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The Search Goes On?
Almost before the dust settles, the team is there. That team has the power at the end of the leash. Search and rescue dogs are the heroes that have no equal. There sense of smell is far more powerful than man's. This canine has the ability to penetrate into spaces that humans can not. They have the ability to search and find victims alive or dead.
Yet, it is all a game to these talented animals. Finding a victim brings a reward---just a hug, a praise, or a treat is all the reward that is required. No these magnificent dogs never tire or demand more. The breed is not a critical agenda---but the attitude of the dog plays an important role.
We think of the Newfoundland's as avalanche rescue dogs. Labrador Retrievers as "the best cadaver" dogs. Still many breeds work well as search and rescue dogs, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and the Golden Retrievers. Yet, any medium or large size dog or mix breed can serve just as well. Just like people they all have their own distinct qualities and personalities.
The police have used the celebrated Bloodhound for his powers of search in the US to track criminals for decades. The Bloodhounds nose is accepted as evidence in courts throughout the country. Bloodhounds are the best trailing dogs. Their long ears and loose facial skin form folds that scoop and traps scent around their noses.
The following is a story and legend that I will pass on to you:
Mary and Golden were a unique team. She had rescued Golden from a puppy-mill. He was abused and very undernourished. Mary soon joined a group of volunteers and learned the In's and outs of training search and rescue dogs.
Golden took this very serious and soon showed that he had a special ability. He would not give up once he sensed a victim---dead or alive. Most trainers use a marker or a cue to let the dog know it would be getting a reward after it had found its victim. It could be as simple as a noise clicker or a whistle and then of course that favorite treat.
Golden was different, he made some of his on rules. You might say he trained Mary on how he would expect the game to be played. His favorite toy was a stick, not any stick would work, it had to be approximately two-feet long and if it was to small then he would simply bite into and leave it there. In order to not have a yard full of sticks, Mary tied a red plastic stripes to the end of several of his accepted sticks. It was like a small flag and he would immediately bring them back and attempt to stick it in the ground beside her. It wasn't long until Mary decided that a small American flag would work as his marker and he accepted this eagerly. Everyone knew where Mary lived because the yard was full of small American Flags. I guess you could say Golden was very patriotic in his own way.
Mary worked with a small group of handlers in her area and enjoyed their company on the many calls that they raced off to where they were needed in some disaster. She took a lot of teasing about Golden's rules with the American flag and favorite treat---Beef-Jerky. She always had a small bag of beef-jerky in her pocket, so she would just say that it was her favorite new fragrance.
It didn't take long before the other handlers all agreed that Mary and Golden were having the most success on finding their victims that anyone else. The found their share but it was Golden that would come along after they had sometimes past an area and quickly mark a victim recovery. In a way it might be said it was his only fault, because he would not want to leave a disaster area. Many times Mary would have to command him to leave and follow her.
The team had been alerted many times to some of the remote areas where earthquakes were frequent. Many of these places were in poor constructed areas and the buildings would collapse burying and trapping all beneath. The search and rescue teams were the first ones allowed in and the time was critical for finding anyone alive. After so many days and sometimes hours the team would be instructed to move on to the next near by village or town and the army would be stationed by the last site to guard against looters.
When a devastating earthquake struck Peru off the shore of Pisco, many small towns and villages were buried. The team hurried to assemble and be on their way. Mary and Golden missed their plane because they were tied up in traffic. The team leader assured everyone that Mary and Golden would probably catch the next flight out and join them for she had never missed a search yet.
Mary and Golden did not join their team. It was several days later when they got word that the plane had crashed and there were no survivors. Now, one of their own had become a victim.
The reports started coming in from the local people and the army that was guarding the devastated sites that had been declared no hope for survivors. It seemed that late at night there were sightings of a Woman and a Golden dog were still searching the ruins.
When one soldier ventured to where several people swore that they had seen this woman and golden dog, he found a small American Flag on a stick standing firmly between some tile from the building that had collapsed---then he heard it? It was faint at first and he started frantically digging, others joined him. A small three year old girl was rescued from beneath the rubble.
It has been said that if one keeps faith they may see a Woman and a Golden dog when tragedy strikes.
♥ Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy---F. Scott Fitzgerald