I have to be honest, this week’s blog post did not come easy. I fell victim to writer’s block and no focus. It was a very busy week. Then the Chief Editor asks me this evening, “So how is that blog post coming along for tomorrow?” All I can do is act shocked that she does not think that I have one completed by now. But, we both know that she is correct and I start to write. I do have an idea for a couple of new posts for the future. But they are exactly that, for the future. They are not ready. So what’s a boy to do? Then it hit me. Let’s talk helpers, victims and fun.
There is something that all Search and Rescue K-9 handlers have that we sometimes overlook, unintentionally of course. This is all the people involved in helping us get our K-9 up and operational. After all it’s search and rescue; we need to have people to find. People willing enough to go out make a trail, hide or do whatever thing the handler has set as a goal for that session of training. Officially this person is called a helper. But the helpers, if not working with the team, are more times than not friends and family. They are a very important part of our training, because without a “victim” to find, our dogs can’t train.
So what do we need and look for? When looking for a helper first and foremost we need people with time. After that people that are willing to listen, hear, and complete what is instructed. I separate listen and hear for one major reason. Many people will listen to the instructions that are given, but do they actually hear them? When the dog is rewarded incorrectly they were not totally paying attention. It is imperative that the helpers follow instruction. Rewarding the K-9 for the incorrect action could set the training back, if the dog is young and learning.
To all the helpers out there that hide for hours every year in all kinds of weather, you are the best. Search and Rescue K-9 handlers would not be able to work without you.