Starting our search and rescue adventure

Discussion in 'Labradors in Service' started by lorilou61, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. lorilou61

    lorilou61 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hello!! Well we haven't been hopelessly lost and in need of rescue. Just crazy busy. Lots of birthdays this time of year, events and visits with family and trying to finish up some projects at home before the holiday season arrives. Just haven't found much time to sit down and check things out on here or update you all on our training.
    As I write this, I am piled up in the bed and Edsel is knocked out cold on the rug beside me. Today we set out from home at 9 am for day of training and didn't get back in until 8:30 pm. Drop dead tired! But the team has a national instructor and evaluator in for several days of training so we are going at it hard. Will be starting tomorrow at noon.
    I was officially voted onto the team earlier this week after my 6 month probation period, so now on to completing a basic search and rescue course so I can become mission ready.
    Edsel continues to progress well. There's no doubt he knows his job, knows what he's looking for and is excited to be rewarded when he's successful. Now to just keep reinforcing what he's learned and increasing the challenges. I think we will be focusing heavily on making sure he knows he must stay with the person and bark his head off til help arrives.
    We worked with a "bark box" today. Basically this is a wooden box just big enough for a person to fit in on their hands and knees, that has a guillotine type door on one side. One of us gets in the box with the dog's reward toy and gets their attention, then the door is closed. The dog is given their command and is to go to the box and bark, bark, bark until the handler comes to him and rewards him. I learned to not move in too soon. Let Edsel really give me 4 or 5 good barks first. Then if at any time while I'm walking to the box he stops barking, I stop until he barks again. This helps him learn he must bark to get me to the subject and for him to be rewarded. We were training in this today right next to a community park area with walking paths and I had to wonder what people thought about all these crazy people in boxes, raising and lowering trap doors and dogs barking wildly.
    Here's Edsel working at the bark box with one of the team members working the door!
     
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  2. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Fascinating to read how you train. And very well done for getting so far!
     
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  3. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Wow! Interesting stuff @lorilou61
    Well done Edsel
     
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  4. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    Amazing! Edsel is such a clever boy. I find it so interesting to read all about some of the fascinating stuff our labs get involved with, from gun dog training to finding dead bodies...guide-dog training to sniffing out cheese in cardboard boxes..:)
     
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  5. Pilatelover

    Pilatelover Registered Users

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    It certainly is, I'm loving this topic well done @lorilou61 and Edsel :celebrate:
     
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  6. Xena Dog Princess

    Xena Dog Princess Registered Users

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    Congratulations on making the team! As always, it's so interesting to read about your training. I can only imagine the reactions of people in the park :eek: Do S&R dogs have to be naturally barky in order to succeed in training? Or is it like anything and you can just train it?
     
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  7. lorilou61

    lorilou61 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Holy smokes, I'm beat! It's been a long weekend of fun and learning. We went to a team member's home today to work. They live on a farm and have lots of areas to work as well as an agility course set up for another of their dogs. They have wanted Edsel to get out on the course to see how he does on different surfaces and obstacles. I didn't really feel he'd have any problems since as a general rule he's often more reckless than he is cautious! He wasn't at all afraid to run through the tunnels but did do better when chasing a ball through. I'm shocked! :rolleyes: It was good to get him up on the narrow dog walk while I kept his lead on and get him to slowly navigate across. He only did one area search today and did great. It was a narrow but densely wooded area. The "victim" did take a few tricks and turns in getting to his hiding spot to make Edsel have to work through different scent trails and areas. He once again worked so quickly we really can't keep up with him but we continue to just work to really reinforce his "victim loyalty" and keep him with the subject and barking, barking, barking til we can make it to him. The guest instructor went on this run and was pleased with his work. Said he has a great drive and natural ability. He said not to try to slow him down but to just keep working on teaching him to stay and alert. Now for me to somehow learn all there is to know and understand about how scent works, the factors that affect it and how to put Edsel in the best places to be successful and not get in his way.
    @Xena Dog Princess ...they don't have to be naturally "barky" but it helps! It's one less thing they have to learn. The shepherds on the team seem to have to really work at learning this where Edsel and the other lab are noisy fools! They are all amazed that Edsel can and will bark just as strong and loud with a ball in his mouth as without! Quite the talented one! :cwl:
    He did also get to reacquaint with his old nemesis...horses. He never did like them when we were Oklahoma and doesn't seem to have grown fonder. But he is noticeably more mature in his ability to ignore and walk on by when told to leave it be and move on.
    Tonight I am on the sofa, under a blanket and trying to ignore my aching bones and complaining muscles. Edsel is napping except for his usual frequent episodes of barking at imaginary homicidal maniacs outside the door! :D
     
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  8. Cath

    Cath Registered Users

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    Wonderful well done to both of you :)
     
  9. lorilou61

    lorilou61 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Well I'm back after another long absence. Seems like life is always hectic and time flies by. November was a trying month here. Unexpected and sudden death of OH uncle caused quite a bit of sadness and stress here. Then mother in law came down ill while still up in Wisconsin. So worries there. Annual influx of hunters for pre-Thanksgiving deer hunt and then finally made off to the Bahamas for a much needed week of R&R over the Thanksgiving holiday. So training time was hard to come by as well. We've been back for a couple weeks with the team now and working on both building and wilderness searches. Edsel has developed a new neuroses related to certain buildings for some unknown reason. He seems to find a new odd behavior from time to time so we are working through that right now. But he continues to demonstrate progress and has successful finds with lots of celebrating. Much of my time now will be dedicated to preparing for the SAR Tech II certification test in March. There's a written test and 6 practical stations covering things such as navigation, man tracking, clue searches, etc. This is the next big step in training and once I am certified I will be considered "mission ready" for actual searches. Edsel will be taking his Canine Good Citizen exam in February as well. Once he has passed that, he can participate in PR events with the team and get experience with being out and about with many people and settings. I am very proud of him and pleased when I see him work. But still find my greatest happiness most days in just watching him be my big goofy boy.
     
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  10. Xena Dog Princess

    Xena Dog Princess Registered Users

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    Thanks for the update, Lori. I was actually just thinking about you and Edsel yesterday and hoping that you'd update soon! I can't believe how much work is involved for you as handler - a written test, wow. Will you both have to do any helicopter training or anything like that? So many SAR jobs involve being choppered in.
     
  11. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    So sorry to hear of the loss of your OHs uncle, very sad. Sounds like you have had a lot on your plate, with one thing and another! So lovely to hear about your goofy Edsels progress, what a champ! :)
     

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