As I walked the halls at the ARF shelter looking for a missing dog,
I heard a terrible raucous coming from the one of the holding kennels. When I got to the noisy kennel I saw a large
German Wirehaired pointer standing in the middle of the pen barking his head off. As happens with those dogs
that are called... he looked into my eyes and I knew... he was one. I really did not have room at my house at the time
for another dog but the kennel staff told me his story and saw my demeanor change. Brodie had been surrendered by
his family along with all the other family pets because the young couple had just had a baby and did not want to
be bothered with pets. It was an awful situation for Brodie. With a little encouragement from the the
pet owner I was working with, I decided to test him.
And it was no easy test. I did not know the dog and he did not
know me but if he could understand me in the five minute test, I knew he would be great. We took him to a
large room literally filled with toys. I selected one toy and put my scent on it and threw the toy. The
big pointer ran after the toy and brought it back to me. I then had the staff remove Brodie while I hid the toy in another
room. When the big dog returned I told him to find it. Intuitively the dog knew and ran to the door motioning for someone
to open the door for him. He proceeded to the next room, found the toy and brought it back to me. By now much
of the kennel staff had gathered in the big room cheering for the large scruffy dog. I told them I would
give him one more test and they removed him from the room again. I took the toy and went over to a barrel of thirty or more
toys. I hid the toy at the bottom of the barrel and refilled the barrel with toys. When
Brodie returned to the room, I again told him to find it. He checked the room and then went to the barrel, knocked
it over and dug through the toys until he found the one that I had put my scent on. He of course brought me the toy.
In five minutes I discovered he could decipher scent and was intelligent enough to understand what I was asking
of him with only a simple instruction. Brodie joined the team that day.
To become a member of the K9 team, we look for dogs that not
only have a strong ability to detect scent but also for dogs that are independent thinkers. When working a case,
the handler runs on the dumb end of the leash; the tracking dog makes the decisions and instructs how to get to the missing
pet the quickest. Brodie moved onto the team quickly and within three months was working back up on cases. Today he is lieutenant
to our lead dog Cade.
It was a great decison that day in Iowa.. both for Brodie and for me.