A morning playing “hide-and-seek” with Shasta County search dogs! This was my stakeout spot, huddled under a camo tarp. It was a bit chilly! Even with a good GPS, it takes the searcher-team a long time to grid a 50-acre square on foot. It was so peaceful-- and I'd had to get up so early to get to Shingletown on time-- I fell asleep for most of it. Woke up when I heard the dog closing in!

There's actually a science to how a scenting dog finds a hiding place. Most everyone is familiar with the concept of scent drifting in the direction the wind is blowing, but did you know that every spot with sun on it has an updraft from the warmer air? Whole books are written on the quirks of scent drift going uphill, collecting in trees and bushes, and eddying around obstacles. Time of day, temperature, weather patterns, moisture, and the amount of time the quarry has to shed scent in an area all have an effect.

Lani the Belgian Malinois did a great job finding me on first pass, closing in after about an hour of searching a 40-acre grid. She was a little turned around and after finding me, stops to listen for the bells her handler is wearing.

The search dog is not at all interested in interacting with me. Lani is fairly friendly off the job, but her mission at the moment is not just finding a person in the woods but getting her handler to the location. That is when the reward-- in Lani's case, a ball-on-a-rope-- gets delivered.

Rita the Malinois was also there, searching with speed and enthusiasm for another hider. Besides helping dog and handler locate each other in the woods, the very loud-ringing bells worn by the dog-teams alert wildlife and hunters to their presence and are a signal to lost persons. Read more about Search & Rescue