Well this blog is certainly off topic, compared to my usual, that is.
I do a fair amount of volunteer work with my dogs, as another blogger recently pointed out, it is more of a calling to do these things with my dogs. However, I have not necessarily volunteered for dogs, until now. A friend I met at our local Kennel Club told me about a Great Dane Rescue needing volunteers in my area and they immediately thought of me. A short interview, home study, background and application later here I am set up by them to do home evaluations and foster if the need should arise.
I did my first home visit for the dog rescue about two weeks ago and loved it. I was able to meet with the potential adopter, ask them the questions for the rescue, assess their home, but more importantly discuss one of the breeds I love. It was very inspiring to be able to be a part of a wonderful group, which ensures the dogs are going to right the homes, and make sure the potential owners are set up for success. The potential owners should leave the meeting with a better understanding of what they are getting into and have their questions/ concerns addressed. I was able to bring Gracie along, so the person would get a feel for what having a Great Dane in the home would be like. If you ever find yourself longing to volunteer with dogs, take a look at the local rescue groups in your area. For this particular group there is no time commitment, you let them know what works for you, no pressure, it is a great way to give back. It was astounding to me how many Great Danes need to be rehomed and are surrendered. You hear stories of individuals, forced to move and are unable to take them, too simply they did not realize how big they were going to get. Regardless of the reason, this rescue group does their best to set them up with a wonderful forever home, and are very positive judgement free folks.
To all of you that donate your time, may God bless you for making your communities a better place, one volunteer hour at a time.
( Pictured above is Gracie in red, all ready for one of her TDI visits, the one on the left is her getting bundled up to head out in the South Dakota snow, you can also see Ruger back there too).
So what are the areas of search and rescue? If you are new to SAR or have never heard of it, you may not be familiar with the different types of SAR dogs there are. There are 5 basic types:
Tracking Dogs – follow a specific subject’s footsteps. They are oriented to the mixture of human scent and ground disturbance where the person walked.
Trailing Dogs – are oriented to the scent cones, which have fallen to the ground along the specific subject’s route. This canine may work some distance from the actual trail due to wind conditions, age of trail and other factors.
Air Scent Dogs – are able to work very large areas off lead, and their handler’s grid in order to utilize the air conditions. These dogs are oriented to airborne human scent and work into the wind. Air Scent dogs usually have recall/refined in, which the dog finds the subject, they return to the handler, indicate or tell them they found someone and lead the handler back to the subject.
HRD (Human Remains Detection) -These dogs are trained to find the odor of human remains, and have some indication such as a sit, down or bark to let their handlers know they have found source.
Article search- when send your canine out to see if there may be an item with human odor on it. This can be useful, for example, if a suspect was seen holding a gun in one area and then when apprehended it was not on them.
So how do you pick what to go into? Typically you “try” your dog out to see what they have affiliation for. For me our team did not give me the option, the first area we tried out in is what they had us stay in, which was tracking. Ruger loved it and nailed his first track. Also, being a giant breed they were concerned about him being off lead to do area, as Danes are prone to bloat, also if you are lost and that is the dog that finds you.. it could be intimated. I do wonder what we would have happened had Ruger not been interested in tracking/ trailing. Would he have been an HRD dog? Our Future goals are to certify in trailing and article search. We recently started training for article search and so far he is doing well. So how to you keep your dog motived to search? Check out my next blog to learn more about preference testing and how we started on article search.