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Stetson The Rocket Dog

Welcome to Stetson's web site.  Stetson is a sable coated Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) who is a marvelous companion and the fastest learning dog I have ever trained.  After exhausting my imagination and several dog trick books, I ran out of new tricks to teach him until now...  He has learned to launch model rockets by himself with his P.A.L. (Paw Activated Launch).   You will find the entire story posted here, as well as video footage, launch photos and even diagrams for the PAL.  I have had a tremendous amount of fun teaching Stetson to be a Rocket Dog.  I hope you find his story interesting and entertaining.

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About Stetson

Yes, it’s true. My dog, Stetson, is into model rocketry.  I got the idea when I saw how exited he got when I took him to the field to launch rockets with my nephew Blake.  I would start counting down and he would go crazy.  So I thought, why not teach him to launch rockets.  People did not think it was possible, but as you can see here, it really is. 

Ok, you probably think a couple of things already.  First, that I have way too much time on my hands, and second that I need therapy.  Well, it really did not take that much time since he learns pretty fast and as for the therapy….   If you would like to make a donation to the Robert Byrd Mental Therapy Fund let me know.

When I first shared the idea it was met with a lot of skepticism.  Even from my wife who's first response was, "Yeah Right", but we pulled it off, Stetson and I...


Most recent items listed first.

July 22, 2011, Stetson is no longer with us
Stetson was born October 15, 1998 and left this world July 22, 2011, living to the ripe old age of 12 Years and 9 Months. He led a charmed life, achieving notoriety with an extensive bag of tricks, chief among these being his rocket launching antics which landed him in dozens of stories in papers, magazines and even on TV. The TV coverage and a few of his rocket vids are posted at www.youtube.com/robertlbyrd, or browse this web site. But Stetson never let the fame go to his head, and was a sweetheart till the end. We thank God for the time he was in our lives. Stetson was one of God's finest creations and brought an immeasurable amount of joy into our lives.

This tribute video http://tinyurl.com/4xbrjtb starts at the beginning and follows a loose chronology of Stetsons very full life, ending up with the new Sheltie puppy named Samson who Stetson watched over and tutored for the last 7 months of his life. Samson picked up many of Stetsons behaviors, so he lives on in Samson, who has already stepped into Stetson's role of watching over and loving us in that special way which only Shelties can.

Be forewarned, if you knew Stetson, this video will make you cry.

November 9th 2008: Stetson makes the Baytown Sun a third time! 
Tara Sullivan of the Baytown Sun met Stetson at this years Neighborhood Night Out which we usually host at our home. She was intrigued by Stetson and wanted to do another story on him. So on Sunday November 2nd we headed out to Crosby for another shoot. 

November 24th 2002: WB39 Story Aires
The news coverage of Stetson was moved to the 24th.   I captured it and posted the full story here here on the videos page.

November 2nd 2002: WB39 does a film shoot
Stetson has hit the big time. WB39 shot the footage today for a news story scheduled to run November 21st at 9pm on the local TV station, channel 39. 

November 1st 2002: Stetson gets a Publicist
Kate Allen of Harrison & Shriftman in New York volunteers to be Stetson's publicist.  Look out Letterman, Stetsons on his way... 

November 1st 2002: Stetson makes the Baytown Sun a second time
Allyson Gonzalez wrote another story about Stetson, and announced the WB39 shoot.

August 2002: Stetson Goes to NARAM 44
NARAM is the annual weeklong event put on by the National Association of Rocketry.  Stetson,  my wife Susan, and I drove to McGregor Texas for this event.

August 2002: Second Baptist  Carnival
Stetson was invited to do a demonstration launch at the Annual Second Baptist Carnival in Baytown.  It was raining so I did not take launch photos.  There were close to 200 people in and out of the carnival.   Surely someone took some photos.  If you have any please send me an e-mail.  The rain however did not dampen Stetsons spirits, he launched as enthusiastically as ever.  We did lose 3 rockets in the trees, 2 of which were recovered a couple of days later with the help of Mark Hall, the host.

July 2002: Stetsons first comic Strip
Stetson was featured in the Wonder Moose comic strip for the Cap Squadron July Newsletter.  Thanks to Mark Sinicki for sending the comic strip artwork.  (Hint, right click the link and save as for best results.)

July 2002: Stetson Launches for Boy Scout Troop 404
Stetson does exhibition launch for Boy Scout Troop 404   during their Rocketry Program.  Here is a link to the Troop 404 web site.

June 2002: Stetson Makes the Front Page of the Baytown Sun
The Baytown Sun (Stetson's home town newspaper) features him in a front page article on Friday, June 31st 2002.
  Austin Kinghorn interviewed Stetson and wrote a great article.

March 2002: Stetson Featured in March/April Issue of Sport Rocketry Magazine
Stetson was featured in a 5 page article in the March/April issue of Sport Rocketry Magazine.  You can download the entire article here. Be aware it is a 7 meg file with all of the graphics included. Here is a smaller 34.5k text only version.  Stetson is getting a lot of fan mail since the article, but it has not gone to his head.  He is still the same old sweetheart of a pup.

August 2001: Stetson On the Internet
I originally posted Stetson's story on a news group, and that is what started all the interest. You can follow the threads at rec.models.rockets

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Sponsor Credits

Corporate Sponsor: Truewater is the IT Outsourcing firm where Stetson is employed as the Executive Office Dog and Ambassador of Hospitality. If you think our dog is smart, you would really be impressed with our computer technicians.

Field Sponsor: Scott Murff of Murff Turf Farms allows Stetson the use of his very large and beautiful grass fields.

Graphics Sponsor:  Paul Smoke of Design Ventures helps out with great looking graphics for Stetsons rockets. 

Publicist: Kate Allen of Harrison & Shriftman of New York.  Yes, Stetson really has a publicist, and she does it "Pro-Bone-O" 

Absolutely nothing on this web site is copyrighted and you can use it however you like. 
Just be sure to link to Stetson's Site and give him credit.
However, if you don't, then be advised that Stetson has lots of large furry friends with big sharp pointy teeth.   You have been forewarned!

Stetson loves fan mail, send us a e-mail  and tell us what you think. He doesn't always reply though; he prefers to bark over typing.
Last updated: November 13, 2008.