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SAR Western Washington State

All they ask is a scratch behind the ear
All they ask is a scratch behind the ear
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images

Many of our pets are truly working animals and many a vocation has been covered in this column. And there have been 1 or 2 stories of the working Search and Rescue Dogs. They and their human counterparts go toward where most of us shy away from; and put their personal safety on the line each time. These dogs are trained to let us make the decision, even when they are being lower down into a black hole from a helicopter, without any fear, because they trust us; frankly, many humans would not do that. These people are for the most part volunteers and all the dogs are volunteers, they seem up and on the road to search site when given only a few minutes’ notice. They give up their personal time, in some cases they give up the pay they would have received for the day of work they are now missing.

Recently we seem to hear more about them and the work they do, perhaps we are hearing more because some of us live in Western Washington State and are still looking for our friends, family and neighbors after a terrible mudslide. The truth is these dogs have been very visible in our life for some time, we have simply not taken the time to recognize the work they do or what is given up so we can have a loved one back or closure to the loss of someone close to us. As our lives began to unfold in mid-March on a quiet beautiful day, the horror was just unknown to us. Over the next 24 hours the dogs began to arrive with their human partners, looking for those we could not see or find in all the mud and debris. They worked tirelessly and then it was time to change to over to a different skill the other dogs have, to give us some closure. Interestingly, these dogs were brought in from Arizona as the SAR in Washington, were too tired and in some cases to dejected from not finding a person.

We understand the emotion of this kind of search as we are living it now. If you are struggling with the education, emotional package and the selflessness given for others; you can read: Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleston.