Volume 4, Issue 1
14 January 1999
and Susan Corban
"That Others May Live..."
Happy New Year.
|Top of the Hill
||by Larry Mervine
Taking an active role in Search & Rescue means we have less free time each month. A member who accepts an officer's position commits even more free time. So I would like to thank last year's officers for taking the extra time to help Cibola to become a better team.
The newly elected officers for 1999 met December 22, 1998 at Dion's Pizza. We reviewed officer's responsibilities, talked about reorganizing the phone tree, possible changes to team standards, and set goals for the coming year. Here are the goals we can achieve this year:
- To increase the number of Ham operators by five members. Ham classes start January 20th 1999.
- To increase team membership by 50%. This is an aggressive goal that we think can be accomplished. In October and November we saw 24 new faces as a result of the PR committees recruitment drive.
- To invite more teams to our trainings and to encourage more joint trainings.
See you out there.
Some holiday traditions I can do without: eating big meals and rich desserts,
belting out off-key Christmas carols, and drinking to excess while watching a
lighted globe drop from a tower back east are a few Things Best Left To
Others. But I'm willing to make a few New
Year's resolutions: to provide interesting, varied, and fun trainings; to
schedule them conveniently; and to keep you posted with timely information
about them. I've already started making up a web site for training
information, and it can be reached at http://www.cibolasar.org/tsched.shtml.
I also stuck a "Mindit" button on the page so you can register to receive
email every time it changes, if you care to. Time-critical training
information will be left on the team hotline, and we'll do -411 callouts to
make sure everyone gets it. Tops of trees are asked to call their branches
for every -411 page, but members should try to get in the habit of calling the
voicemail every week or so, or at a minimum the Monday prior to a training
event. For our part, we'll try to keep the voicemail updated so
that this weekly task will not be wasted effort on your part.
|Boots and Blisters
||by Tom Russo
For the benefit of those who have not yet been dragged into the 20th century
and aren't ready to be dragged into the 21st, I'll reproduce the contents of
the training web page piecemeal in this space every month --- I'll only include
information about the current month's events, but I'll try to be detailed
about it. The page itself will have all upcoming events and descriptions of
them as such information becomes available.
Here's what I've planned for the first few months of the year:
Just as we established this past year, members are expected to arrive at the training within
15 minutes of the start time in order to receive credit for having attended.
Only the weekend trainings will count as "trainings" for the purpose of
determining active-membership status, but the pre-meeting presentations and
trainings hosted by other teams may appear in the training schedule and all
are encouraged to participate.
- There will be pre-meeting presentations as often as we can come up with
topics and speakers. For January's meeting I'll give a brief presentation on
map coordinate systems and GPS usage. On months where there is no
presentation I will try to have the litter and gear available so we can
practice our technique.
- January's training will be an updated version of the land nav training
that Mike and I gave a few months ago. It will be a 2-hour classroom
presentation on maps, compasses and their use together, followed by some
exercises in map reading and compass use in the parking lot. After that we'll
go over to a trailhead on the east side of the Sandias, practice resection,
and then navigate through a course we'll lay out for you. Expect the course
to take a few
hours to run, and come prepared with snacks, water and appropriate clothing.
The training will take place on Sunday, 17 January, and the location will be
at the Tijeras Ranger Station on S. Hwy. 14 (State road 337) at 9am.
- Beginning on 20 Jan we will have a ham exam prep class every Wednesday
night at 18:30-20:30. There will be a mock exam opportunity on 3 March, and
there will be a real test session at Eubank Elementary school on the following
Tuesday, 9 March. However the classroom at St. Chad's is unavailable on
Wednesday, 17 February, so we'll need to reschedule that class; we'll discuss
this among class participants on the first night. Besides,
it's also the night of
the New Mexico Mountain Club meeting at which they will have sign-up for their
annual climbing school, and some of you might want to attend that; I
- I will hold evaluator trainings for one topic a month in the first three
months of the year, and we will have evaluation sessions immediately
following. Some of you might have heard me say that I was considering holding
sessions instead, but the problems which surfaced in the last attempt at this
has convinced me
that such a thing would be courting disaster, and would not be in the best
interests of our members. Instead I will continue holding
one evaluation per month, and allow evaluators to schedule other sessions as
they see fit and as need arises. The January evaluator training/evaluation
session will be on Litter Handling, and will be on Saturday, 9 January at
0900. In general, the month's evaluation will occur on the weekend prior to
the month's training. If a training is on Sunday then the month's evaluation
session will be on the previous Saturday, and vice versa.
