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!!!
*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.
Abby slept all the way home, and most the next day as well, she deserved it she had a busy week at work!