Why search and rescue dogs? A true story.
Many years ago my brother, who lives in California came home to find his long time partner was not there. While not a common occurrence it was not to surprising as they lived on a ranch in the wine country. With streams and red wood trees it was certainly a beautiful place to go for a walk. As the day turned to evening the tension increased and when he didn’t return home by night fall the worry and panic had settled in.
With no sign of him no word form neighbors the authorities were called in. As is normal in this type of situation the first place the police inquired was to the possibility of fowl play by my brother. Upon due investigation this was ruled out as the likely cause of the disappearance. The next procedure was to look for a lost or possibly injured man. Unfortunately this was a difficult task as they lived in a rural area with few people and lots of open country of mountains, valleys, woods, and fields. There were many ravines and rough terrain making the searching very difficult.
The authority’s found no trace of my brothers missing partner. This is when that awful devastating feeling of helplessness comes upon those who are missing a lived one. The not knowing where, not knowing if, not knowing why, not knowing how. There is no relief from from these questions. The days go on but the torment of the questions never leave as you try to function day to day. You can think of nothing else, wish for nothing else, pray for nothing else other than to know the answer to the questions. Day after day, week after week, month after month relentlessly with no answers.
Then on a Saturday morning there is a knock at the door. A group of strangers are standing there with a couple of dogs. They ask for permission to try to find the man missing for six months. They ask for a piece of clothing that were definitely worn by him. They are given a pair of pajama pants. The dogs are given the pants to get the sent and then told to “go find”. Six months of rain,wind, sun, six months of plant growth how could they follow any type of scent trail. This is why we train search and rescue dogs. The dogs led the handlers directly to where he was. In a deep ravine in a wooded area the dog went directly to the body. The other dog went directly to the walking stick a few yards away that he had been using.
Everyone always hopes for the best of possible outcomes but the relief of finally knowing is almost palpable. The healing and closure that these volunteers and there dogs brought was of such a benefit that it makes all of their time, effort, and money spent well worth it. Without them we still would not know and the questions would still persist. Thank you for all that you did.