- We'll have a winter bivy/winter skills training in February. It will
be on Friday-Saturday, 12-13 Feb, which is the weekend of the Mt. Taylor
Quad; this year I
don't want our winter skills training to keep folks from attending the Quad.
Watch this space for more info.
- March's training will probably be on tracking, or more properly, track
awareness. J.D. Martin of NMSARST has tentatively agreed to do it, and the
date would be Sunday, 14 March.
- April's trainings has not yet been selected, but will be
on 10 April. I've been thinking of a mock search, 4WD training,
low angle litter handling, or an orienteering race for this
month, and am open to suggestions. I will have the topic selected and
instructor scheduled at least a month in advance. My current thinking is that
we'll have a tracking training in March, and a mock search in April.
- There will be at least one nighttime training this year, probably in
search techniques and/or navigation, and at least one nighttime mock
search/operational readiness drill (i.e., full test of the callout system
in the mock search preparation).
- NMESC's ESCAPE will be held in Soccorro from 21 May-23 May, and this will
substitute for Cibola's training that month.
- The officers are committed to increasing the level of ICS training
integrated with our regular team trainings. To this end, I'll be trying to
use ICS staff at the bigger trainings; while January's training is too soon
to get that set up, I'd like to have an Ops, Plans and Logistics person on
deck for February's winter skills training. Naturally, the mock search will
involve a full ICS setup at base camp, and I'll be inviting NM Sar Support to
that. Larry Golden has volunteered his time to help organize Cibola's base
camp support folk for more intensive ICS training than we have engaged in to
date, and Don "Wheezer" Gibson has offered to help this effort. Any team
members who are ICS section chiefs are encouraged to get in touch with Larry
and help me use your talents in trainings as much as possible.
- I have not yet planned out any of the trainings after ESCAPE; I will be
soliciting input regarding topics and instructors throughout the course of
the year. The training dates will be fixed well in advance, and I will
promise you that they will be scheduled at least in time for me to report at
a meeting what next month's training will be and who will be
teaching it. I'll also try to alternate trainings between Saturdays and
- If you believe you are qualified to teach a subject that needs to be
taught to the team, please contact me. Before I tap you to instruct in a
given month, I'll need you to get me a rough syllabus and class description,
but I'd like to try to get as many other members of the team involved in the
training process as I can. I am certainly not expert enough to do all this
teaching myself, and will be filling most of the training slots with other
While I'm encouraging people to participate, I'd really, really like to see
more people showing up to the various trainings that we hold this year. For
my part, I'll try not to get into a rut where every training is just like the
last one you attended, but it's hard to be inspired in planning trainings when
only 3 people show up. Let's see as close to 100% participation as we can
I've begun to get in touch with other team's training officers in the
hopes that they might welcome us to their trainings, and to invite them to
ours. If this pans out, I will list other team's training opportunities in
our calendar and on the training website. While I encourage you to obtain the
broadest range of training you can and will work towards facilitating that,
only Cibola weekend trainings will count for the purposes of
mission-participation status; I remind you that Cibola requires that you
attend two trainings every six months in order to take field assignments at
missions under our auspices.
I look forward to a good year with you all, and hope I fill this position well
enough for you to be happy with having been stuck with me.
Oh, one other thing. Susan Corban's been setting up these hikes of the
month. Let's thank her by going on a few of them.
