Sören has a dual job, one that fits him just as good as his IPO work. This boy is like a finely tuned machine………..all oiled and greased (requiring of course weekly bathes) and ready to the job i decide needs to be done that day. The genetics of this fine young stud (or so he thinks as Raina stares adoringly at him in his crate for an unbeknownst reason to him) allow him to excel in whatever venue i see fit, now THAT folks is the total German Shepherd Dog. When he’s off hes off, and when hes on, holy shit you better watch out because HE IS ON!
Ready to work on command
“The man who rears a dog must complete what the breeder began.”
~Captain Max von Stephanitz
Not only good words about dogs in general but amazing words coming from the father of German Shepherd dogs themselves. I know all my dogs have a little of me in them, if they had been owned or handled by someone else their genetics mixed with that handler would have altered them in development in some way different then with me. This can be good and it can be bad, and i have seen both with my dogs. Spend an hour with my 4 shepherds and you can conclude one major trait that i poses, i’m a workaholic as are they.
So for Sören it’s really no big deal to put on the search vest and “GO SEARCH” when commanded, or put on his agitation harness and work on his bite and protection work, or watch me grab the treat pouch and get ready to do some obedience, or even hit the scent pad and do a little tracking. This boy is ready and waiting, literally for my every command, and he will preform with gusto!
Part of my job with my K9 partners is to search for runaway students from the school i work at teaching dog training, The Family Foundation School. Monday morning comes and I’m minding my business getting my lesson plan for the week together when i see a girl take off running. K9 Abby and I deploy with two flankers and get a direction of travel. She has a good head start on us and as the only K9 team out we make a search plan up as we go. Checking frequent travel routes by runaways we pop out 4 miles later and get back to the school for a break and some food. Next we harness up K9 Raina and redeploy covering another 5 miles of potential land.
Raina with PA and the Delaware river behind her
Tuesday morning brings us back out again, this time covering another 4 miles with some beautiful views of NY and PA, some great quarries, and some hot weather. The girls did fantastic working tirelessly for hours and each got closure wednesday morning when they got to meet there subject after she was returned to the school. Unfortunately she has no idea where she went, but Abby gave us a pretty good picture.
Raina working the quarry
We gave the girls their “paychecks” by giving them a short easy find with a lot of play time!!!
I’m always amazed at the level of dedication in the dogs and the people, especially my students who go out on the searches with me. It was a lot of miles and a lot of gator aid.
Friday morning K9 Raina and K9 Abby deployed with me south of Utica to search for a hunter who went missing on thanksgiving. We were on the road by 5am and in the field as soon as we arrived. We met Kara our flanker from Amigo and got Raina started first, working Abby later in the afternoon to finish up our area and recheck a couple places Raina had scent. The search was called off later that afternoon after he was located deceased. It was a sad ending but at least the family had closure. Raina and Abby worked about 7 miles total and were happy to get home and take a break!
Of course there is no rest for the weary and we were deployed last night at 7pm to Ellenville to search for a missing man. He had been missing for almost 22 hours already and K9 teams were out all day. We took the night shift working from 7pm till 5am this morning. It was a crazy night in rocky mountains and high mountain laurel up and down over the hills chasing scent and clearing areas. After 7 miles with Raina I got abby out to clear the rest of my area. She dragged us up to the same mountain top and worked scent all over till my phone rang. It was our subject, he thought he was on the mountain across the street from his house and he was cold, hungry, and not 100% coherent. After the area was thoroughly checked with no trace we re deployed raina back in our area where the dogs had interest. The subject called back again, he was confused and scared and said people were chasing him, and he could see our flashing lights. I looked at my flanker from Amigo Erik and knew we had to step it up! Raina had a bright blue flashing light on her vest and i knew we had been closing in on someone earlier when he had called. Our suspicions were right he didn’t want to get found, he wanted to make it out on his own!! After a scary run in with a confrontational pack of coyotes we took our sticks and moved on clearing the rest of our area. We emerged from the woods and went home at 5:30am. Halfway home my phone rang again, our subject had walked out on his own an hour after we left down the street from his house! He was safe, the girls did great, and we managed a few hours of sleep before our week began again!!!
Last week Abby had her first search as a certified dog, and I my first search as a certified handler. Tuesday afternoon we were called up to Rochester NY to search for a missing man who never returned home from his walk. Abby and I arrived and were fielded immediately clearing an area till dark. We spent the night in Greece and reported back to staging at 0800 wednesday morning. By this time Rita Argiros and K9’s Ripley and Raven had arrived as had Erik and Brook both flankers from our team and Kara a flanker from Amigo SAR dogs. We were assigned a new area that bordered a swamp and a road the man frequently walked down with his 2 dogs. Sandra from Oswego search and rescue team also joined us and Abby and I were thankful for the extra help!
With just a little far away interest across the swamp Abby and I finished up our areas and headed home that evening. Abby did amazing, she worked hard, listened well, and sufficiently cleared her areas. All our hard work was paying off and I was very happy to see her work. I surprised myself as well, and was very calm and confident during the whole search process. This was not my first search by any means, i’ve been to 20 +, but it was my first time in “the hot seat” as a crew boss and K9 handler. The last 3 years of search and rescue training really prepared me for everything that i experienced, as well as my dog training experience and knowledge. I guess trusting your dog really does pay off!!!
Great job Abby
*Update* 2 fishermen found the body off a well traveled road less then a week later. It was directly across from the swamp area we searched, Abby was right!!!
But Abby’s first week was not over yet!!!
Saturday morning we recieved a call at 0630 of a missing hiker who never came home the night before. Abby and I picked up Kara and headed 3 hours east to Olive NY. We had barely gotten into the door of Incident Command when we were given an area and sent back out. I should have looked at the map a little better!!!!!! The brown elevation lines were blending in together the area was so steep, but Kara, Abby, and I knew this mans life depended on it and we packed our gear and started our area. The forecast was for 7+ inches of snow that afternoon and evening and we knew there was a limited window of time to find this guy. The terrain was a tough as the map predicted and the higher peaks were covered in snow. After about 3 hours of searching snow started falling and accumulating quickly. We had just hit 4 miles and finished our second pass around the ravines we were searching when my cell phone rang………the missing hiker had walked out of the woods 8 miles off the other side of the peak, he was safe, and he was alive! Kara and I were ecstatic, i threw Abby her ball and she got to carry it all the way back to the truck. We waited back at base for Buddy and K9 Max and Karen and K9 Ice to return and then we hit the road with a long snowy ride home.
Our 4 mile track
Abby slept all the way home, and most the next day as well, she deserved it she had a busy week at work!