Gun Dog!

Ruger comes from a long line of gun dogs, so we’re making a gun dog out of him.

Huh? There are really two meanings to the term “gun dog.”

In the hunting world, a gun dog is a hunting dog that responds when the hunter drops a bird. The term implies that the dog is used to working around guns and won’t be skittish at the sound of firing.

In the search and rescue world, a gun dog is a dog that finds guns, or expended shell casings, at the request of police. It’s not well known that SAR teams work a lot of crime scenes. We don’t chase criminals, but we are frequently called to look for evidence and occasionally for bodies.

Ruger is already nationally certified to find both live and deceased people. We’re adding what’s called “Gun Shot Residue” to his resume. Over the past few months Ruger has been finding progressively fewer shell casings tossed into grass. The eventual expectation is that he’ll be able to find a single shell casing in a 100’x100′ area, along with guns themselves.

One curve ball is that we’re not allowed to have firearms at SAR trainings. That’s kinda like training a cadaver dog when you can’t have a human body in your freezer. So we work around this challenge by bringing gun parts that are dirty, but not bringing an entire functioning weapon.

Not sure yet when we’re going to take our test, but we’ll keep you posted.

Walkin’ On, Walkin’ On Bro-Ken Glasss

It’s a frightening scenario for a dog walker. You’re admiring the birds or the trees or the sunset and you realize you’ve walked your dog into a scattering of broken glass.

What do you do? If the dog is small enough, you can pick it up. But if that’s not possible then the next best answer is to just keep walking. The absolute worst answer is to start yanking on your dog’s leash in an effort to rush them out of the area.

You might have noticed that dogs are different from people. They have four legs which means that if they’re just walking, three of those legs are on the ground. If they put the fourth foot down on something sharp, or hot, they can pick it back up. You or I, with only two feet, would fall over. The dogs do just fine.

When the dogs don’t do just fine is when the handler starts yanking on the lead, disrupting their balance and forcing them to put a foot down where they don’t want to.

If you see you’re in a pile of glass just slow down and if possible continue walking in the same direction. Avoid forcing the dog to turn which might spin them on a sharp edge. Once you’re safely out of the area check the dog’s feet for shards of glass that might have worked up between their toes. That could produce a cut later as the shard moves around.

In the US, SAR dogs that work rubble “go naked.” Not only do they not wear booties but we remove collars and vests. We want the dog to be able to feel heat or sharpness with their feet, and we don’t want a collar or vest that might snag.

My dogs have all worked rubble, including Magnum who worked the SR 530 Mudslide near Oso, WA. None has ever suffered a cut pad, even though they almost always end up on broken glass.

As I said before, there’s never a perfect answer. But you can reduce the odds of a cut pad by simply taking a breath and continuing to walk, slowly, in a straight line.

Stay Found!

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