I just realized I have not blogged in quite awhile. In september I attended my first, of what will be many, HRD seminars. I went to AMPWDA and loved every minute of it. It was the perfect seminar for a novice. I got amazing advice and support even after the seminar was over. They even had class room instruction in the evening to just train handlers in SAR. It was by far one of the most positive and encouraging groups of people. I left with great training plans, support and new friends. I can’t wait for next falls’s!
I have connected with a lot of SAR folks on Facebook and I am glad I have. Recently one of those people recommended this book to me How to Train A Police Bloodhound and Scent Discriminating Patrol Dog and it is beyond helpful with training and is intended for any breed of dog. I am only a few chapters in and wish I had known about this book sooner. Some of the tips I will definitely use with Ruger and some others I will keep in my tool belt, as I do not think they will improve on what Ruger and I already have going. It is very inspiring when veterans of SAR are so willing to help us newbies be successful. Hopefully one day I can do the same for someone else.
When I got Ruger I had plans for him before I even picked him out, before he was even born. The thing about life is we can plan all we want, then life happens. I had dreams of Ruger being a Therapy Dog, like Gracie, and to show him in Conformation, perhaps even breed him one day to have my next show dog. Expectations and reality do not always match up, I once saw a diagram about dog training and it was a squiggly line about getting from A to B, well sometimes we never make it to B and have to switch plan C or even D. When one door closes another opens, well this week one door will be closing for me for good. Ruger is getting snipped, he will never be able to have puppies, so although I said goodbye to Therapy Dog work for him a long time ago, and knew Conformation was not for him, for some reason I am feeling sad. The realization that none of my plans for him will come to fruition is hitting me hard this week. A quote by Tony Gaskins sticks out and that is “if you can’t do anything about it then let it go. Don’t be a prisoner to things you can’t change.” I wish it was that simple! I have to keep reminding myself why Ruger would not better the breed, for one he has allergies, two he was never shown and does not have CH in front of his name. I could go on. I have to remind myself of all the positives instead. We did find plan D for Ruger and that oddly enough is something I never thought would be possible with a Great Dane and that is SAR work. We still have a long way to go and have so much to learn, however we are heading in the right direction. Life is funny, expectations are not always met, but the opportunities it opens you up for, if you are open to it, can surpass even my wildest dreams. If those other doors had not closed I would not have met some amazing people and had the opportunity to become a better handler than I was a year ago. I would not have a dog, which has certified twice now in tracking and has added an article search certification in there as well.
I had the privilege of attending my second NAPWDA seminar at the end of April. I have a LOT of information to share, however two things I had never really thought about until it was brought up, at the seminar, was what the function of certain dog behaviors are. The two were Barking and whining. Whining…. Do you know what it is? I learned over that weekend that it is your dog’s plea for assistance. Once you hear it put like that, it makes total sense! In addition, that a Bark’s function is distance. It could be stay away or come closer, but nonetheless it is distance. I have had dog’s my whole life, taken numerous courses as well as help teach at our local kennel club and I can tell you I am constantly learning something new. I suppose the moment you think you know it all you might as well quit, …… I know I will NEVER know it all.
A good friend recently gifted me a book about SAR, which I wish I would have had months ago. As I am reading through this evening one quote has been sticking out “……..The first time search dog handler may believe they are ‘mission ready’ after a few months….” This quote sticks out to me, because the more I learn the more I am NOT ready, if that makes sense. Someone’s life is on the line. I have so much to learn and there is a lot of things I do not know, I do know. How could anyone after just a few months be prepared? Be qualified? I still have a few courses and certifications to complete and even then, I know there is so much to more to it than just that. Tonight I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with how far I still need to go. That being said, it will all be worth it, if I am able to help just one person, even if that is a year or two out.
Here is the book if you are interested( Don’t let the title fool you, it is full of great information for the first time SAR person) : Building a Search and Rescue Team From The Ground Up
So an idea was presented to me over this week that I could over train my dog…. I had never really thought about that, so I reached out to one of the Master Trainers at NAPWDA about tracking too many days in a row and he did not believe you could over train your dog. Before I heard back from him, I of course googled it and since nothing popped up on the first page of google I am assuming there is not much research on the topic out there. I also reached out to a past tracking instructor and he, as well confirmed you cannot over train. My position is you need to train to real conditions. What happens if we got a call on a day we already trained? If we do not practice to that, then what? I also try to put myself in the person that told me that’s shoes, I wrote back them that I bet they are right if you are training hours on end in the same day. I think sometimes I do not come off well to others, because unless you send me research or evidence for things you present to me as facts, I will always do my own research. Hopefully, this person did not take it the wrong way. In the end it is all doing what is best for our team, not about who is right or who is wrong. It is about best practices in dog training. It is about our calling to be of service to others.