Good boys and girls from all over the country have come to Camp ASCCA in Jackson Gap for a very important purpose. The four legged friends are training to find missing persons and cadavers at a week-long seminar taught by Canine Search and Recovery.
The search and rescue dogs will put their sniffing ability to the test in a wide variety of search and rescue scenarios.
One of these scenarios was that of a missing autistic child. She was known to take trails and likes to hide in buildings.
The search was a simulation of a common search and rescue operation. Where a K-9 and handler attempt to find a missing person quickly before resources are expended forming a larger search party.
Maya, a veteran german shepherd mix was quick to catch the scent. As a non-scent discriminating dog, she doesn’t need a sample scent of a person to find them. Maya quickly passed by the distracting smell of the cadaver search class. She was let off her leash and ran as far as she could within eyesight of her handler Marion Tisdale.
Tisdale adopted Maya when she was just a puppy. They have been training for and participating in rescues together for 9 years.
Maya is looking for any human scent in a hasty search of high-traffic areas. She wears a bell which gives her owner a plethora of information.
“When they get in a scent they will pick up their pace and we can hear that,” said Tisdale. “You can listen to the pace of the bell and realize ‘hey, she's got something going on, there's more interest there and we should spend more time there!”
As the duo near a bathroom along the trail she starts to run.
“See her pace pick up here,” Tisdale said. “She’s trying to sort something out.”
Maya circles the bathroom stalls before sticking her nose under the door.
“This is typically when I would help her with the door,” Tisdale said to the Instructor.
Maya jumps up, placing her paws on the stall door. Then she runs and does the same to Tisdale.
“What did you find?” Tisdale asks Maya, his voice higher pitched.
Tisdale slips a chew toy over the stall door.
“Brandy, can you show your hand under the door?” asks the instructor.
Brandy, the ‘missing child’ slides the chew toy under the door.
“What is that?” Tisdale exclaims, his voice still high-pitched. “That’s it. That’s it. You did such a good job. What is it back there?”
Tisdale slyly hands a pouch of SPAM over the stall door. Brandy gives under the door to Maya who scarfs it down.
“Who’s a good girl?”
This is just one of dozens of missing people found over the four-day event, w here dogs learn to track, trail and recover on land and in the water.
Hundreds of rescue trainees from all over the county attended.
"They will take their training back to their communities where they provide their services to their communities free of charge," CSAR president and NASDA vice president Janet Geist said.