First Find Anniversary
– Aaron Pennington
It’s been exactly a year since Groms first search- and his first find.
In the year since Grom and I certified, we’ve had a lot of work, and we’ve had a lot of tasks. But most of all, we’ve learned a lot about working together. These are the three biggest lessons that I’ve learned from working Grom for a year as a certified Search dog.
Always know where the wind is coming from and where it’s going.
Grom and I can work all day long, but if I never put him in the correct spot he will never make any kind of progress. He understands what his nose tells him right now, but he doesn’t have any concept of what the weather will be or what it was. There’s important information in both the past and the future, and it’s my job to make sure that he get the benefit of that information even if he doesn’t know it.
There’s a also huge benefit in knowing where to not go, and when to get out of the way. There’s very little as frustrating as getting stuck out in the field in a dangerous thunderstorm or snow storm– especially when you should have seen it coming.
Have fun while you work.
I know the whole point of having a dog from a working line is that they have the need, the desire, and the will to work. But the thing that amazes me more than anything is how much fun Grom has while working. You will never see him quite as happy, or fulfilled as you do when he’s working on a problem, especially a difficult one. Quick run-away type problems bore him after a few repetitions and short linear tasks are only good to whet his appetite.
No, the most fun you’ll ever see him have is on a hard problem where he has to plug his brain in and work out a scent pattern all on his own. He will charge in and out of scent, climb trees, crawl through culverts, and completely ignore his handler when he thinks he has the right answer at the tip of his nose. He loves the tug that comes with success, but to see him devote all of himself to a problem it so see him truly alive and at his best.
Trust your dog
I know when Grom is trying to tell me something. But I don’t always know what he’s trying to tell me.
Sometimes it’s something important like “here’s the person you’re looking for.” or it could be something only important to him like “Check out the dead thing that I found to roll in!” To him there’s no difference, so my job becomes to figure out how much of what he’s telling me is important to the job and how much is just important to him.
So what’s the lesson here?
If it’s important to him, it’s important to me. Because sometimes he knows things are important, but he doesn’t know WHY it’s important. Once you figure out that, it becomes much easier to not second guess what the dog is thinking is important. When that becomes the case, you realize that you just go check out the what ever it is that he’s telling you to go check out.
It could be a clue, or exactly who you were looking for.