New Mexico Trip – Sandia Search Dogs on the Lake

The three of us got up bright and early to train with another search and rescue group: Sandia Search Dogs

What a beautiful morning sunrise on the way to training.

New Mexico sunrise espanola

All three of us were pretty wrecked from the day before.  We spend most of the day packing for the trip, then hopped on a plane in the afternoon.  Not one of us got to sleep until well past midnight.

grom at albuquerque airport

My wonderful In-laws made us plenty of coffee and breakfast burritos for the trip up to the lake. Nothing wakes me up in the morning better than New Mexico Chile. YUM!

The lake in question is that of Lake Abiquiu. (pronounced Ab-ee-que)

A gorgeous little lake in the middle of the desert mountains. The deep blue water matches the color of the desert sky. Perfect for fishing, water skiing, and dog training.

lake abiquiu

We arrive early and enjoy the view.  Very few people were on the lake despite the amazing weather and holiday weekend.  Only a few minutes pass before the search team shows up to great us.

Diego the search dog is ready to go.  Just look at that smile.

I went down to the boat to learn about what this team uses for water training.  They had some pretty nifty equipment to put the scent source in.  Check out the rope going through this minnow trap.  Cool!  The team found that black equipment was much harder to see in the water.  A good thing to have in order to prevent the dogs from cheating by alerting when they saw the equipment.

The team set up one volunteer on the shore to work a pulley system that raises and dunks the float and attached scent cage.

While we waited for the team to set up everything in the water,  Diego did some shoreline work.

Here he is looking for a boot with a scent source tucked inside.  Can you tell where it is? What!  You don’t have smell-o-vision?

You will just have to see where Diego finds it.

search dog searches bush in abiquiu

Diego normally works off lead, but had a chance to practice with it on at the lake.

Sniff Sniff Sniff

Diego search dog barks

Woof! Woof!  Woof!

It’s in that bush right there!

Diego makes quick work in finding the smell.  What a good dog.

I get ready to hop into the boat with Diego to see him work from a boat.  Aaron and Grom decided to check out the boot in the bush while I was gone.  Grom the search dog is not trained in finding scent sources like that one.  So, Aaron just let him sniff around and gave him treats whenever he got close to it.  It’s all play and treats for that little fuzzball.

Lucky dog.

Diego is ready with his life preserver on, just like the rest of us.  It was not long before he was at the bow of the boat sniffing away for a scent.

diego port on the water

I think I might be picking something up on this side of the boat.  Sniff sniff sniff.

We gridded back and forth in the boat attempting to bring it across the scent.  Diego diligently sniffed on one side of the boat, then the other.

diego search dog lick nose

The gorgeous search dog started to become excited, licking his nose and wagging his tail, telling us we were on the right track.  Then, he started barking.

It’s right around here!

Told ya so!

Boing!  The float raised above the surface confirming the location of the scent source.  Diego was rewarded with a nice game of tug.  We headed back to the dock with the sound of a big dog happily squishing a ball in his jaws.

Aaron went out on the boat with the next group while I visited with the members of the search team over a bag of dill flavored sunflower seeds. I had so many questions and happily talked everyone’s poor ears off.  We watched as the lake began to fill with hundreds of people and boats. The silence of the morning shifted into a very busy and noisy boat loading area.  Much of the state had been on fire due to dry lightning storms and drought.  Abiquiu was one of the few natural areas open for the holiday weekend and more than a few folks had the same idea. Yikes!

abiquiu rain

Training was cut short by the impending doom of a dangerous desert thunderstorm.  A metal boat on the water did not seem like the right place to be with the lightning flashing across the sky. So, we decided it was a good time to pack up and grab some of that good New Mexican grub.

Chile rellenos, here I come.

4 Responses to “New Mexico Trip – Sandia Search Dogs on the Lake”

  1. Don Diego Dog Says:

    Diego gives this a paws up!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    This was such a wonderful opportunity to see a search dog in action! And what a lovely place to train.

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