Our meeting today back in the Frontier Building was winding down and a woman came in looking for volunteers for an outdoor adventure. It turned out it was Cindi of the Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs (ASARD). She needed a body for the training of a dog. My colleagues volunteered me. We went to a nearby park area and she gave me a map of where she wanted me to go. [I noticed when I got home that I didn't quite follow the route in one part. Sorry Cindi.]
The route included parking lot, grass, woods, alongside a wet area, more parking lot, and a sidewalk. It was somewhere between a quarter and half mile. When I got to the destination, she picked me up in her car, gave me a gauze pad to open and wipe on my hands and neck and stick in a plastic baggie. Then back to where the meeting was and I biked home.
Then I had to return to the scene of the crime about 90 minutes later. This time by car and I sat and read until I got a call to wait by the fence. That's when I saw the berries and a bunch of other plants I hadn't noticed before. I thought about different people who had been sought by blood hounds - lost children, elderly folks who wandered off, runaway slaves, criminals and thought about how each might feel in my spot. I leaned against the fence waiting to be discovered. And then I saw the faint moon.
And then I heard the yelping. A big floppy dog rushed to me and a happy handler followed, delighted her dog had sniffed me down.
In the video (it's real short) Cindi explains what the exercise was about.
Want to train your dog to sniff down lost kids and hikers? Here's what the ASARD website says in answer to the question "What are ASARD's expectations of me and my dog?"
"We expect the following from all new dog team members:
• Attend at least one or two training sessions per week.
• Train in all types of weather.
• Attend outside classes (obedience, agility, first aid & specialty classes).
• Work with other handlers on practice search problems.
• Volunteer to be a subject for ASARD training and tests. [I guess that was me.]
• Have a positive and constructive attitude.
• Develop/demonstrate adequate physical fitness.
• Be willing to train up to 2 years to achieve mission-ready status.
• Be willing to train independently.
• Purchase necessary personal equipment.
• Work with your dog every day outside of unit training.
• Maintain a written daily training log."