Drive to the far east of Spain NE until you reach the Open Space
parking lot at the end of the dirt road. As is true anywhere in the
foothills, this area is heavily used by mountain bikers, hikers,
dog-walkers, runners, and some horses.
Take the trail that runs east from the parking lot to the National
Forest Boundary fence line. From the fence, travel east again until
the junction with trail 503. Follow 503 east to its easternmost
segment. At the bottom of the arroyo is an east-bound trail blocked
with cholla debris, indicating probited access. Follow 503 a short
distance to the top of the next rise to the north. Trail 503 meets a
fence along private property. A few buildings are visible in the next
arrroyo from the ridge top. Follow the trail that goes east along the
fence line and up in elevation. Climb as high as the large rock point
in view above you, or into the forest just above for great views of
the surrounding area. Mountain lions, deer and fewer earthlings have
been sighted from this point.
This trail reaches a wide, flat area at 7040' in elevation. We'll stop
there to practice map and compass and GPS skills. I will bring
photocopies of this portion of the Sandia Crest Quadrangle 7.5 minute
series for members to use. I want to match the UTMs on my map with the
reading on my GPS, practice resection, etc. This is NOT a test! You
can compare with your neighbor.
|Hike of the Month||Bear Canyon Hike and Map & Compass Practice||0800, Jan 31, 1999|
|Trailhead: East End of Spain NE|
|R.T. Distance: 4 miles||Elevation Min/Max: 6200/7200|
|Hiking Time 2.5 hours||Hazards: |
|Topo Maps: Sandia Crest Quadrangle|
Although you were pretty much stuck with me as Treasurer for the coming year, I hope to do the job as well as Melissa did for the past three years. I'm grateful that she hung in there that long, and she has earned a break. Not before she brings me up to speed, though! This will take a little time, but there is already one initiative I am certain of. The collection of fuel receipts and dispersement of payments was a big part of this job, and the source of a fair amount of frustration. I intend to change that.
||by Mike Dugger
In order to relieve some of the burden on yours truly, I will not accept fuel vouchers that are not filled out completely and correctly. Come on, it is not rocket science. I expect present members to know this stuff. The Membership Officer and I will make sure that the correct procedure is communicated to new members during their orientation. Here's the basic process:
It is important that the gas vouchers be filled out this way because I have to take all the individual vouchers and combine them into a single bill I submit to the state. I must have a receipt for all the gas I request payment for. When we get paid, I then write a team check to individuals for their gas expenses.
- Note how much fuel you have, or your mileage, at the start of a mission. My personal method is to jot down the odometer reading along with my other mission information when I get into my truck to go to the mission.
- When the mission is over, note how much fuel you ACTUALLY USED on the mission. Perhaps you started with a full tank, and then refilled immediately after the mission. My personal method is to jot down my mileage when I get back to home or work from the mission. I know the gas mileage of my truck, and can calculate how much fuel I used for a given mission from the miles driven.
- On the form supplied by Cibola, write your name, mission date, mission number, and how many gallons and cost of the fuel you used. If you have a leaky vehicle, indicate how much and the cost of any oil you used as well. Indicate whether you want to be reimbursed personally for the fuel charges, or you want this to go into the team coffers. My personal recommendation is to take the cash - you spent it, after all, and probably much more to participate. Don't forget to SIGN THE FORM.
- Write the mission number and date on your receipt, and attach it to the form. No reimbursement will be made without a receipt. Also indicate on the receipt how much of the fuel was used on the indicated mission. If you wait to fill up until the next time you need gas like I do, this amount may be less than the full amount of the receipt. If you went to multiple missions on one tank of gas, I need a separate form for each mission, but you may give me one receipt with the gallons and cost of fuel broken out for each mission written on the receipt.
If the vouchers are not filled out as described above, I will give it back to you. You may fill out your own tax identification information with the state and submit your gas vouchers directly to the state if you wish, or take the 0.12 per mile as an itemized deduction for community service on your annual tax return. Cibola's handling of payment of gas by the state of New Mexico is a service to our members, intended to make it easier for you to get paid for your fuel expenses. Please help me to help you by filling out the forms correctly.
