The only thing I could add is for dog owners themselves. My SAR group has found the ProSelect Solar Shade Crate Canopies can provide as much as 20 degrees temperature difference inside a car. They’re sold in sizes that will cover everything from a single crate to an entire pickup truck.
They’re not cheap but they work as advertised (and this is NOT a paid endorsement). They’re surprisingly durable given their mesh construction, and they compress down to go right back in the storage bag that comes with them. I highly recommend them.
If you do find yourself lost, with weather moving in, what are the things you should think about? The best description I’ve ever heard described them as “Shelter, Water, Food.” As in:
I’ve used different fonts deliberately. Those are your three priorities, and the size of the font represents their importance to your safety.
Find or make shelter. You’ll freeze to death long before you’ll die of dehydration or hunger. A simple tarp rigged over a rope between two trees is adequate. Just something to get the sun, rain or wind off of you.
Find Water. Or take a swig of the water you brought. You’ll die of dehydration long before you’ll starve to death. If you’re truly lost, don’t worry about drinking stream water. It takes a couple weeks for stomach illnesses to appear, and they’re treatable. Dying of dehydration is irreversible.
Find Food. Your lowest priority. Honestly- who among us couldn’t stand to miss a meal or two? We stress eat, and getting lost is stressful, so there will be great temptation to snack on those emergency rations in your pack. But save that potential energy for when you’ll need it. Lay up, rest in your shelter, get hydrated and if possible get some sleep.
In the cool of the next morning you might hear a road, or a helicopter making passes, or another clue to guide you in a direction. If you decide to go for it, as opposed to staying put, that’s the time to get some food on board so you’ll have energy for the trek.
Up next, we debunk some advice from Elmer Fudd. You do NOT want to be “vewwy vewwy qwiet.”
Just over a week ago, K9 Ruger (with me along for the trip) certified as a Wilderness Air Scent Dog with our county’s search and rescue team. He did an awesome job, finding two subjects in 40 acres of very heavy brush in about half the allotted time.
We can now respond to missions anywhere in Washington State. But having met the basic minimums to be a qualified SAR dog doesn’t mean Ruger’s days as a trainee are over. In some ways, he merely now has a “License to Learn.”
Both dogs and humans learn much more at actual searches than at even the best training sessions. Just like humans, dogs file experiences in their memory banks and call on them when future situations dictate. Going on actual searches will give Ruger a wider range of experiences to draw on.
You should also know that Ruger won’t be deployed on every mission just because he’s “certified.” There will be some searches where he stays in the truck, and I go as support for a handler with a more experienced dog. It’ll all depend on the nature of the search, the terrain and other factors. For all the stuff we take on searches, it’s important for handlers to leave their egos at home and play second fiddle when appropriate.
But in the meantime, a big Wahoo! for Ruger who earned his cert on a really difficult test.