Okay, let me first tell you–YES. Emphatically, and un-apologetically, I use the phrase “Find Boo” in training Hanani. “Boo”, for us, refers to human blood, body fluids, bone, both ancient and fresh. Not that I have any fresh bones, per say, as my serial killer friends are no longer functional. (jkg) Seriously, I’ve been bashed and mocked by some folks in SAR for using the term “Boo”, and before I share this video I want to explain why I chose to train on “Find Boo.”
A command is more than a word
When choosing commands to train a dog we usually think of common things, such as sit, down, here or come. Those are basics that almost everyone seems to use. When you advance in training, especially in specific fields (pun intended), you often must come up with new words for different activities in order to help your dog understand what she is supposed to do. For example, I taught Hanani “place”, which is actually a small trampoline in our yard. “Place” is simply a defined area you tell your dog to go to. It could be a pillow on the floor of your house (which, for us, inside that is place), a mat, or one of those fancy dog cots anywhere you put it. The point is, it is a defined area that your dog knows he needs to go sit in until you tell him otherwise.
“Place” is a defined area your dog goes to when given the command, and sits until you tell him otherwise.
In our yard, however, we also have small porch at our side door. There are times I need Hanani to go and remain there. So I came up with a new word to help her understand the difference. When I tell her “Stoop” she jumps up to sit on that porch, and that location never changes. When I tell her “Place” she goes to one of the small trampolines we have in the yard, the location of which can change at any time.
It’s not much different when teaching a dog to find a live person versus a dead one. Although Hanani is not formally trained on live, we do play games like “find me” (aka, hide and seek) or “Find Mia.” At least a few times at Lowe’s Jamie would go in first. Hanani and I would wait outside 3-5 minutes and then go in to look for him. Every time I said “Find Jamie” she put her nose to the floor and walked his entire trail until she found him! That says a lot, considering we never trained for live searches 🙂 She’s such a great dog!
The point is, when folks in SAR are looking for people presumed alive, they either have a name of the person they’re searching for, or they have a command, such as “Find Fred.” Bystanders anticipate the dog will find the victim alive. When a cadaver dog is brought in, it may be an instance where family, friends and others are not aware the lost individual is presumed dead. Out of respect and as to not alert anyone, I learned while researching this a couple years ago, it is a good idea to use a term that bystanders would not recognize. I picked “Boo” because it’s short, easy to say, does not sound the same as any other command, and no one else but my dog knows what I am talking about.
Now that that’s out of the way… Fun stuff!
In spite of the issues we have with Hanani (fear-reactive, aggression), she is still the coolest dog to work with! She not only loves to work and will at least try anything I ask of her, she is dog-on good at it! And we have fun!
We shall leave you, for now, with this short video we made the other night. Since Mia is still trying to figure out how to work a camera without thumbs, I took the video on my phone while Hanani worked. So, sorry about the lack of quality. But if you’re anything like me, you should find some excitement here. Let me set the stage: I worked Hanani in a largely dark area of my home. Anges (our cadaver doll) was “bloody” in the first bedroom, with the door closed. Hanani started at the front door, checked part of the living room, then headed up the few stairs to the hall where the bedrooms are. She quickly located the room where Anges was and hollered to let me know! The hall light was off to create a more realistic-type of exercise for my girl, but it’s dark for only a short time.
Please share your thoughts and ideas below! Thanx for hanging out with us 🙂