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Discussion Starter #1
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:wink2:

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 :grin2:
 

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I'm so glad you and your girl were able to help bring closure to that family.So sad and great job everyone.
 

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Excellent work, you deserve to be proud. It is a comfort to the victim's family to have remains to respectfully put to rest. It doesn't change anything of course, however there is no such thing as a comfort too small when it comes to these situations. As a parent the "not knowing" and the lack of closure would make the grief so much harder to get through.
 

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Great teamwork and knowing your girl brought closure to the family and the family trusted the dogs in their alerts has to be very rewarding. The family knew with the dogs there everything was being done to locate their child - they will have peace in that. Very nice job and prayers for the family for their loss.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you everyone!

We have seen how much it means for the family to have some part of their loved one to bury. But this particular situation was very impacting to a lot of people. The young man who lost his life was well liked, a great football player who got a full ride scholarship for his playing skills. The three other teenages had to be rescued by local fishermen that we're nearby or we would have had more deaths. They have to live with this one impulsive choice that had such tragic consequences...

The mother was so happy the dogs were there and while she had to wait a few days for confirmation, she had some peace knowing where he was until he could be recovered...and that he hadn't drifted away during the first few days of diving and somewhere along the 150 plus miles of river bank before the ocean. So it was an eye opener to how much the dogs helped in the anxiety of not knowing where her son was.
 

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Glad you and your team were able to help this family in such a difficult ordeal.

A lot of rivers are running high, fast and will continue to do so for awhile.Our Memorial weekend hike was snowed out so to speak and all that snow is going to keep water levels up and dangerous.
 

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Yes we had lost a friend of the family in a river rafting accident around this time of a year. The rivers were high and dangerous. They should have never went out out on tour with the river so high and fast. He was no stranger to the roaring rapids and a good swimmer. Helping people back in the raft when it flipped. He thought he could recover himself but got caught in a funnel left behind a wife and young kids. Again many prayers for the family.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That is so tragic Jenny720, I'm sorry. It is common for good swimmers and experienced water people to drown, unfortunately. Often those not in the know are safer...
 

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That is so tragic Jenny720, I'm sorry. It is common for good swimmers and experienced water people to drown, unfortunately. Often those not in the know are safer...
Rivers are certainly not to be taken lightly. Just because river rafting tours are operating also does not mean the waters are any safer. Thank you - so very tragic.
 

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Heneni7, were you out on Thursday? Just wondering as I saw several folks on that railroad trestle that day.

Great work to you and your kids. It is something I wished I had time to pursue.

Funny, on Monday, yesterday, I was talking with a client and he was telling me about the drowning (I rarely have opportunity to hear news, local or otherwise, so I count on those around me to keep me filled in) and how Dmetri was found close to where he drowned. From there I told him about SAR dogs being able to locate victims that are under water. He was surprised that they could do that and we talked about how amazing their noses are.

Fast forward to that night and I see that you, Hineni7, posted that day on this forum. I think I have read all your posts on the SAR forum as well as some of your blog. Of course that was a good reason to stop and read. Imagine my surprise when you were involved with the very activity I was just discussing with my client earlier.

I was disappointed that I did not notice any mention of your activity even in a general one when I did a quick internet search. I think it would be a great way to present to the public just what SAR dogs can do and how often they are the unsung heroes. They located Dmetri, the divers just couldn't find him due to the river conditions.

All done as a volunteer.

Very well done!

Thank you for all the thankless and often anonymous time, work and heart you and all other SAR folks give to the rest of us!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you Mika's mom. Yes we were out there that Thursday, although we were either on the river or under the overpass working the dogs. Then waiting out of site while the dive team did their work.

While we are not the focus of any rescue or recovery, it is true that it is unfortunate that no mention was made. We as volunteers rely on donations and public awareness to continue doing what we do. Honestly, we get few donations ever, so having the public aware of what, how, and why we do what we do. But I was glad they gave props to the dive teams who worked so hard.

It was ironic you were talking about that at that time, haha! Thanks again
 

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Heine7 Thank you for everything you do to help families have closure. the volunteers who do SAR whether they are finding a senior with dementia ,a child or helping locate the body of a loved one are most often volunteers. Thankfully communities have folks like you and pups like yours. sad that a young man was lost. Rivers can be so dangerous but exceptionally so when flooded. Thank you for all you and all the SAR folks and pups do for us.
 

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We have a very strict team policy of not discussing any search on social media or the intenet but drownings are the most troubling to me.

Yesterday was another day of PTO spent on a water search with the evening spent with reflections of a young life cut short under preventable and stupid circumstances and the day after that is surreal and unsettled. The water usually takes the young ones full of life and future. With children and grandkids who like the lake and swim and play in it and with my husband and myself who love our kayaks...........I think how little it takes to prevent most of this.