One final note. This may be obvious, but I want to make sure it is clear. The state fuel reimbursement budget is intended to pay you for getting from home or work to the mission, and back. If you respond to a mission from vacation in California, don't try to voucher gas to get you back to New Mexico! Vouchers that are out of line with others responding to a given mission will invite a request from your Treasurer to justify the expense. A nasty business that is best avoided.
Regarding new members:
|Who's Who and New
||by Susan Corban
Congratulations to Gene Mortimer, our newest active member. Gene, we're glad to have you with us. As new membership officer, I'd like to ask any new members to please contact me when ready for orientation. Anyone who's not ready for their orientation, but has questions is also welcome to contact me. I think I've figured it all out and I'm ready to roll.
For continuing members:
Mentors will be in demand soon. If you're willing to share your experience and knowledge with up-and-coming Cibola members, please let me know. Also, remember to update your address, phone number, email, or anything else that might have changed in your life that we keep on record.
I have collected all of the existing 800 MHz radios that Cibola is responsible for except three, and I hope to have those rounded up before the January business meeting. Thanks to everyone who got me their radio promptly - that made this process a lot less painful. I also hope to have unloaded all of these to the NM Emergency Services Council before the January meeting. I have no information on when these radios might be coming back to us, but a guaranteed route to mission communication is to become an amateur radio operator and purchase a radio. An obvious plug for our upcoming HAM class, sure. Saving for a radio might take some time, but in addition to being one of the largest single purchases for our "hobby," it is also one of the most important.
||by Mike Dugger
After reviewing the mission attendance data for the past six months, some changes in assignment of team-owned GPS will probably be made. I expect these reassignments to be made within the next couple of weeks. As always, the goal is to put this equipment in the hands of people who are the most active in missions, and don't yet own one.
We'll have a feature article on "The Suicidal Subject" next month, and with
luck we'll have a speaker on the same subject for the pre-meeting
||by Tom Russo
David Dixon will be taking on the duties of PR Chairman for the new year. Please lend your support to David as he pursues the team recruitment goal in 1999. Larry M. is urging us to shoot for a fifty percent increase in team membership. There are numerous programs scheduled throughout the year where members will need to pitch in to sit at information tables, make presentations to volunteer organizations, solicit newspaper coverage, etc. If you can help with just one of these, it will make a difference!
||by Susan Corban
Thanks to everyone who has helped get recruitment activities up and running. I've had fun working with all of you on PR activities.
Most of this month's web development is invisible, as it involves the
maintenance of the scripts that control database entry. One thing that
did get fixed was the guestbook script which broke when I migrated to
the MySQL server last month. Thank you to all the members who called in the
bugs and were patient while I fixed them.
The team website can be accessed at http://www.cibolasar.org/
The ESCAPE committee met this past Sunday to solidify the tracks and classes
for this year's Escape. We have six tracks (as opposed to last year's 11 tracks)
and more practical field work in some of these classes. A "mostly solid" list
is as follows: Search techniques, Map and compass, Land navigation with field exercise,
"Climbing skills for ground pounders," Scene preservation (taught by someone from
OMI), "How to pick a SAR puppy," First aid for dogs, "Airscent Basics," "Problem
solving/weather problems for Airscent," "Air OPs in SAR," "Practical Air
Ops" (actual load 'em up - dogs and humans), ATV/Maintenance, ATV field with
useage of High lifts combined, FC update, "Critters in SAR," "Mission: start to
finish," Fatigue, Stress Management, "Critical Incident Stress Debriefing," APRS field exercise, Low and High
Angle hands on, Celestial navigation (i.e. if nothing else works, where am I?),
Desert survival, and "Safety in the Vertical Environment." We have combined the
"Family Night" with the "Wild and Wooly night": we will be having a Star Party
with a noted amateur astronomer and the chance to view the beautiful celestial
sights over at the observatory and through volunteer astronomer's
telescopes. So when I say "Wild and Wooly" I mean you will need wool and not
cotton! The wetbar became too much of a safety/security issue to
pursue. The pool, which will be open for use during the day, was too
expensive to have open at night, but I think you will enjoy the Saturday
night presentation by a meteorologist that will tie into the Star Party. If
you care to imbibe, you have the nightlife of Socorro establishments and your
own room in which to enjoy that. There will be registration info in the next
issue of the NMESC newsletter. I hope to see all of you there at ESCAPE! '99.
