Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Veterinary Medicine

Nation's top disaster search and rescue dog at VTH

May 20, 2010

One of the top disaster response and search and rescue dogs in the nation was at Colorado State University's Animal Cancer Center this week for a check-up following treatment for cancer last fall.

Famous, successful career

Sage the "wonder dog"

(5 images)

Sage, a 11-year-old border collie, was certified by FEMA as a canine disaster response dog.

Sage lives in New Mexico with her trainer, Diane Whetsel.

Sage first came to the CSU Animal Cancer Center on Nov. 16, 2009, to have a mass in her chest examined.

Sage underwent surgery at VTH to remove a mass in her right lung and one close to her heart.

Sage recovered well from surgery and has continued her work as a search and rescue dog.

Sage has a famous career in the field, starting with a tough first job when she was just two years old: looking for – and successfully finding – the body of the terrorists who flew the airplane into the Pentagon on 9/11. Since then, the 11-year-old border collie has:

  • searched for Natalie Holloway in Aruba
  • for victims of hurricanes Rita and Katrina
  • led U.S. military forces in their searches for missing soldiers in Iraq for six months
  • been involved in numerous searches for missing persons and for forensic evidence in murder cases

Bounty on her head in Iraq

As a K-9 dog in Iraq, Sage worked with a $85,000 bounty on her because she could smell and show U.S. forces where the enemy had hidden or buried weapons.

Sage, who lives in New Mexico, came to CSU’s Animal Cancer Center on Nov. 16 to have a mass in her chest examined. She was one of the first dogs to receive at PET/CT scan at the hospital, and the scan also revealed a mass in her right lung. She quickly underwent surgery to remove both masses, including one which was close to her heart.

Sage recovered well from surgery and has continued her work as a search and rescue dog. Doctors at CSU’s VTH remain cautiously optimistic that her prognosis is good and will continue to monitor her health.

Named top search and rescue dog by American Kennel Club

Just three weeks following her surgery, Sage was named the top search and rescue dog in the nation by the American Kennel Club, earning the ACE, or Award for Canine Excellence, award in December.

Sage was born in England and brought to the United States when she was 10 weeks old by Diane Whetsel, a corrections and gang unit officer in New Mexico, who trained her. Sage was certified by FEMA as a canine disaster response dog when she was 18 months old. When not working, she travels to schools and community organizations to give demonstrations.

Now an ambassador for dogs with cancer

She has recently become an ambassador for dogs with cancer, participating in a walk to raise funds for human cancer research in Roswell, where she got to go onstage and represent dogs with cancer and help provide education for pet owners about animal cancer treatments as well as about how animal cancer innovations can help people with cancer.

On June 1, Sage will participate in Camp Enchantment, a weeklong camp in New Mexico for children with cancer as their canine cancer survivor representative.

Sage Foundation for Dogs

Whetsel has started a fund, the Sage Foundation for Dogs, to help K-9 dogs who are ill or injured, often as a result of their work.


Contact: Dell Rae Moellenberg
E-mail: dellrae.moellenberg@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6009