Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 > Daily Dispatch #184

July 6, 2014: The Writing Life: K-9 Search and Rescue and Confidentiality Issues

Some of you may have noticed that I’m no longer writing dispatches about Ryder and our search and rescue training. This is something I’ve discontinued because we have ceased training. Someday we’ll do this again. There were a number of reasons for this – one being that Ryder, at least at this stage in her life, was not keen on this. She would find the subject, but rather than go up to them, she would just sit waiting for me. And yet another reason was that no one was ever forthright when it came to confidentiality issues.

I learned a while back (via email) that I’d erred in writing a dispatch entitled “The Real Deal,” which was about my participation in a March search. This (I think) caused considerable consternation on the part of the K9 unit and the organization as a whole. I cannot say because no one ever spoke to me about this directly. Rather, I got bits and pieces via email and from a couple of members. So I don’t know if my writing about Ryder and my training and posting photos of us and others was an issue. And I probably never will know because shortly after this, I decided to instead focus on horse training. It was a tough call. One of the members once said remarked that “we don’t have to love one another, just get along.” The most amazing thing was I did love everyone. And I loved dog training.

The Mat-Su SAR group consists of a great group of people, who collectively have considerable expertise in search and rescue. The adage that “they know their stuff” is definitely a truism.

I sensed that I knew what was coming. I most likely was going to be asked to remove “The Real Deal” dispatch. And I suspected that I would not be heard if I asked that the powers that be take a close look at that and other sites, and determine where I erred. After, I’d gladly rewrite it. I also sensed that I’d be asked to remove all the other search and rescue dispatches that I’d written. This wasn’t something that I wanted to do. So I bowed out.

What I have since realized is that confidentiality issues in relation to search and rescue is a very gray area. To simply say to members that “you are never to speak about anything involving any search” is too simplistic. People have (for example) to tell employers that they are going on searches. And information is quickly forthcoming from print, online, and other news sources. In the case of the supposed search dispatch, it was put up a month after the fact; this is because Pete was, and remains, so far behind on the postings. So this begs the question, how long should a search member wait before talking about such things? I heard a good number of people talk about other searches to non-members after the fact. For example, there was that search last September at Moose Creek. The handlers and dogs searched for the subject for two days – in the rain. Then, the following day, a bystander and her dog found the body. Go figure. So yes, some guidelines for existent and new members would be quite useful.

This all may be a moot point for us because I’m not sure that Ryder has the sniff capacity that she used to have. The veterinarian flushed bone fragments from her sinus cavity after Hrimmi kicked her, so her ability to search might now be in question. So what now? Resuming herding is one option. Another that I’m considering is again taking courses at Better Pet Companion. I was talking with Claudia about this, and she suggested that we do a freestyle class – this is a fun obedience class in which dogs learn some basic things, like go right, go left, and stand here. This would be good for our trail dog, who needs to know these things. So the next chapter of Ryder’s story may be called “The Making of a Trail Dog.”

I don’t regret my decision, to stop doing search and rescue. As I have learned, life (like an unknown trail) often takes unexpected twists and turns. I’m glad this is so, for adhering to the straight and narrow gets to be boring. It’s far better at times to take to differing paths and to check them out. You also never fully know what you will find or learn about yourself in the process of exploring these byways.

Next: 185. 7/7/14: A Conversation with Mr. Tinni