Classes included Air Scent K-9 Fieldwork, Trailing Dogs Fieldwork, Introduction to Scent Theory, Scent Dynamics, Forensics/Decomposition, Human Remains Detection/Fieldwork,
Pheromonal Communications, Helicopter Safety for Search and Rescue Canines, ROC and Triangulation Techniques, Field First Aid for K-9s, Human Bone Identification, and Working K-9 Health Issues.
I'm not a K9 handler, myself, but I really enjoyed helping out with this conference for a couple of days -- "getting lost" for the dogs to find -- and at times just observing. I found the advice and tips the instructors gave the handlers fascinating, including suggestions for how to correct certain behaviors (both their own and the dogs'), overcome challenges, and build on the dogs' natural instincts.
Alerts, motivation, and rewards were often the focus during field work sessions, as well as training techniques and reading the dogs' signals. I loved watching the handlers communicate with their canine partners and especially enjoyed seeing the fun the dogs had, because, to them, searching is a game with a prize at the end.
As the "subject" of dozens of searches, I saw -- and felt -- lots of pink tongues and wet noses up close and personal and handled quite a few gooey toys and hotdogs.
|This excited four-legged SAR volunteer has located me, run back to get Mom and lead her to his find.|
|The K9s came in all shapes and sizes. Isn't she a beauty?|
|She may be little, but she's got a great nose and work ethic.|
|Instructors, including Coco SAR's Cindy McArthur, worked one-on-one with dogs and handlers.|