Monday, March 05, 2007

Cadaver Dirt Smells Yummy!

Reyna and I are back in Search and Rescue training with Donny, the same guy we originally trained with when Reyna was a pup. The last time we signed up for this, I hurt my back the day before the first session. Thankfully, that did not happen this time. Donny calls us his two cripples and his walking wounded, so he’s making a point of keeping our searches physically easier than they used to be. In fact, Reyna now only gets one standard search during each practice. I hate to admit it, but its probably a good thing. Reyna is still having some trouble with her hips, even with the new pain meds. And I feel it in my back every time we run a track.

Since we’re not letting Reyna work as much physically, we’ve decided to work that scary-smart brain of hers instead. She started training for cadaver searches a couple of weeks ago. Donny gave me a bottle with some cadaver dirt (yes, that’s dirt taken from around/underneath a dead and decomposed person) so that we can practice at home. Its teaching Reyna the scent she’s supposed to be hunting, since I can’t exactly give her a scent article that smells like a cadaver every time we start working. Basically, I just hide the open bottle, run her through the area telling her to “seek”, and when she finds the bottle, she gets heaps of praise. She hasn’t quite decided that looking for cadaver dirt is as exciting as looking for a live person, since the live person also gives her loads of praise, and the bottle just sits there. So I have to be really goofy about it, and make it as fun and rewarding as possible. She did better yesterday than she’s done recently, so I think its starting to click for her. Thankfully, cadaver work doesn’t exclude her from being able to look from live people, since that’s a different command. We “find” live people, but we “seek” for the dead. A simple distinction, but all-important in doggy vocabulary.

There is one drawback to being goofy...Reyna nailed me right below my nose with the top of her head yesterday. Now every time I blow my nose (which is a lot, thanks to this stupid cold), the sore spot makes itself known. Of course, I’m lucky she didn’t hit me any higher...she could easily have broken my nose, as hard as she hit it.

1 comment:

John said...

"Dead dirt" is good dirt!! You are lucky not to get your nose broken...ow...