Let me share with you the embarrassing little secret that search dog handlers don’t want you to know: sometimes WE get lost too.

Sierra and Magnum have both led me back to my truck after searches. Magnum on a real search, in risky terrain.

The good news is we have our dogs with us, and they love riding in our trucks.  The jingling sound of the truck keys means they’re going to play in the woods.

As a trainee handler, Sierra had led me to my pretend “lost” subject, no problem. But I’d been so intent on following her that I had no idea where we were. To compound things, the tree cover was so heavy my GPS wasn’t picking up a signal.

So I turned to Sierra. “Let’s go back to the truck,” and off she went. Pretty soon I was recognizing fallen trees and small meadows that we’d crossed on the way in. I eventually broke free of the brush, to see her waiting patiently at the back of the truck.

Later, Magnum would do the same thing in riskier terrain.

There was a large swamp between us and the truck. It was the middle of the night, pitch black, and we’d come in through brush so thick I needed both hands to push through. There was no holding map, compass or GPS in my hands while I moved. Wearing a 40 pound pack, I didn’t want to step off into deep water. Magnum led me around the swamp, exactly the way we’d come in.

So that’s the dirty laundry no dog handler wants you to know. What’s the one thing we WANT you to know? Oddly enough, that’s dirty laundry also.

In an upcoming post, we’ll chat about your laundry hamper.

Stay found, my friends.