My Baby Steps in K9 Search & Rescue
We want to be a SAR Team!
Or so we thought! A small group of people with different experiences and backgrounds; and no clue what to do!
We had the mighty Leader, John. He had brought this glorious German Shepherd! And please forgive that I lost faith in AKC and all that other crap! When a registered and priced German (as in GERMAN, thus my former homeland and THEIR breeding standards!), having won a few shows over there, can't get AKC papers because it doesn't look German Shepherd enough (Every time Americans try to Americanize something German, they screw it up! Look at the dishwater called beer or coffee, the soapy tasting chocolate and every missbred GERMAN dog breed that wouldn't pass standards in the country it came from! Hmmmmh.... Do I sound a little passionate right now? Sorry, I'm German. We have a lot of pride in our 'gifts'!)
We had the Lady that showed Samoyeds and other dogs and brought one of them and the skiddish Rotty girl to training. She told me some stories about how some breeders have their totally healthy and loving show dogs euthanized or worse, because they don't 'muster up'! That and a ton of other stories that make me want to grrrrrrrrrr (German Passion again!)
We had the guy with the Pitty, who was working in a hospital as a therapy dog (TAKE THAT, BSL SUPPORTER! OK, German Passion again!). This dog could have been a Yorkie, it was so sweet! And he was a killer search dog, from what my lowly self could tell!
I had brought Duke, the 140lbs now German Shepherd. And little Sierra aka Baby Girl.
That was it! The glorious future SAR Team of Abilene Texas! WTKSR or something like that... West Texas K9 S&R.
Another local kennel selling K9 Services and more had done something similar. They offered trained Search Dogs and more, but had a sh... reputation and had actually been kicked off the premises at Oklahoma; yes, that Oklahoma. I had watched the horror on TV shortly after I arrived in the U.S.. It was one of the reasons I wanted to do SAR.
The first 'Searches'
John would read books. We did too, but he had the most knowledge. He would come up with a training plan and we followed our Leader like the Seven Dwarfs; just no singing! None of us would have been good at that!
We started out with what I call playing 'Hide & Seek'. Handler hides behind trees and dog will be send after. You couldn't fool Duke! Ever! He knew where his Mom was! And he figured everything else out quick! Nose in the air he would practically be-line straight to were the 'victim' was. And we soon intensified his love to 'talk'! I taught him out to talk for treats when I would point at my mouth. So he 'spoke'. When the 'victim' was found he had to sit down and I wouldn't step closer or reward until he 'spoke' loud and clear.... Like he ever had problems being LOUD!
Sierra tracked down the virtual needle in the haystack! And not even adding several 'victims' would distract her. She always knew what she was after and who held the treats! Mind you, she wasn't out of the 'diapers' yet! Sadly her tracking skills got her lost twice within a day and the second time she never came back. That's when she had just turned 6 years old. I am still looking for her today, but the County had a horrible shelter and dog fighting! I just pray that if it happened, it happened quick!
Welcome to Texas!
Probably the funniest story about my K9 SAR efforts was the one with the rattler! Oh my God!
I made a good 'bait', seemingly knowing how to make a dog happy to find me. Especially this lovable little Rotty that was so scared. But her Mom wanted her to be a Rescue Dog!
In case I haven't mentioned it before at least a hundred times to share the pain(s), Abilene is a city that seems to be nothing but red clay, cactus and mesquite! I saw cacti that are higher than some of the trees I saw in Texas. And I saw mesquite bushes with thorns as long as two inches or more. And yes, I sat on one once or twice!
I am laying in the midds of it; careful not to roll into one or the other of the welcoming plants around me. No sight of the motivated search dog and I am a bit too tired and too pregnant to be laying here long without complaining to myself. So I am laying there.... laying there.... laying there..... OH SHIT!
We all had bought kits; just in case. We had heard stories about the wide variety of slitherin creatures in Texas and I wasn't looking forward to meeting one.... PRACTICALLY FACE TO FACE!
My really dumb feeling self had picked a warm spot in the cold winter air; a spot where the sun was providing a bit relief from the cold.... SO DID THE DARN RATTLER!
First I froze! Stiff as a block, unable to move, probably starring at it like Bambi at Brother Bear. Then my body moved without my permission... I doubt any Indian could have been better at moving slow and almost undetectable... BACKWARDS!
It leaped half-heartily! I JUMPED FULL-HEARTILY 3 FEET IN THE AIR AND.... RAN!
Needless to say I became a little wiser with choosing my hiding spot!
STOP LAUGHING JAY!
We were doing so great...
We really tried, despite our lack of skills. Our dogs were doing great with what we had been able to teach them. Duke never missed and I was so proud about him.
We had all taking the Basic First Aid (with Infant) class and they were looking at more training. Some were talking about EMT and some were looking at the real stuff. For me it was the first sign of the downfall and losing my dream... Money!
Yeah, I was still married. What good that did me! I had all those bills and no useful babysitter. The first $400 for a weekend class left me ...feeling left out. It was like my dream was suddenly measured in zeroes on a piece of paper.
Somehow sometimes soon after John got PCS orders. The air was out of it! He left and the spirit left with him. By then the other SAR team had also caused such a bad name to SAR from Abilene that we felt shamed ourselves, despite not even knowing her.
I'm not sure when I stopped going. I never spoke to any of them again. I believe that West Texas K9 SAR seized to exist. If one good thing came out of it, another Pitty became a therapy dog!
I still play 'Hide & Seek' with my dogs sometimes, hoping to find a 'candidate' and a team to join; ...and the money to pay for all those expensive classes. But when I moved to NC and researched some of the teams, OH GOD, they had some rules. With one you had to be a regular 'foot soldier' for a year to even be considered as a dog handler!
I haven't looked up here where I live for a year now. I have enough dogs to know that at least one of them could find his Mom behind any bush! Yes, I know there is more too it!
It's still a dream, but having chosen 'Rescue' I doubt I ever have the hundreds of dollars to pay for classes! But some day, maybe...
For those of you who have been able to follow that dream, I admire you! And, being honest, I am a little jealous! But, maybe, one day...