Monday, January 12, 2009

K9 SAR training with Eagle Valley Search Dogs

January 10th counts as a winter day in my book. With a predicted winter storm coming from the west, I expected some wind at least at ground level. Nada, zip, nothing. Yes the winter storm came from the west and it snowed, enough to make driving next to impossible in the late afternoon/evening but at ground level, not even a flake was drifting, showing no significant air movement at ground level! Makes things kind of hard for the dogs to work as the scent cones do not develop much.

I gave my Kahtoola Microspikes a workout in the am and they worked like a charm. I did not slip once for lack of traction. Some teammates complained that they can ide up, so next time I'll use some show sheen on them and see if that helps. The snow we were on was on top of a layer of ice and snowshoes maybe would have prevented breaking through that ice, as it happened

In the pm, I used my snow shoes, but this time, the snow was not that deep, no ice under it and too many logs to block my way. I would have been better off with the Kahtoola Microspikes. Go figure!

My Oregon 400i GPS also caused some havoc as suddenly I could not see my topo map on the screen. For whatever reason, when I switched it perhaps back to the K9 SAR profile, it worked fine thereafter. There is also a possibility that I inadvertently switched the scale of the map, difficult to say, as the cold can cause butterfigeritis. Anyhow, I was happy to be able to solve the problem on the fly.

As for Stryder, he did ok. The hide Kyle had chosen was a bear, well almost a bear's den. The subject got inside that natural ledge so deep he could not be seen from outside. I got there by sheer luck as my search plan got shredded from the beginning, as the area I was given and the area I had on my GPS were not matching at all! So after I took Kyle's GPS and started working it and trusting it (that took me about 10 good minutes as I had to clear the mental picture I had built in my head and replace it with what that GPS was telling me). I got to the corner of my area and decided to do a pass in the middle of my area, mostly following contour lines. That's where I got close to the cache. I then saw the footprints. Stryder did not alert yet, he even poked his nose in the cache but did not indicate yet. He worked the scent, got on top of the rocks where scent was probably escaping up. Stryder now had his natural alert, came back towards me got under the ledge and did his refind, bumping my right hand.

Had I not seen the tracks, I am not sure Stryder would have gotten his subject, as we passed close to him a little higher and he did not show any scent acquisition, yet the scent was going up from the mini-cave at least at first. Would he have gotten scent farther below, where un-energized scent tends to go? How far would the scent have gone? These questions will remain unanswered.