honored search-and-rescue dog. Austin’s inspiring story culminates in his work at the site of the Texas A&M bonfire collapse that killed 12 people and injured 27 others.
According to his handler, Officer Jim Minton, Austin was one important working Golden.
Austin has been on overseas assignments three times and one trip involved us being evacuated out of the region by the U. S. Customs and DEA air wing. This was after thugs had placed a $30,000 price tag on Austin to kill or kidnap him. This is nothing unusual. Drug dogs working the border often face the very same threat.
Austin himself was found and rescued as a puppy from the woods east of Houston, Texas, by hunters. He was then turned over to a Greater Houston Golden Retriever Club’s rescue program , where Texas Hearing and Service Dogs purchased him and provided testing and training before donating him to the Austin Police Department in January 1999. Austin has since been trained to rescue people. On
October 28, 2000 Mayor Kirk Watson proclaimed that date “K-9 Austin Day” for the City of Austin. On November 11, 2000 Austin was inducted into the Texas Animal Hall of Fame.
Austin was certified in Tracking, Cadaver, and Chemical Biological Detection. After Jim retired from the Austin Police Department, where Austin was on the job from 1999 to 2004, he and Austin began working at the Federal Level specializing in Chemical-Biological Detection (2004-2008). Jim Minton, a Senior Law Enforcement K-9 Handler/Instructor and Senior K-9 Chemical-Biological Specialist for U.S. Govt. and U.S. Military Response only.
A Very Sad Ending
Police K-9 Austin died on February 16, 2008 in his loving handler’s arms. He had been rushed into emergency surgery due to having developed bloat, and managed to survive the procedure. However, shortly after waking up his vitals deteriorated and as Jim so desolately said:
Austin looked at me, wide awake and alert, took a deep breath, exhaled, laid his head down, I kissed him, monitors started sounding, and Austin left this cruel world.
Jim has indicated that there will be a special police K-9 memorial service for this 10-11 year old hero. And, he shared this heartfelt message with me on February 21st:
Rochelle, thank you so much for the kind words. I don’t know how much more of this excruciating pain I can endure. I know other people hurt just like I am when they loose a Golden. So I’m not doing the “poor me” thing. But Dammmmm this is killing me. He and I were together for more than 10 years nearly 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.
I’m sure Greg and Carrie haven’t told you, but they have been absolutely totally 100% percent sweethearts. They trusted me enough to allow their Golden “Pippy” to come home with me the night of the day Austin died. Pippy slept in bed with me and was spoiled rotten for nearly 24 hours. The only stipulation was, I had to bring her home the next day. I called the next afternoon and tried to convince Greg that they said just bring her back next year! LOL But he was too slick and caught on! (Actually my friend called for me) My voice would not work from my crying so much.) I must tell you, I had already planned on staying in a hotel room that night because the pain was just too much when I tried to go home. However, Carrie and Greg being considerate and giving as they are, allowed me to sleep in my own bed with a very loving Golden.
This was so sudden and unexpected. Running and playing just 24 hours prior to his death. I must tell you, At one time, 3 veterinarians and 7 vet techs were working on Austin all at one time. They fought to save his life for nearly 18 solid hours. You can only imagine the tremendous invoice! No big deal as I say. It’s only money. They were given unlimited financial authority and CPR was authorized during surgery of needed.
I just found out today that the U. S. Department of Defense is sending a flag that was flying in a war zone in Iraq the day Austin died. A couple of guys I helped with on some special training just prior to their deployment managed to make this happen. They both petted on Austin throughout the entire 2 weeks of training. Another flag is coming from a U. S. Embassy overseas where we were assigned for a short time on a specific assignment. In short, Austin has a following. Hell, I should have run fro President when he was around. But, even though it’s getting exciting, it does NOT bring my baby home.
You can learn more about Austin’s story at his page at our foundation’s site. Just click here.