Bunny mentioned yesterday that we went to help with some Search and Rescue Training with Küster and Mr. Taleteller over the weekend. This weekend’s training was different because they had a man who’s a Master Trainer there to give them three days of instruction with their dogs. It was a great experience for everyone involved, I believe. I volunteered to go on Saturday because it was being held at the old Bartonville State Hospital for the Incurable Insane and because I love being able to see all the dogs work in their various disciplines.
Küster now has almost a year of training under his collar and we are very happy with his progress. He is learning about trailing, which is when there is a person missing and it’s known where they were last seen. However, this weekend, Master Trainer thought it would be interesting to see if he could work on area search. Our big puppy rose to the challenge and figured the game out rather quickly. The training involves Küster looking for a person (who happens to have one of his toys), then running back to get his handler (that would be Mr. Taleteller) and leading him back to his victim, who then gives him the toy and does some playing with him. In short, Küster thought this was the best game ever, so we will still work on training him for trailing, but he’ll also start to learn some area search techniques.
I really love seeing some of the more advanced dogs working, too. It’s fun to see dogs who have really mastered their disciplines work at them. I find it fascinating to see them in action. None of them work in exactly the same way. Each dog has his or her own way of doing the job and of working with the handler. Can you imagine being able to find the scent of human remains from a grave over one hundred years old? The canine nose is a masterpiece of creation.
Another part of the day that I really enjoyed was meeting Nike. She is an eight week old Irish Water Spaniel. Her human is new with the group and is planning to train Nike in some discipline of Search and Rescue. Right now, the plan is to socialize her a lot with new people and to foster her interest in toys and playing. She did some games that I remember us doing with Küster and it made me feel really nostalgic. It also showed me how far our boy has come in the last year.
One important lesson that Mr. Trainer shared with Nike’s human was not to compare her progress with that of other dogs in the group. My husband and Buzz’s human both shared how they’d gotten Buzz and Küster within the same week since their birthdays are four days apart. Each of them has felt discouraged at times when seeing each other’s puppies doing their work, even though they’re training for different things.
I can say that I think they both should be extremely proud of their puppies. It’s been a great help for us that another person close to us had a puppy at the same stage of training as Küster. I think it would have been a lot more discouraging for my husband to only see dogs who were a lot farther ahead in their training all the time. He and Buzz’s human have met a lot during the last year to train the puppies together.
I suppose it’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, but it’s important that we see the assets that we have as well. I know that I need to work on certain aspects of who I am, but it’s good to know that I have strengths, as well. We all have both, but we all lose sight of them at times. The good news is that we can be reminded about what our strengths are from time to time.