||by Nancy O'Neill
Historically, dogs have been used in Europe for SAR work since the 1800s.
Monks at Mount St. Bernard Hospice (in the Alps) were known to use dogs to
search for travelers lost in snowstorms. The classic notion of the St.
Bernard dog, wearing a small cask of Brandy under his chin, came from this
historical beginning. Dogs have also been used in wars to search for
wounded soldiers, as well as to search for the enemy. Today, dogs are used
extensively in Europe for SAR work, and in America they are being used more
and more. In New Mexico, there are five dog teams, Cibola SAR's canine
unit being one of them.
|Using Dogs in Search and Rescue: An Introduction for the Ground Pounder
||by Mary Berry
For most ground pounders, the idea of using a dog to help search is a cool
idea, but how a dog can do this job is a complete mystery to them. And the
question always comes to mind, are they really any help? The answer is
yes. However, sometimes it is more obvious than others.
To understand how a dog can "sniff out" the subject lost in the woods, a
person must have some understanding of the characteristics of scent (human
scent in this case). It is generally accepted that human scent is a
combination of dead skin cells, gases, and oils that are produced by our
bodies. This scent is then mixed with things we put on our bodies like
perfumes, lotions, and soaps. As a result, each and every one of us has
our own individual scent which begins with our DNA, and is added to by how
we live, what we eat, drink and smoke, which laundry detergents we use, and
whether our emotional state is calm and relaxed or panic-stricken. This
scent mixture emanates from our bodies constantly (just like Pig Pen in the
Charlie Brown comic strip). Once scent has fallen from our bodies, it is
at the mercy of air currents, temperature and humidity. After leaving the
body, some scent will fall to the ground and stick to nearby vegetation.
Air currents will pick up the rest and deposit it on trees or other
vegetation, or fences or buildings, or whatever else is around. If the
wind is strong, there may actually be more scent deposited farther away
than the spot where the subject is actually standing. Temperature and
humidity affect scent in different ways. High temperatures and dryness
will cause the scent to desiccate quickly. High humidity and cool or
moderate temperatures will help scent to stay around longer. A light
drizzling rain can help rehydrate scent and stick it to the ground, but a
hard rain will dilute it and wash it all away. In our climate, we are most
often dealing with low humidity and scent just drying up!
Now, let's consider the dog's nose. It is well known that dogs have a
keen sense of smell. But what does that really mean anyway? One way to
put it into perspective is to compare the dog's sense of smell to the human
sense of sight. We recognize many shapes, colors, and textures and have
developed a vast vocabulary to describe them. Not only do we see the front
of our house, we also see the shape of the roof and the color of the
stucco. We see the walkway to the front door; curtains dangling in the
windows, a small doorbell by the door, the large picture window, and even
whether the window is dirty or clean. Dogs categorize scent in a similarly
detailed way. They can recognize a particular odor in a human scent
mixture that enables them to find a certain family member at the summer
family reunion. There have even been studies that claimed a dog could use
his sense of smell to tell identical twins apart! Some dogs have a better
sense of smell than others do. This is due mostly to differences in nose
length. The longer the nose, the more nerve cells the dog has that are
responsible for smelling (olfactory neurons). So in general, a German
Shepherd dog will have a keener sense of smell than an English Bulldog.
However, many dogs have an equal sense of smell. It is through training
that the SAR dog becomes more proficient at what comes naturally to him.
