For those of you who are fellow sister and brothers in SAR, you know how difficult working a K9 can be for odor on land and water... Water being the more foreign substance due to not being fish
My dogs certified last fall for water HRD and over this past week, proved themselves out. Unfortunately, some teenagers thought it a good idea to jump off a freeway overpass into a flood stage river. Three got out, one did not. The river was way over flooded and known to have fallen trees and old fencing (wire) in it. Dive teams tried for 3 days to locate the body, and since the waters were quite warm (62F) and the river had a confluence not too far away into a much much larger river, there was concern the body may be missed should it 'pop up' at night or in an area not easily seen. The search was called off, but the family was friends with another professional diver who knew about myself and a teammate. So the PD handling the case was notified by the family of the situation and they reached out to our Sheriff who gave his blessing for mutual aid, and a long trip down to the area was made.
We were towed quite a ways up the river past the confluence and finally to the hwy overpass and the railroad overpass and jump off point. I off loaded with my girl (I left my boy in the car as there was little room in the boat and we had two dogs working the area already) and would work shoreline first, and my teammate would work in the boat. We would swap and see what our dogs had said afterwards. Media and family observed from a close distance. My girl was pretty quick in getting odor (I started her well above the jump off point and negative space) and entered the water and pillar 2, head pops at pillars 3 and 4 and entered into the water at 5. We exchanged positions and my teammate worked shoreline and my girl worked the boat. The river was pretty hard to work through with a trolling motor, especially with the high winds barreling through (a storm blew in a few hours later) the underpass. My girl had definitive odor and strong alerts at pillars 3 and 4, not much above, and nothing past pillar 5. My teammates dog had strong alerts at pillar 2 and 3 and spots along the shoreline, with pooling odor in reeds 50m past the overpass. We relayed the information to the divers and PD and told them where we felt the body was. We also told them where we felt he could be swept down to when he did pop up if he wasn't recovered beforehand.
The divers worked their hearts out, but they had zero visibility underwater, tons of debris to avoid, and 25ft of moving water depth. Despite excellent work on their part, they were unable to locate him that day, or 3 days later. On Sunday, the young man popped up (the family and friends kept a vigil, watching the pillars because the dogs said he was there) at 10am just below pillar 3 and was quickly and respectfully, recovered. The family can now begin their grieving process and begin to heal once he is laid to rest.
For my teammate and I, it was a somber time for the family and the reality of what they and these other kids and community, are going through. However, it was also a wonderful confirmation that our dogs are working well and doing what they have been trained to do, effectively. We are very proud of them