Amy Raike has made a career out of helping people — with other first responders and as a canine handler.

     Amy earned her EMT basic certification at 19. A native of Franklin Furnace, a village of less than 2,000 residents in Scioto County, Amy’s parents were that county’s first emergency medical technicians.  

     “I grew up around it and always loved being in the fire department,” she said.

      After spending nearly two decades as an EMT, paramedic and respiratory therapist, she joined Pickaway-Ross Adult Education as the Public Safety coordinator in 2015.

     She was recently honored by the National Registry of EMTs for 20 years of national EMS certifica­tion but has been an EMS for 30 years.

      About five years ago, Amy decided to combine her love of dogs with her passion for helping others and became a canine handler for Ross County Search and Rescue K9 Division and Southern Ohio K9 SAR.

     A friend had a German shepherd that needed to be rehomed and Amy said she would take him.

      “He was a big baby but ornery. He needed a job,” Amy said.

      Amy got in touch with the leader of the dog search team who evaluated him as a potential search and rescue dog.

      “She loved him,” Amy said, adding that Zeke had a lot of drive but he was very reactive. 

      “He fought with the other dogs. He bit one of the handlers. But as I kept working with him and kept loving on him and making him mine he did a complete turnaround.”

      Today, at 5 years old, Zeke goes with Amy when she gives presentations about canine rescue. She also is training 6-month-old Fiona to also be a search-and-rescue dog.

      The dogs each have a specialty: Zeke is trained to find human remains and Fiona is being trained to find people.

      Amy said training Fiona is a little different for her as she is still a puppy. She started working with Zeke when he was 3 years old and already matured. 

      “With Fiona I am dealing with the attention span of a puppy,” she said, but added that the training process is enjoyable. It can take two years for Fiona to be trained and tested before becoming certified.

      One aspect of working with the Ross County Search and Rescue team that Amy loves is that 80 percent of the dogs are rescue dogs.

      “As long as the dog has drive, it can be trained,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where it came from.”