Hope and Bear are an inseparable pair of best buddies that have been raised together since they were puppies. Hope – a 3.5 year old Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler – and Bear – a 3.5 year old Shetland Sheepdog – have a most unusual job: searching for lost pets. An unfortunate event in the life of Hope and Bear’s owners prompted them to train the dogs for this work when they were both quite young. One of their dogs went missing in a remote area and even with their best efforts, their lost dog was never recovered. Hope and Bear now wear GPS tracking units at all times!
A typical day in the life of these two energetic pups involves a fair amount of playtime and rough-housing, plenty of exercise, and a few minutes to several hours of training. On other days, one or both dogs are out on the job, performing an actual search for a lost pet. Most of these searches involve a missing dog or cat, but requests to search for turtles, rabbits, goats, and horses have also come in.
Search dogs often work under grueling conditions and both Hope and Bear have suffered their fair share of injuries. Hope and Bear stay in good form though through preventive medical care, chiropractic care, hefty doses of joint supplement, and physical rehabilitation when needed. There exercise regimen includes recreational swimming in the ACC therapy pool.
They are trained in multiple search disciplines: Trailing, Area Search, and Decomposition. Trailing is sometimes commonly referred to as tracking, but the premise of this type of search is to follow the route taken by a missing pet for as long as it can be followed, ideally right up to the missing pet. This type of search is the most efficient, but cannot be done after much time has passed. Area searches involve clearing a specified area in search of a missing pet. These type of searches can work well if trailing is no longer viable but if the pet has remained relatively close to home. It is an unfortunate fact that living in Colorado puts our pets in close quarters with other predators. Although perhaps less frequent than commonly believed, some pets do succumb to predator attacks. During a decomposition search, the dogs can search a specified area for minute traces of remains after a predator attack, most of which go otherwise unnoticed by the human eye (and nose). This can help provide closure to pet owners or alternately provide hope that their pet is still alive and well.
Hope and Bear may not be typical breeds used as search dogs, but both dogs have strengths which allow them to do this work. Aside from being incredibly intelligent breeds, Hope possesses a relentless work ethic and Bear has a true love of playing and meeting any and all animals, as well as an incredible prey drive. For more information about lost pet recovery, visit www.missingpettracker.com