Bunny mentioned yesterday that while we were out walking and shopping, Mr. Taleteller and Küster were off at Search and Rescue training. Sometimes I go along with them, but it was going to be a long day of training and there were meetings for the members involved, so I decided to stay home and have an adventure with Bunny. I also was looking forward to sleeping later than 6:30, which is about when my husband was planning to start getting ready to leave.
In the afternoon, as Bunny and I were finishing our walk, I got a phone call from my husband. He’d texted me that Küster had run a good trail, so I knew that he was happy with how the day had gone. I asked him on the phone about it, and I could tell he was about to burst with excitement and pride. I wasn’t there, but he told me all about it, and I kind of felt like I had been there.
When Küster takes his certification test, he’ll have to find somebody from an “aged trail” which means that it will be up to four hours old, as I understand it. So, he has been practicing on some aged trails, as well as some other things, like a trail where someone different crosses the trail and he has to stay on the original one and making sure he doesn’t miss turns. His victim laid the trail three and a half hours before he went out to look for her. They set it up in a way that she can take a hidden shortcut and be at the end of the trail when he gets there, but not have to hide for three and a half hours.
In a surprising twist, the weekend turned out to be some sort of celebratory weekend where a lot of parents were in attendance. The victim had left her trail through the quad, which is generally a large hub of activity. On Saturday, it was full of groups of people chatting and walking through. Küster had picked up the trail strongly from the beginning and headed through the quad on his mission, undeterred by all the people. As he was working, he came to a corner and stopped to get his bearings and figure out which way the person had gone. A girl came by and stopped to pet him before Mr. Taleteller could tell her that he was working. Instead, he yelled “get to work,” the girl jumped in surprise and Küster did what he does without even flinching.
The girl walked off, and Küster kept following his nose. To my husband’s dismay, he was following the girl who had stopped to pet him. He didn’t know which way the victim had gone and he began to worry that Küster had just decided to follow the hand that had petted him.
They came to a point where it became what they call a “scent chimney.” The wind blowing through the buildings makes the smell seem like its coming from everywhere. Küster stopped and began to circle. Suspecting that he’d lost the trail, one of the other handlers suggested to my husband that they go back to the last place he was certain that Küs had been on the trail. Just as he began to call the Black Tornado back to him, Küster took off like a shot. He soon found his victim down in a stairwell and there was a big party in his honor. Playing with his Wubba with his victim is his reward for making it to the end of the trail.
It was a great experience for Küster and for Mr. Taleteller. The Puppy Wonder had to overcome a lot of obstacles and distractions to get to the end of the trail. He had to stay focused on that one unique human scent while thousands of other smells wafted around him. He also had to ignore the attention of adoring fans, which isn’t something he’s ever encountered before to my knowledge. It was good for my husband to see that Küster really does know what he’s supposed to do and can make it through a lot of things.
I have to say that I admire the heck out of his focus, too. I don’t know if I could stay focused on a goal through so many distractions. I do know that I love seeing a dog do what he was born to do. He was born to use his nose and he’s showed us that from a young age, but it’s not just that he follows his nose wherever it leads. He has honed his skill to something akin to an art form. I think that kind of focus is what makes an artist out of all of us, though. I’d like to think that I’ll get as good at honing my skills as he is one day!