They train every three weeks. They needed volunteers who could sit quietly in the woods for five hours.
I did not chat with many of the folks. They were all business.
But I do have pictures of dogs.
|Lots of smiling dog faces. These are dogs that are happiest when they are working. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.|
Some basic obedience training took place at the start of the event. That got everybody into a working mindset.
|Can you tell this dog adores her master?|
|Clementine is a rock-star. She is a bloodhound.|
The volunteer "victims" were placed in the woods. We were spaced about 400 yards apart. For the novice dogs we were placed in easy-to-find places. For the more experienced dogs we were shuffled up and placed into more difficult places, that is, farther from the trail.
The first team with an experienced dog told me that I was too visible and they directed me to move one hundred yards farther to the west. Okie-dokie.
Exactly one hundred yards to the west was a tiny pot-hole swale. EXACTLY the kind of place a deer would bed down in. Good enough for a deer to avoid detection by predators, good enough for me. And it WAS exactly 100 yards west of where I had been.
I think they also had issues with the fact that I wear no fragrances and my outer clothing has not been laundered for more than a month. Not that I am a slob, it is just that I have many coats and jackets and there is little mud or filth in the winter.
Another thing I did was to remain still and to shield my face. A fairly large number of the people they need to find are folks with dementia or emotional issues. In the moment they might not want to be found or might be petrified by dogs. Sometimes the victim is not conscious.
Dogs are predators and they see motion more than shapes, and shapes (body language) more than detail. Think like a bunny, hunch over like a stump, hide your face and don't move and you will be harder to find.
|This would be Akron. Akron is a novice dog. He loves cheese.|
|I forgot this little darling's name. He was also a newbie. His treats tasted like chicken. OK, they smelled like chicken.|
|This is the bottom of the pot-hole I tucked into after I was directed to move.|
|According to my compass, the previous picture is looking north-east which is nominally downwind of the prevailing winds.|
is the first experienced team that found me...before I was moved. When
the dog finds you he/she has to bring the handler right to your
position. You can see the tips of my boots in this shot. |
|This is Zephyr. She has some very stylish kicks(footware)|
A surprising number of dogs are rescue dogs. Zephyr was a rescue dog that was purchased in front of (outside of) a dog store in Miami, Florida.
|Front of card|
|Many of the teams (invariably named after the dog) have their own business cards. This is Zephyr's card.|
I expect I will do this again. Like my daddy told me...there will always be a place for people with strong backs, closed mouths and a high tolerance for boredom. I continue to marvel that it took me 57 years to find my niche; a job where I can sit out in the woods, read a book and smell bad.
Many more pictures at Michigan SAR's Facebook page.
Overall, it was a lovely way to spend a warm February Sunday.