My wife Bobbie and I have had dogs all of our lives. All sizes and shapes: purebred, mixed breeds and strays. We were a foster home for the Humane Society at one time. We love our dogs and they are all special in their own ways. This is the story about one of them, Moses.
In 2005, after losing a couple of our favorite dogs, we backed off looking for replacements. Losing them is very hard. A few months passed and while on a business trip to Wisconsin, I saw on TV where some search dogs had found a man whose car had wrecked in the snow. I thought it would be neat to have a dog that could do that.
When I got home Bobbie informed me she had decided what we would do with our next dog. Without me saying a word….she said search and rescue! I then told her my story and we decided it must be a God thing.
We started our search and located Georgia Piedmont Search and Rescue. They invited us to join them for training. After a couple of months we decided to get a puppy to train. We were drawn between a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd. The lady who had the Golden’s for sale was never available. After a couple of weeks of leaving messages, we headed off to Newnan to look at a litter of German Shepherd’s. About halfway to Newnan, we got a call about the Golden’s. So, we turned around and went to see them first (another God thing).
The littler was nearly identical and it was very hard to choose. There was one however that seemed more adventuresome and didn’t seem to care what the others were doing. Finally, after running all the tests we knew, it was still tied. Then the adventuresome one went over and got into a wrestling match with a cat! That sealed the deal. (I am sure there are more professional ways to select a puppy, but this was ours.) We named him, Moses.
From 10 weeks old Moses started his training. As a ball of fur he tracked a source while backing down the trail locating it rear-end first. From that day on, he became better and better at what he does. He likes search and rescue. He loves finding people in training. If you don’t watch him – he will reward himself by taking your radio, cell phone, hat, or anything else he thinks you may want! So the game is on….he stays just close enough to entice you, but won’t let you have it back until Bobbie gets there and tells him to ‘drop it’.
Moses is the kind of dog that makes you feel like you are a dog trainer. But all too often you discover that it is his initiative and not yours that gets the job done. Moses has participated in over 60 searches in his career. He has done work for law enforcement in many counties in Georgia [local, as well as the GBI, FBI, and GEMA].
He loves people, especially children. Moses has demonstrated his abilities for the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army Summer Camp, Camp Fortson, Friends House, 4-H Dog Club, High Falls State Park, Panola State Park, Charlie Elliott State Park….as well as numerous other events.
His enthusiasm boils over into the audience when he comes into the room. He is a clown and loves to hear the audience laugh. He has discovered if he disobeys his commands, he gets a laugh. Tell him to ‘sit’ and he will back down and he will side pass and so on….until you tell him to get serious. Then he will do his obedience routine flawlessly including bowing at the end.
In addition to being a certified Search Dog, Moses is also a certified Therapy Dog. Once he learned that the tennis balls on the legs of the senior’s walkers were not his, the seniors enjoyed his visits!
He was called on recently to do a cadaver demonstration at the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia. Professional handlers from across the country watched his flawless performance. But the highlight of the event was when Bobbie (not known for her throwing ability) threw Moses his ball across the field. Moses, who was sitting at the source, never moved a muscle and caught the ball. A perfect strike. The audience applauded and Moses proceeded to greet each of them, as if to say look what I did!
When the AKC Reunite presented grant money to several Georgia teams, they had Governor Deal present the checks. Moses sat on Governor Deal’s foot as the picture was taken!
Moses is now 9 years old and will retire from search and rescue work. Like his handlers, he gets a little stiff if he works too long. He will still do some demonstration and therapy work along with a lighter training schedule.
In a recent training, Moses was working a cadaver problem and Bobbie let him take a break in the creek. In a few minutes a training victim – who was in the woods about a quarter mile away – got on the radio and declared that Moses had just found him and had taken his hat! We did not know he had gone….. I guess he doesn’t know he is retired!
By Frank Hancock