Sage leads the parade held in her hon or, from the sidecar of Patriot Guard co-captain Mike Murphyâ€™s motorcycle, Saturday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
In honor of Sage, local canine war hero, the city of Roswell celebrated Sage Day Saturday alongside a fundraiser for the Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve.
â€œI always tell her that itâ€™s not always about her,â€ Diane Whetsel, Sageâ€™s human companion, said. â€œBut today, I had to tell her â€˜itâ€™s all about you.â€™ Sheâ€™s happy. She loves people. This was fun for her.â€
Sageâ€™s exploits are numerous and worthy of praise. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she worked at the Pentagon. During the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, she served disasters in the Gulf Coast. She has also been on a few tours in Iraq.
â€œShe is not a huge dog or police dog, but she has seen and been in more horrifying places [than most people] and handled it so well,â€ Whetsel said. â€œ[She has been] that soft fur to cry into if a soldier needed to orâ€” just to snuggle with.â€
Sage Day began with a proclamation ceremony at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, where Mayor Del Jurney declared Feb. 26 as Sage Day. Soon after the ceremony, the Patriot Guard Riders and Las Lunas, Las Vegas, N.M., Ruidoso, Ruidoso Downs, and Reservation police departments led a parade down Second Street that ended at Harley Davidson Champion Motorsports.
â€œIâ€™ve never seen any city or community come out for one little dog like this,â€ Whetsel said. â€œThis is amazing â€” itâ€™s awesome.â€
Whetsel hopes the Sage Foundationâ€™s fundraising dollars will be able to help many canines that have been national and public servants.
â€œThis is a national thing,â€ she said. â€œWe want to help all of our dogs â€” our military working dogs, our police dogs, our search and rescue dogs, our FEMA dogs. We want to help out our departments, we want to help out all of these dogs.â€
Whetsel said that itâ€™s important for these dogs to be cared for after their service.
â€œWe donâ€™t want them to end up in a kennel somewhere at the end of their career,â€ she said. â€œWe want them to have the best life that they can have. They deserve the best medical care â€” they deserve the best retirement. Just because of budgets … departments donâ€™t have the money sometimes to do the best for the dogs.â€
Saturdayâ€™s festivities ended with a canine demonstration and raffle at Champion Motorsports and a Fun Run at the Elks Lodge No. 969, where door prizes, totalling $1,200 worth of donated items, were given away.
The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve raised more $6,600 on Saturday for injured and retired dogs. According to MaryAnn Murphy, organizer for Saturdayâ€™s festivities, Sage Day will be an annual event in Roswell for years to come.
â€œDogs are Godâ€™s gifts to humans and they bring out the best in us,â€ Murphy said.
â€œEvery time I see Sage, I just fall more in love with her. These dogs do such a service. They go places where people canâ€™t, sometimes. They pay the price.â€ For information on how to donate to the Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve, visit sagefoundationfordogs.org.