18.9.04

There's a new dog in town

First in a three part series journaling the Animal Broadcast Network's search for the best damn news hound in the country.

Having three dog staffers and two cats in charge of the office makes for a busy day by any standard but when you have to get a newsZine out on schedule, maintain the Animal Broadcast Network updates, and deal with what we nervously refer to around here as the hurricane express the last thing you want to contemplate is "a new dog in town" and yet that is precisely what happened at the home of ABN during the worst possible set of circumstances imaginable: three massive hurricanes in less than one month.

Hurricanes Charley and Frances had already sliced from west and east across our narrow state in less than 10 days forcing us to lock down the paper and head for higher ground, staff included. But we were fortunate and unlike many, human and animal, suffered no real damage other than to our psyche.

The following week began sunny, warm and humid, a typical Florida day. The company calendar revealed that this particular Monday after the storm was set aside for a trip to the veterinarian, part of the negotiated salary and benefits package provided by our employer. All three dogs are senior staffers and this is one of the perks, namely a day out of the office, now and then, an annual physical and a trip in the company car.

8:30 AM and no waiting enter Dr. Kevin, nice guy, a little young but very professional, to administer the guy's annual exam. One hour thirty minutes later everyone leaves with a clean bill of health and a doggy treat, not bad for a morning out. One thing though - came up in consultation - what about the possibility of some new blood in the office, a young turk to kind of fire up the older suits and put some spark back into the publication?

After a meeting of the board, with the publisher and editor it was decided to begin the hunt for a pup reporter with plenty of moxie but no real credentials. Now I don't know about you, but most of our experience with recruiting has been by word-of-mouth or, as in the case of the three senior staff, who were volunteers to the publishing game and came up through the school of hard knocks with enough savvy and determination to build the best damn news organization since CBS, the Cat Broadcast System. To go out on the net and actually research a potential hire didn't seem right, but that's the nature of the 21st century market place, who was I to say otherwise; put in the call to pet resources.

Early on it was determined that what this network needed was a tough take-charge street reporter with less training than instinct and more chutzpah than good sense; the kind of guy that would volunteer to be the storm chaser for a weather channel, standing out there in the midst of 120 mile per hour winds, the rain beating sideways, barking out on-the-spot, live reports. One of the senior staff argued that we ought to hire an Affenpinscher, a breed well know for its' natural curiosity, well defined sense of superiority and self reliance, all of which a young fellow would need in the rough and tumble world of animal journalism. We suspect that it had something to do with the fact that Duncan(pictured), that's the senior staffer's name, is part Affen and probably looks to benefit from the prospect of a young cub to mold after his own image.

The first inquiry was to Pet Finder a matching service web site with agents across the country and a nice virtual locator for acquirable rescue animal talent. The trick is matching the right candidate for the right position. All their profiles are exceptional for one characteristic or another but for specific job function. Often the candidate will be out of state or worse, on the other side of the country. We made a few inquiries and soon located several candidates all of whom had agents, or sponsors as they like to be called. A sponsor will field your initial inquiry on-line and provide a potential candidate's resume while at the same time checking the pedigree of the applicant. All this takes time and can be expensive in terms of transportation.

The next call went more to the source. We decided to recruit our new go-getter directly from school, academia after all is the fount of inspiration and where could we be more likely to find a candidate than by going directly to Breeder University; get an education in selection and hiring at the same time. We might even find the perfect prospect for our network spot right at the Breeder. A few clicks later we found Nancy Holmes.

Nancy is arguably the foremost expert on Affenpinschers in the country and a tireless proponent of "good fit" hiring. Her paper titled "How To Choose the Right Dog" is a wealth of information on selecting the proper animal for your family. She quickly extracted from our conversation that we were looking to rescue an unproven career rather than bet on a sure thing with custom credentials, after all this is a young network and budgets are tight as it is. Nancy directed us to Affen Rescue an organization that she had started some years ago and still assists, and we began again.

Rescues are many and as diverse as the animal clients they represent. We talked with Sarah at Affenpinscher Rescue who seemed to know every rescued Affen in the country, these folks care a great deal about their rescues. She began the process of trying to match a guy to our particular circumstances: low man on the totem pole around the office, equally low pay, a long term contract and the dirtiest beat in Florida, the Gulf Coast - all that sand.

Twenty four hours later we had two likely prospects a guy in Texas; great heart, young, with plenty of spirit and a fellow out of Georgia who seemed the perfect location but he was older and more experienced. It was suggested that we continue our search for some one closer and so we began again. Very quickly we came upon Max from Marathon in the Florida Keys. Ivan was knocking at our back door.


continued next Sunday, Headline Ivan, Keys ordered to evacuate





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