Wilderness Search Dog Glossary

Adult evasives: healthy adults who don't want to be found.

Airborne scent: when scent is carried on air currents.

Alzheimer's: progressive dementia and brain degeneration. Though increasingly common in the elderly, a few people in their early thirties have been diagnosed with the condition. Alzheimer's patients are usually found about a mile and a half from their homes after wandering off.

Call–out: when a search dog team is called out to look for a lost person.

CAP (Civil Air Patrol): Primarily volunteers who conduct aerial searches.

Cellular phones: mobile communication devices that can help a lost person get help. Some mountainous terrain can prevent the use of a cell phone.

Chinook: warm wind from the Eastern Rocky Mountains, that can significantly raise temperatures. Most noticeable during the winter.

Comcator: combines GPS, cell phone, internet, camera and video camera in one small unit. Carrying some form of communicator is now becoming mandatory for emergency services such as law enforcement, EMS plus search and rescue personnel.

Contamination: when people, animals or other things contaminate an area or article with scents in addition to the lost person.

Critical Incident Stress (CIS): any stressful event that overwhelms your coping skills. May occur after finding a deceased victim(s) and or during a highly stressful search mission. Search dogs can also suffer critical incident stress. The dog should quickly be set up for a positive find and or extra praise (away from victim's relatives) and pampering. Disaster work, or finding too many deceased victims can end a dog's career. Part of this is the hander's reaction to finding the dead person. If a handler has a strong reaction, this can adversely effect their dog.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD): Much needed counseling for search and rescue personnel who find a deceased victim(s) and or are involved with a highly stressful search mission.

ELT: Emergency locator transmitter for a helicopter or plane.

Evasives: lost people who don't want to be found. It's not uncommon for children, mental patients, suicidal victims or seniors with dementia to avoid searchers. Evasives will hide in dense forests, caves or even cross water to avoid detection.

Flat light: lighting conditions where there is no depth perception and no shadows to differentiate height. The extreme effects are hard to explain unless experienced. Flat light has been a factor in accidents like helicopter crashes.

Flying Weight: the team's weight for aerial transport. I always give Ebbey and my weight with gear, because I am unwilling to be deployed without my pack. Search efforts can become chaotic and you could end up without vital supplies. If a helicopter's flying heavy, and cannot take a 40 pound (18kg) pack, don't fly with them unless it's your life or death.

GPS: Using satellites, the Geographical Positioning System identifies your latitude and longitude anywhere on earth.

Ground scent: when scent settles on the ground.

Hardness: a dog's resiliency toward unpleasant experiences.

Hypothermia: when the body temperature drops below normal, leading to shivering, impairment and even death. An issue for lost people, even during the summer, hypothermia is your number one enemy in the wilderness.

Indication: when a search dog indicates they have detected scent. National search dog certification requires dogs to display specific indication behaviors. This is essential in disaster situations, when many teams are working an area.

LKP (last known position): the last position a victim was known to be – such as a hiking itinerary left with friends or officials. Often where a search dog team begins the search.

New–gen: the latest 'new generation' technology. As in 'new–gen' scrambler used to disrupt wireless transmissions.

Onsite interloper (cowboys): people with a dog claiming to be an operational search dog team. Interlopers arrive at higher profile searches with big claims, hoping to collect fame, supplies and or money. Fraudulent teams put life at risk if deployed.

PLS (place last seen): the last place a victim was seen. Often where a search dog team begins the search.

Poacher vids: strategically placed micro camcorders transmitting streaming video 24/7 to monitor wildlife and possible poaching activities. Though viewable on the internet, their location is generic.

POD: abbreviation for 'Probability of Detection'. Searchers evaluate the likelihood of finding a specific victim based on age, health, terrain, weather etc.

Professionally Trained Search Dogs: A number of companies now sell search dogs with various levels of professional training. Prices vary and so do the results. Just because a search dog is already trained, and cost ten thousand dollars, does not mean . Even if you're the right person, and you find the right dog, it can still take up to a year before you're a field ready team.

Psychogenic shock: when a person who isn't used to pain is unable to talk or function (shuts down). This condition increases the chances of hypothermia.

SAR: abbreviation for 'Search and Rescue'.

Scent Article: an item with the lost person's scent.

Softness: dogs who are more sensitive to unpleasant experiences.

Stand down: when a search mission or deployment is terminated.

Sundown Syndrome: Delirious behavior of people with dementia (including Alzheimer's) during the hours of sunset. Can include increased agitation, fear, aggression and paranoia.

Thundersnow: when precipitation occurs at higher elevations with colder temperatures, it can fall as snow. Thundersnow lightning tends to be more yellow, than white.

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