There are two basic methods that are taught to dogs for SAR work.
Understanding the similarities and the differences between the two types
enables the dogs to be used more effectively on a SAR mission. Whether a
dog is taught one method or the other is dependent upon what the handler is
interested in teaching him, and which method the dog is more naturally
suited for. Whichever method is taught, a dog should not be used on a
mission if he (and his handler) has not taken a mission-ready evaluation.
(Ugh, standards again.) Most dogs require a minimum of two years of
training before they are ready to be evaluated. Passing such an evaluation
is the only way to prove that the dog is worthy of being in the field.
The first method of SAR dog training is called Area Airscent. These dogs
are usually worked off leash and the search team is assigned a search area.
The team covers the search area in somewhat of a grid pattern, using the
wind direction to dictate how the actual searching is done. The dog runs
out in front and from side to side of the handler, checking the wind and
vegetation for any evidence of human scent. If scent is found, the dog
begins to follow the scent (somewhat like how we follow the wafting scent
of grilling steaks to our neighbor's backyard). The handler will note a
change in the dog's body language at this time. When the dog successfully
follows the scent and finds the subject, he will perform a trained alert.
The most common alert taught for wilderness Airscent dogs is for the dog to
run back to the handler and bark or jump up at him, and then lead him to
the subject (called a re-call, re-find alert). The alert will vary from
dog to dog, and is limited only by the handler's imagination and
personality of the dog. A smart handler will teach the dog an alert that
comes naturally to the dog. Area Airscent dogs are used most effectively
when they are assigned to areas that do not have other searchers in it,
because they will alert on anyone. (The dog doesn't know for whom he is
searching.) So, the dog may alert on other searchers, hikers, or mountain
bikers in the area. This is OK. In training, the dog has become used to
finding more than one subject in the area, and will continue to search even
after finding one person. These dogs are well suited for use in areas of
heavy vegetation and downfall, and work well at night. Because the dogs
run around "casting" for the scent, they will cover a lot more ground than
a person can, and will provide a higher POD of the area than a groundpound
team with an equal number of searchers. Breeds of dogs that are best
suited for this method of training are the working breeds, such as
Retrievers, German Shepherd dogs, and herding dogs such as Border Collies
and Cattle Dogs. Many mixed breed dogs work well too. They need to be very
energetic and eager to learn things for a reward such as food or a game of
Tug-of-War, for example. Because they work off leash, this method also
requires that the dog be well obedience trained.
The second method of SAR dog training is called Tracking/Trailing. These
dogs are usually worked in a harness and on a long leash and are assigned
to begin searching at the Place Last Seen (PLS). A scent article from the
subject is given to the dog to smell, and when given the search command,
the dog follows the general trail of scent that the subject made as he left
the PLS. These dogs check the vegetation and air currents to detect the
scent of the subject, and follow where it leads. The handler follows along
behind, and goes where the dog takes him (the dog is in charge basically).
Eventually, the dog catches up with the subject. Most Tracking/Trailing
dogs used for wilderness SAR exclusively are not trained to do a particular
find alert because the handler is right there with the dog when he makes
the find (remember, the dog is on leash the whole time). These dogs are
most effectively used to establish the direction of travel the subject made
from the PLS, and can be used while there are other searchers in the area
because the dog knows who he is looking for and should ignore everyone else
(this is called scent discrimination). These dogs must have a starting
place where the scent of the subject is known to be (a PLS), and there also
must be a scent article available. Getting the scent article can sometimes
be a nuisance and delay getting into the field. Usually, the Mission
Initiator or Field Coordinator will collect the scent article from family
members, but occasionally the dog handler will be asked to do it. Freshly
worn clothing or other articles that are handled only by the subject (e.g.
purse, hairbrush, or toy) make the best scent articles. However, a
footprint can also be used. In addition, scent articles can be made by
wiping the subject's car steering wheel or seat with a sterile gauze pad,
for example. The likelihood of finding pertinent clues is increased in the
area where the Tracking/Trailing dog goes. Breeds of dogs that are best
suited for this method of training are primarily hounds used for hunting.
