The village of Hancock, NY January 2nd, 2009. Subject goes missing from Rid-Aid Pharmacy building… the subject is a diabetic that hasn’t taken their meds. This was the given scenario for this training trail that Maya and I ran on January 3rd, 2009. This trail was 30 hours old, making it our new oldest successful urban trail to-date. During the time this trail was aging there were steady winds 15 mph or greater and approx. 2 inches of snow had fallen, was plowed and melted…. the contamination at the start of this trail was tremendous, likely hundreds of people over that span of time.
It was a around 4:30pm when we started the trail. This trail was ran totally blind… knowing nothing other than the PLS (point last seen). We had a big crowd observing today…. Patty from Amigo SAR Dogs (Maya’s past evaluator and tester), Tom from Amigo, Vickie; an owner of a bloodhound that we worked with earlier in the day, along with Sarah of EVSD (Eagle Valley Search Dogs). And of course, my little trail-making mad scientist and sidekick, Rita.
I scented Maya off the article in front of the pharmacy doors and we went to work. This was a very challenging start and probably took us a good 10 minutes to figure it out…. The wind had blown up these alley streets that were only 75 yards long or so… I have been finding that I don’t get negatives from the dog until I get around corners of buildings…. The trail basically went from the pharmacy south to the railroad tracks and the subject walked along side the railroad tracks until where West Front St. / Rte. 97 / East Front St. all merge, at that point he continued across to East Front St. and continued walking east then went into a hotel / restaurant.
Maya did great…. what made this trail most challenging were three general things: One: the age, snow, and wind. Two: the traffic, which kept getting the dog frustrated every other minute when I’d have to stop her. Three: me not trusting my own dog…. so bad. Getting pre-conceived ideas in your head will kill you every time. We did a good job but my dog kept pulling back to the actual track many times which was a good part along the railroad tracks…. I continually pulled her off because I was in the mindset that Rita was laying the trail “more in the village,” not just on a side street. This was a first. So I kept doubting my dog…. what a no-no when you know that you have trained your dog well. Then what happened was that she started to doubt herself, I knew this by her looking back at me a handful of times. I rarely, question my dog’s commitments but even when I have, she has always been right. Huge mistake on the handler’s behalf. So there was scent up these side streets but her original reaction was to continually go back to West Front St. and plowing down that…. I kept saying to myself…. no — …. well, lets just check out the intersection. This confused her a bit. The last intersection we were hot on it and I walked her up to the north part of the intersection, figuring if there was scent up there then the trail would have to be up there too. Well, there wasn’t scent up there and she clinged to the walls of the buildings on the east side of 97 dragging me south back to the intersection then east around the corner to the hotel/restaurant and right into the building where Sid, our subject was hanging out. We did it! It took us 27 minutes to do a .4 mile trail. 10 minutes of that was the start and another 10 minutes of it was me wrongly questioning my dog…. we ended up traveling a total of .86 miles before getting to the subject. All ended well in a very reasonable time given the variables in the trail. I know I say this all the time…. but I LOVE MY DOG! That’s my-my!