My one plea is wear a life jacket on any boat. Just do it. You can wear a self inflating model. Strong swimmers drown easily in the right circumstances. Anyone can pass out before they hit the water and quickly sink.

Don't do stupid stuff. Don't walk on dams or the tops of waterfalls. For God's sake don't go into a boat without a life vest if you cannot swim. Do not dive in after your dog who will probably make it to the shore just fine. Do not operate a boat drunk. Do not tie your kid to the mast of a sailboat if you are caught in a storm. Know that diving into cold water can cause you to drown. .........all of these were causes of drownings we have been on.

Water is unforgiving. Recovery diving is extremely dangerous. Yesterday on we had several warnings when someone spotted copperheads mere inches from our feet as we were working the shoreline.

I saw the first face of a drowning victim freshly pulled out of the water almost 18 years ago and cannot erase that image from my mind. There is a road I frequently drive down which a toddler was pulled out of the river about 10 years ago. I cannot drive past that road without replaying that whole night in my head.............

The times when someone is found alive buoys you up. The dead haunt you. Forever. And I am not sure you ever get over that. You can reconcile yourself with the fact that you are only finding flesh and bones and not the essence that made that person who they were but I don't know that they ever don't bother you.

Press coverage. Most of us avoid the press like the plague and curse their helicopters who mess up air patterns for the dogs and the idiots who make comments about the family on social media. Knowing the family knows is enough and they usually do.

Hineni - feel what you feel and it never goes away but you can reconcile yourself with the comfort it brings even if that comfort is knowing that total strangers cared enough to bring your loved one "home" - I don't think there can be such a thing as "closure" though a loved one can at least stop looking for the lost one.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nancy you bring up excellent points. And thank you for your tireless efforts and sacrifices over the years. Your remindes of water safety are all excellent but often not heeded advice, and even the most experiencd get in trouble and can lose their lives.

The comment on media was not to being up individuals (media was out and we were careful to be as unnoticed as possible as it is not about us.. however, our work (SAR and SAR to) is an often misunderstood undertaking and while we don't do it for attention (at least those of us who take this seriously), it is a double edged sword. Not enough attention means we bare the cost of everything (which is where we are at now and have been for years) or get a little public notice and maybe we can have team gear that helps keep individual costs down. That was the point of the 'media' comment. As a team, we know that if one is singled out and with permission from IC/LE interviewed it is with great discretion, tact and the teamwork from all hands and departments acknowledged. There is no I in SAR

Finally, to the haunting memories we obtain from doing what we do...it comes with the service. Although some are more disturbing then others, and sometimes affect you in ways you would never expect. The very real dangers of copperheads (Rattlers in my area), terrain, weather, and sometimes circumstances are ever present... Again, a thank you to you and your team for taking the risk to help this family find a place to begin the healing process. Drownings are definitely hard although I've found the suicids to be a bit more lingering in the brain game of my head.
 

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It is odd. The suicides have not been the ones that hit me as hard - and they are by far the most graphic. We have rattlesnakes too but mainly in the mountains and lowcountry. Copperheads not really deadly but the Rattlesnake locations are often remote and far from help.

This weekend we had an accident in a gator in a swamp and that was scary with one teammate injured, me holding onto the dog looking for alligators and snakes. another teammate holding the ice pack to his bleeding head....He wound up losing a tooth and busting up his face, but he saved my dog from serious injury.

True on the money we do pretty well with folks actually going around to businesses. Press coverage from certifications has been very popular for us that and news pieces on it etc. or an event we did with autistic kids. Links to it on our facebook page scsardak9.

And thank YOU. This is hard stuff but it sure is a thing of wonder working with the dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm sorry your teammate was injured but very glad you and your dog were ok.

What we do with the dogs..what they allow us to do, and the way they take their jobs seriously (they know when it is work and when it is play, and even the difference between training and a mission) without complaint is inspiring. To be partners with such talent is a joy. And the amaze more often than not.
 

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So you guys let your dogs go INTO the water? That would make it easier for pinpointing but. Alligators here and other dangers. Plus it makes training multiple dogs on one source a bit messy with odor all over the boat. I think that is something they do up there that is different.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Some do, I do not. I don't think it a wise practice for several reasons; 1) we have very cold waters and strong currents 2) dog can get hit by boat etc 3) boat gets wet and adds odor from dogs coat thus causing other dogs to prematurely alert... There are more reasons but they are my own preference.

I do know of people whose dogs alert that way, but not on my team.
 
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