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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I decided not to continue working with Tilly in air scent. Repeated ankle injuries (years after a fracture, repeated strains from stepping in holes and twisting, even with good boots has led to instabiity on uneven surfaces) have finally led me to the conclusion that off trail work in live find is no longer an option for me.

I will still continue to work Beau until his retirement (he is 6 and seasoned) but HRD work is a bit slower and I can more watch where I step than I can covering large areas quickly with a live find dog. Beau will be the end of the SAR line for me then maybe a small dog we can take in our kayaks (flatwater) It was tough but figured there is no way I am ever going to have the speed necessary to do a proper job.

So I can still help train live find dogs with a book, a hammock, and hiding for them.
 

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Nancy, sorry to hear. But I know the feeling. Will you regime Tilly to another handler?
 

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No. We don't really have anyone who is in the right place to take her and she still has more prey drive than I like to see. I will probably do some HRD training with her but not to the level necessary for working her (but she won't know the difference). This dog would be a jam up on lead trailing dog but, as you know, trailing is harder on the joints than air scent.

I have a teammate who wants to learn HRD so, before he gets his own dog for it (which will be about a year as he just certified his young air scent dog) we may use Tilly to walk him through the training process. Tilly really likes him but he has 3 dogs and his air scent dog is an intact female. So a recipe for problems.

Also don't intend to get into any dogsports such as agility or dock diving. I am sure she would enjoy those things but there is only so much time....and the team still takes up a lot. Husband and I are also really getting into flatwater kayaking. I am not sure there is a good place for her to ride on our kayaks but I may take her and Beau out for a swim along the boats on kayak days then put them up in the truck while we finish our trips (normally about 3 hours)
 

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jocoyn - that goes back a long long time doesn't it -- now NancyJ -- new roles , that is all that it is , a new important,
valuable role that can only be attained by years of hands on experience - the trainer , the consultant , the sober second thought voice if you see a badly matched team or a dog lacking the "it" .

so how's the garden?
 

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Yes, any dog that comes into my home has a guaranteed good home for life. I talked with her former owner who I knew would also take her back to make sure she would not want to do sport with her and, while she is willing to take her, it would be the same situation. We agreed that given that......it makes more sense for her to stay here. Only if we found a situation that was better for her would I let her go. And, then, only with concurrence from her breeder and her first home.

Unlike Beau, Tilly is a good house dog :). Though they both enjoy each others' company.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
jocoyn - that goes back a long long time doesn't it -- now NancyJ -- new roles , that is all that it is , a new important,
valuable role that can only be attained by years of hands on experience - the trainer , the consultant , the sober second thought voice if you see a badly matched team or a dog lacking the "it" .

so how's the garden?
This year, the garden is a bit late. Gregg (husband) had back surgery and I was working on training two dogs so things just got to be too much. I plan on doing some bed renovation and irrigation development and getting it ready for a good fall garden. Maintaining Beau and hiding for teammates is not quite as intensive as training an air scent dog.
 

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Definitely a tough decision to make. I remember reading your posts about your certifications with Beau and trainings and was always impressed with how hard SAR Dogs and their handlers work . Just want to say thank you for your service.
 

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Nancy I think this is an issue that is very common in the SAR world. My heart goes out to you in having to come to terms with the limitations of our bodies. That is hard and I have had to confront this in various ways myself. It seems many of us have the time and ability to invest in SAR later in our physical lives. Unfortunate that that limits us. We have to find the grace to work with those limits and rise up how we can. Your work in HRD and with training and mentoring others I know to be a very very worthy and honorable "job".

Personally I think gardening is really hard on the body too! hahahah.

Peace!
 

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So very sorry to hear this news Nancy.. I can only imagine the war you have had between the undaunted warriors heart and spirit and the human breakable body. Never easy when the body betrays you and becomes the weak link. Still, your insights, wisdom, experience and abilities will be benefit all who come in contact with you - and be the better for it..
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I have seen some who did not "know when to fold them" and knowing your limitations is a very important part of doing this. Last thing you want is to be out there hurt and re-directing a search effort to a rescue effort. Having another teammate go before me who had a health issue helps keep that perspective going. She, too, had to make a hard choice.

And, of course, Beau and I still do probably have 2-4 more years doing HRD. He is 6.
 

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Nancy, I am facing the same decision. But for different reasons. I have done SAR for over 20 years. And while my body still has it in it to keep going, not sure my heart does. I am slowly getting tired of having that much responsibility. I am starting to feel like I want to just have fun with no pressure. Cause to me titles are no pressure. I don't care if I fail to title. I do care if I miss something or my dog is performing well during a search. So I am slowly coming to terms now of letting a huge part of who I have been go.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
All that plays in. It becomes a part of who you are.......
 

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It is a huge mental strain when analyzing a SAR k9 handler role. As a ground pounder you are responsible for your own abilities and can rely on fellow ground pounders consensus that an area is covered and nothing missed. As a K9 handler, you take sole responsibility for yourself of course, but also the dog who may be highly instrumental in driving how the search goes.. Keeping up the training of oneself is one thing, but to do it for another species, even one we know and love so much is truly another mental pressure, besides time, money, and physical exertion.. Also, (absolutely no disrespect meant for LE as I appreciate all they do, but making a point might seem like I'm belittling an aspect of their work and I am not) when SAR is called upon, it is sporadic, often having large gaps in between sudden bunches. LE is on the road most everyday keeping their skills honed and proving themselves, learning from the many opportunities presented. For SAR, it is learn on the job quite often with each experience being the 'new' one.

This also can be mentally taxing, so when I say that thank you for service to gsdsar and Nancy, I mean it with all my heart. Twenty years of service is a long time for any thing, especially a costly volunteer service that demands so much out of you, your family, finances and of course the dogs. Still, any decision made must be a knife to the heart. I know it is a part of who I am in every way. And while only a few years into my 'career' as a professional volunteer K9 handler, I know how it would hit me if/when I am faced with such a decision. Still, both of you have tremendous experience and knowledge to share and help others just getting started, allowing for less emotional wear and tear, and certainly less physical punishment
 
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