The Bloodhound has a long history of being used for hunting people.
However, many other breeds are very successful at Tracking/Trailing,
including the working breeds mentioned above. In general, the best
Tracking/Trailing dog is independent by nature, and is not particularly
concerned about pleasing anyone but himself. This is actually an advantage
because the dog needs to be single-minded in his determination that "the
scent is THIS WAY you stupid human!" Fortunately, these dogs do not need
to be as highly obedience trained as Area Airscent dogs since they are on
leash for their search work.
This summary of how wilderness SAR dogs are trained and used covers only
the most common methods. There are many permutations of these methods, so
you may see a few things done differently if you are given a field support
assignment. Of course, we have not discussed less common uses of SAR dogs,
such as Cadaver search, Disaster search, and Avalanche search. These are
equally interesting ways to use a dog for SAR, and some dogs are
cross-trained to one of these specialties after they have become proficient
at one of the wilderness methods. Those of us who train dogs for SAR do it
because we think dog training is fun, and discovering how a dog uses his
nose to "sniff it out" is fascinating. We must love it because no other
resource in SAR trains four hours a week, month after month, year after
As you have probably surmised by now, there is a multitude of things that
can make using a dog as a resource on a mission successful, or not. The
weather, and how it has affected scent, is a major factor. Add in the
"dark of the night", difficult topography, an inaccurate PLS, and the
subject wandering around in circles for hours, and you have a complex
problem for the dog and handler to figure out. Dog handlers can get pretty
frustrated. Having good field support is essential at this point. Here
are a few suggestions for field support ground pounders:
- Keep your eyes on the ground, looking for clues such as footprints, candy wrappers, etc. There is a natural tendency to want to watch the dog. Be assured that the handler is already doing that. Your first duty is to be clue aware.
- Be a good navigator. The dog handler may lose his sense of direction because the dog is circling around due to scent conditions. This is especially a problem at night.
- Be prepared to be the communications person. If the dog is working fast, it is difficult for the handler to talk on the radio and watch their dog at the same time.
- Stay behind the dog. Having a person immediately in front of a dog may distract him. If you find yourself in front, just stand still and wait for the dog to pass you.
- Don't get frustrated! This can be difficult when the dog seems to be circling around a lot, zigzagging, and apparently getting nowhere. Understand that the dog is problem solving, and that working the scent can be tricky.
- Don't pet or praise the dog except by permission of the handler. The dog is searching for a subject who he thinks will be the only one to praise and reward him. Praise from bystanders can be confusing.
- Idle chitchat with the dog handler may be welcomed or discouraged. At times, the handler may need to concentrate on their dog to such an extent that it is difficult to carry on much of a conversation at the same time.
- If working with a Tracking/Trailing dog, you may be asked to retain the scent article for future use. This article will most likely be in a plastic bag. After the dog has taken scent, pick up the bag without touching the article inside, close it, and stick it in your backpack.
- Lighten your load. Working with a dog team can sometimes be at a quick pace. Be prepared to "move out," especially at the beginning of the search.
- If in doubt about what to do, or not do, ask the dog handler. Everyone's
style is slightly different.
Hopefully, this introduction has helped the reader gain insight into the
thought processes of the dog unit when on a search. It is all about
solving a huge scent puzzle, something which the handler knows a lot about,
but cannot smell, see, or touch. The handler depends on the dog to be true
to his job (search!), and the dog depends on the handler to have faith in
him ("I SAID, the scent is THIS WAY!") As an observer of this dynamic, a
field support ground pounder can have an experience different than the
usual hasty trail search or line search. It can be interesting and fun,
and hopefully result in a find!
The information in this newsletter was gathered from many sources and presents facts as we believe them to be true. This newsletter is not meant to be an official document, but a means to disseminate team information.