Wilderness or Area searches involve a victim lost in an area. The area is broken down
into grids and each grid assigned to one or more searchers. Searching the grid is done with the
dog off lead and free to move about. The handler works the dog back and forth watching for
signs that the dog has caught a scent in the air. Wind direction is an important consideration when
searching an area.
Tracking or Trailing searches involve a victim with a known position before they were lost, such as
at their vehicle or camp site, and an article with the victim's scent, such as a piece of clothing, car seat, etc.
The dog is worked in a harness with a long lead attached and will follow the victim's trail after being
introduced to the scented article. Wind direction is not important as the dog works with their nose to the ground.
Water searches involve a drowned victim. The dog and handler will
search an area by working a grid on a boat. The dogs are trained to indicate when they
have the scent. A GPS is used to mark the position of the boat every time the dog
indicates which allows the handler to zero in on the source of the scent. Divers are
sent into the water to finish the search once the location where the scent leaves the
water is found.
Cadaver or Human Remains Detection(HRD) searches involve a deceased victim. The dog and handler will
search an area by working a grid. The dog may be able to smell
remains as small as a tooth or buried several feet underground.
Obedience training involves teaching the dogs the standard commands of sit, down, stay and come. More
advanced obedience commands include stopping, alerting (such as a bark), moving slow or fast, staying while the
handler is out of site and loading into a vehicle or crate for travel.
Agility training prepares the dog for working on a variety of surfaces and conditions. The dog
is taught to climb ramps, jump onto platforms, go through tunnels and walk, sit or stay on elevated platforms.
More advanced agility includes climbing ladders and jumping over obstacles.
Avalanche work is one of the greatest challenges that we face. Many of the searchers
and dogs also find this the most thrilling areas to search. The most critical element
in finding a person alive is time. Most victims, who survive the ride, will not live
past 20 minutes if they are fully buried. This means that the members of the victims
party have the best chance to unbury their peer alive. This is why we preach and live
the essential skills of proper transceiver use and snow safety.