Grom’s First Search
Grom’s Mom has been in bed all week with a bad case of food poisoning while Dad is both taking care of Mom and trying to catch up with work. The past two weeks have been filled with visiting family members and people having fun in the nation’s capital. For Grom this means meeting new people and lots of time in the house while everyone else gets to go have fun in the city. So no searching for Grom for those two weeks, he’s got lots of energy built up.
Of course, that’s when the phone rings to tells us there is a search spooling up. Grom is needed for his first search! Mom however, is in no condition to walk with us, and has to stay in bed playing video games on her cell phone.
Grom passed his grueling Operational Search Test only a few weeks ago. Did it prepare him for the real thing?
There were three other K9 teams from VSRDA and one from Dogs East at the search, each with a team walker and a law officer to escort. It’s going to be a hot day so we’re all anxious to get started before the sun gets too high in the sky.
We’re relieved to get started by 09:00 and everything begins just fine with Grom happily dashing back and forth across the search area at near to full speed. He is very excited to finally be out searching again.
Grom has found something right at the beginning of the search! Only it is black and furry just like him. It just happens to be team mate K9 Sirius searching his sector! They slowly face one another with their noses down for a few seconds, everyone is holding their breath hoping playtime does not break out and ruin the search. But not to worry, both dogs are all business and simply go back to searching after being reminded with a “Get back to work.”
Like a little search machine, Grom quickly finds something else only a few minutes later! Hidden in an area of tall grass is something he has never seen before. Grom follows the scent over to investigate. This new thing leaps up and clumsily bounds away.
“Hey wait! I just wanted to say hi!”
Grom is very excited to meet Bambi for the first time! I am also very excited as I run after them both yelling like a maniac, trying to call Grom off a fawn for the first time.
“Wait!, Stop! No! OFF OFF OFF!”
Right at the place the first fawn leaped from is another fawn, curled up in a tight ball hoping desperately,
“You can’t see me. You can’t see me.”
Unfortunately this doesn’t work and as we move closer, the second fawn decides that’s close enough and darts off into K9 Sirius’ sector. A quick radio call to the other searchers in the area is made to give them a warning and as we move away from the baby deer , Grom comes back with a big grin on his face.
“That was fun!” Grom seems to say.
“I sure hope this does not ruin the dog for the rest of the search.” I say, “Grom had never found a deer before.”
The dog gets a second to cool off and then restarts with his magic search word, hopefully with a little more focus now. Grom takes off again, back on task with the deer forgotten; his head is back in the search.
Grom loves to work and he’s bounding happily through thick brush leaving his slow human followers to push and cut their way through the thick brambles. Soon the bushes give way to lighter coverage and near the creek, the dog is getting excited. His nose, tail, and ears are up in the air; he’s prancing on his toes. He smells something and this time it is human.
The dog is alerting wildly and the whole search party starts to watch him carefully. As Grom trots back and forth he’s trying to catch the edge of the scent, but it’s big and he’s getting frustrated. This is where everyone starts to spread out and inspect the surrounding around. We all remind ourselves what to do next, “Watch the dog, and put on your “Clue Awareness” hat.
What doesn’t belong in this scene? The trees aren’t lost.
That’s when we see something that just doesn’t belong. It’s in an area the dog cannot reach but it’s directly down wind spreading scent over the whole area he’s been alerting in. Our search party gets together and decides to send one of our walking companions over to check it out. As his human balances across a log to get a better look Grom is getting pushy and tries to get out on the log too. “sorry buddy, you need to stay here.” I say as I call him back and hook him up.
That’s when our walker turns and gives us a nod.
Team Grom has made the find of a missing person on their very FIRST search together!
Good human partner!