Customer Spotlight: Ember the Fire Dog

Customer Spotlight: Ember the Fire Dog

Meet real-life Nature’s Select customer of ours: Ember! She’s a Facility Dog specializing in Peer Support for her local fire department in Southern California. Learn more about the amazing work she does and read our special interview with her handler and dad, Mike, below! Mike is a fire fighter for Orange City Fire Dpt.

Ember the Fire Dog

Tell us about Ember. Ember is a 1-year-old Field Golden Retriever. She is a peer support therapy dog for Orange City Fire Department. Watch her getting sworn in here! Her favorite hobby is running into the ocean and meeting new people! She loves any toy she gets, but her “Snuggle Puppy Plush” has yet to be chewed through, so it must have a special place in her heart. One fun fact about Ember is that she is the first and only Facility Dog for our fire department, which currently has over 100 firefighters.  She works 48 Hours per week with her handler and, on her days off, returns to her home as our family dog.


Share about yours & Ember's journey. Ember was originally supposed to be just a family dog. As a kid, my dream was always to play fetch with my own Golden Retriever. During my first year as a firefighter, my station captain brought his Yorkie into work. I saw firsthand the sense of calm and joy a single dog brought to the firehouse crew. Fast forward to 9 years later, I decided to create a Therapy Dog Program for my current fire department. At ten weeks old, Ember began her road to becoming a Facility Dog through Next Step Service Dogs out of San Diego, California. She has received her A.K.C. STAR Puppy, A.K.C. Canine Good Citizen, and Pet Partners Therapy Dog titles. She is continuously training and working hard to receive the highest level of A.D.I. certification. Her purpose is simple: to help first responders cope with the stresses seen on a day-to-day basis. She opens the door for future dogs and serves as an icebreaker to Mental Health Awareness. 

What's a common misconception about therapy dogs? Firefighters and Dogs have a long history together, the classic Dalmatian's purpose was to tend to the horses in the stable and lead the horse-drawn carriage to the fire. Advancements in equipment brought the steam engine and replaced the horses which then led to Dalmations losing their purpose in the station altogether. Today, the firefighter-dog relationship has resurged and evolved. First Responders are exposed to many significant tragedies compounded over a 30-year career. Dogs reentered the firehouse to help first responders cope with what is seen, heard and felt during incidents. 


What’s the difference between Service Dogs and Facility Dogs? A Service Dog is the highest level for any dog classification. Service Dogs are protected under ADA laws. Service Dogs are designated to a single person with a specific medical purpose for that individual. Facility Dogs are trained to serve many people. Although Facility dogs are very important they do not fall under ADA laws. Ember is currently going through the Next Step Service Dogs program and she will receive the same high level of training as a Service Dog, but once completed will not be considered a Service Dog because her purpose is to help many people.

Give us a typical "day in the life" of Ember on the job. Ember starts her shift at 4 am in the morning with her handler at home in San Diego, CA. We have a long commute to Orange, CA. During the drive, she can be found curled up in a ball, sleeping in the backseat with the seat warmer underneath her. She arrives at the Station and greets the crew as they are leaving work and coming on duty. She loves to spend the morning getting pets and scratches preferably behind the ear. Around 9 am, she gets excess energy out by training, playing fetch, prolonged sit & stays, and reading cue cards. I found that she works better for treats; at 9:15 am, she builds up a hearty appetite and eats 2 cups worth of Select Cold Water Recipe with the occasional blueberries in her bowl. After breakfast she will go for a long walk in the neighborhood. The remainder of the day depends on how busy the fire station is. Throughout the day she loves spending quality time with her firefighters. Some days, she will have Public Relations events and meet many new people. On other days, she can be found sleeping under the firefighter chair, taking a much-needed break. No day is quite the same for her. At 6 pm, she gets her much-anticipated dinner while the crew eats their food.  Around 9 pm the yawns begin, and she will find her way into her happy place, her cozy kennel in the firehouse. Truly, the Ruff life of Ember the fire dog!

Ember eats Nature's Select

Why feed Nature's Select? When we first got Ember we went to the local Big Box Pet Food store. It was super overwhelming; I want Ember to live as long and healthy a life as possible. But walking down the aisle, I had no idea what was good for her or not. We tried all the "Healthy” expensive dog foods. She could not keep a good weight and started to develop gut issues, too. Trust me when I say it was beyond frustrating. Once we joined the working dog community, it seemed like everyone suggested Nature’s Select.  The organization we work closely with, Next Step Service Dogs, has exclusively fed their dogs Nature’s Select pet food for over 20+ years. Once they spoke so highly of the family brand, I was sold. Since then, Ember has maintained a good weight and a rich, dark golden coat. Oh yeah, and her dog bowls are always licked clean, too. She's on the Select Cold Water Recipe, if she had access to my wallet Nature’s Select goodies would be delivered daily. 

Orange Fire Dog

How to Support Ember the Fire Dog

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