Last night, as part of our team training, we set up some problems in the dark for the dogs.
We were located at Ontario County Park near a feature called the jump-off. Gracie had never done any searching in the dark so this was a new experience for her to see me with a headlamp. She also needed to get use to her new collar light which is an Auroralight. This is a bright green led collar that can be seen from a long distance away and allows me to keep tabs on her location while she is searching. Her bell is quite helpful as I could hear her often before she was visible.
We were given a small 10 acre area that was located between the drop off and the park road. There was a nice 10-15 mph breeze coming out of the West. This seemed to be an ideal condition but the features of the hill that we were searching turned out to be somewhat challenging from a wind perspective. As we were at the top of a 200 foot moraine the wind came up the hill and went right over the top. Parts of the search area had a good wind, and about half of the area was dead calm.
Gracie and I made 3 passes through the area from North to South with about 50 yards between the passes. Given the wind where we started I thought this would be sufficient to find the subject. This did not appear to be the case. We had missed her. So I had her shine her light so that we could locate her general position and we made another pass. When we got close to her I had her shout out so that Gracie knew someone was there and to get her excited about finding someone. She heard the voice but didn’t seem to change her level of excitement. As the spot we were in at that point was one of the dead air areas, we did a tight grid and came up with the subject. Gracie did a good indication for me and went back into the subject for her reward. We were within 25 yards of the subject when she was located.
This was a good lesson for me, I had no idea that wind conditions could change that much due to the geographic layout. I have studied what may happen but experiencing it is another story. I needed to alter my search grid to compensate for the changing conditions.