On SAR dogs

I've heard firefighters say that being a firefighter involves a lot of waiting - watching TV, reading, solving crosswords - and then, when the alarm goes off, a few hours of action.

Being part of SAR, I imagine, will be similar.

Every morning I grab the lead, the collar, a packet of treats and head out the door with The Dog. We learn about each other and we work. "Otsi!" I say to her, "Otsi!" and she explores the scentbox. Basic, repetitive work, every morning the same thing, again, and again, and again.

It'll be like this for months and then we'll progress a little further, and then we'll repeat that next thing for months. Again, and again, and again.

And even if one day we do qualify as a dog team, we'll be called out, say, two, maybe three times a year. And sometimes we'll get called and we'll head out and we'll arrive and then - we won't even make it past the parking lot because we'll be called off again.

Mostly, it's about patience, at least in this beginning stage here - about patience to head out and make the damn scentbox and when The Kid has gone down for a nap, to go grab the collar and the lead and head out again for another 15 minutes, even if the dishes are waiting to be washed and it would really be much easier to sit down and stretch out and just breathe for a change.

My workmate often laughs at me when I tell her about our doggie antics. She got herself a puppy first, as sort of a test to see what having kids would be like, and then, later on, she had children.

I, on the other hand, am doing it "the wrong way around", she says. I got a kid and returned to work and then, to make it even more interesting, got a puppy I'm intending to work with. She says I'm a bit crazy.

And to that I think: maybe. Probably am.

But here's the thing: I really wanted a kid, and as far as I was aware, it was better done sooner rather than later because not everyone can go and get a kid, snap!, just like that when they finally decide they're ready. I much rather preferred having one now rather than possibly banging my head with fertility treatments later in life and that was that.

And with The Dog, it's sort of the same.

I don't have many illusions about The Kid becoming drastically easier in the next few years and I was definitely not interested in postponing The Dog by another, say, ten years so it really didn't matter if I was going to do it now or slightly later - it was gonna be hard anyway, and so I did it. And I didn't want a lap dog, I wanted a working dog, even if this one here I sometimes look at, with almost tears in my eyes, and think: where the f*ck do you get all that energy from?!

And so this is what we do here. The Kid has gone down for a nap, I've gone and worked The Dog and now I've been lucky enough to sit here for half an hour and write, and breathe. And for all this work we  do here we won't actually get to do real SAR work a lot, but the thing that matters to me is: me and The Dog will have our mission and we'll always have something to do and one day we'll possibly have that hour or two in the bush when the work we do will actually matter.

And maybe there will never be that moment, at least not with this dog here, but at least we'll always have something to work on. And that, I think, keeps me busy. I feel like I've got a purpose here.

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