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You might call Roger, an eight-year-old labrador retriever, a failure. He was born into a narcotic detection dog training center, but didn’t have the stuff to be a drug sniffing dog.

WhoRoger, an 8-year-old lab
WhenAfter a historic earthquake killed 13
WhereTaroko National Park, Taiwan
WhatGave Taiwan hope while doing search and rescue duties
HowThe exuberant personality that led to his failure as a narcotic detection dog

Chen Chih-san, captain of the rescue dog unit of the Kaohsiung Fire Department explained, “I’m not saying he was not good or that he didn’t get along with others. But the requirement for narcotic detection dogs is that they can’t be too restless and independent.”

Roger is both of those things. He loves food. And he especially loves people. I’ll go ahead and say it, Roger is a fun-loving spazz. His puppy-like personality was on full display when he was interviewed on the national news and tried to take a chomp out of the reporter’s microphone.

At one year old, the detection training center that had been Rogers home sent him packing. His report card: failing to focus and listen to commands. Never mind that Roger is smart, friendly, endlessly curious, and determined. His drug detective career was over.

What’s news to me is that search and rescue dogs need an intelligent, independent streak. Chen said Roger’s unique attributes, “are what we want in rescue dogs.” So Roger found a home at rescue training school. And boy did the goodest boy excel. By 2022 he earned a certification from the International Rescue Dog Organization. That’s a recognition no Taiwanese rescue dog has achieved since 2019.

Roger is a veteran of earthquake rescue, responding to a 6.4-magnitude quake in 2018. But he had no way of knowing how much Taiwan would need him again. Then Taroko National Park on Taiwan’s eastern coast was rocked by the biggest earthquake the nation’s seen in 25 years: a 7.4-magnitude monster.

The nation was glued to the news as rescue teams combed the area, finding 13 people killed by the disaster. And on the front lines was Roger, leading the charge to help. He raed up Shakadang Trail, finding a way to navigate the rubble to search for survivors. Sadly, he found the body of a 21-year-old woman who had died in the quake.

Roger found something else: his energy and determination was enough to give the people of Taiwan a bit of hope during the tragedy. And his comic chomps at microphones didn’t hurt. One commenter said, “Roger is the pride of Taiwan.” Another said to two and four-legged rescuers, “Keep it up, heroes and little heroes.”

One of the veterans of the search and rescue team, Roger is eight. At nine years old, Taiwan will retire him and seek a foster home. Something tells me Roger, once rejected by his first home, will have no shortage of forever families clambering to take him in.

Next, read about the dog that ran a mile to get help after her owner’s car crash, or watch Roger at work in the video below: