Sometimes it is good to know that even totally unprepared, a well trained SAR K9 will work things out and perform 100%.
Well, things did not start too well this morning and Stryder, my working SAR dog regurgitated his breakfast and the gobs of water only Labrador retriever can guzzle down. OK, major clean-up time so I managed to lock up the 5 other dogs in the living room and got Stryder downstairs to the basement and the fenced in back yard.
Once the clean-up done, I decided to pick up the back yard, as it was Monday, meaning also trash day. So here I was, busy with the pooper-scoopers and Stryder was just hanging lose. Now I needed to get out of the yard and get my heavy laden plastic bag to the end of the driveway. Stryder wanted to come along. I then remembered that I had planted a training aid for him, the previous day, not too far from where we were about to go. Well, I knew Stryder was not ready to work and didn't even have that in mind, but what the heck, let's see what might happen. I opened the gate, got my bag out, closed the gate and from the corner of my eye, I saw Stryder heading towards some bushes, blessing them in his canine way and suddenly his nostrils flared, his tail started wagging and he followed the scent stuck to the wet leaves to the side of the house and to the location of the training aid. Not only that, he performed a perfect refind, hitting my right hand and showing me the way to the target. I didn't even have his reward toy but I praised him lavishly and we ran to my truck where his toy was stashed behind the back seat, and ended the session in a lot of play and rough-housing.
I was really happy to see my dog working it out like that, totally unprepared. I think that I gave him as little cues as I could, walking uphill with the contents of my poop bucket... Not exactly the picture I normally try to project in training or searches. And no other cues were given, such as the reward toy or search vest etc. And in addition, the training aid was the lightest I have, so the problem was not easy to begin with. He's a good search dog, that Stryder pup of mine!