But this is rather special so, putting my best foot forward, girding my loins as it were, I started to write a daily diary of our work and play. I say play because a dog, no matter how much of a working dog he may be, must also have play time to just be a dog and enjoy himself.
I have been very conscious of making sure that Jochen has free time as right from the beginning he has been a very serious dog. This characteristic threw me at first as my former search dog Achim was quite the opposite. For 9 years I worked with a dog who had very high energy and was always ready to jump up convinced that the most wonderful, exciting and joyful event awaited him.
Then along came Jochen, serious, quaint, quirky and very intense. Achim was also intense but in a coiled spring kind of way. Jochen is intense in a very serious way. By the time he was 6 months old I was convinced that I had overworked him and burned him out. I stressed over that until I came to understand that Jochen is quite simply quietly intense. When he is lounging around at home he looks bored and lugubrious.
When he gets bored with only going for long walks (6 - 9 km), he sighs and hangs his head and I have to tell myself not to fall for that line for when it is his turn to work on the rubble pile, he yodels and can hardly wait to be released, and..... he yodels when another dog is working. He charges at great speed, floating on the rubble pile as if it were a highway. So when he turns on his sad look, I just have to remind myself that it is his style and there is nothing I can or should do about it.
When I place him in a down position and take his Kong for a long and torturous walk for him to 'go find' when I return, he always barks with delight when I release him to search. These signs keep me sane.
Our week is made up of a combination of walking, bicycle riding, tracking, searching for articles, USAR agility at our training site and search exercises searching for people buried in our rubble pile.
In my next post I will write some extracts from that training diary.