Follow the Leader


Fall 2016

A Good Dog Led John Swaney in a New Direction

Retired engineer John Swaney adopted his dog Ginger to be a companion for his then elderly shepard mix Lexi. Ginger, however, had other ideas; the young German shepherd was rambunctious, uncooperative, and loved to run. Though she was a handful, her intelligent eyes told Swaney that her energy could be – deserved to be – harnessed. So he got her a job. 

Lost and Found

After enrolling in search-and-rescue training classes involving blood-borne pathogens and crime-scene forensics, Swaney and Ginger began volunteering with the Ohio Search Dog Association, which specializes in helping law enforcement find missing persons. It’s this work that led Swaney to buy his 2010 Forester. 

Subaru Forester owner John Swaney and his dog, Ginger, provide a demonstration
Subaru Forester owner John Swaney and his dog, Ginger, provide a demonstration. 


We needed a reliable car since we get calls at all hours of the day and night to do important search-and-rescue work.


Swaney has since adopted a second German shepherd, Hogan, who has followed in Ginger’s footsteps as a search-and-rescue dog, and Swaney has recently become certified as a positive-reinforcement obedience trainer.

Good Shepherds

Earlier this year, after six years on the job, Ginger finally retired, but she’s not slowing down. She needs the stimulation of training classes, so Ginger, Hogan, and Swaney head to their weekly training exercises in Swaney’s Forester. “I could never have predicted that this is what my life would be like,” he says. “Ginger, my silly furry friend, has opened so many new doors to me.” 

Discover how one rescue dog went on to return the favor in Saved by Grace