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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday - A Symbol from Times Past

I participate in a dog photo group that has a daily prompt. Today's prompt was to photograph your dog with a "symbol". I chose a "bringsel" that my deceased dog, Acadia, used in search and rescue. It was a small soft object that hung from her collar. Here is Shyla wearing it.
Acadia was an air-scenting area-search dog. That meant that she worked off-leash, but under my direction, to search a large area by sniffing the air (as opposed to following a track on the ground). She'd sometimes be out of sight of me while she searched. If she found the victim, she reached down and grabbed the bringsel in her mouth. She ran back to me with it in her mouth, signaling me that she'd made a find. I'd say "show me", and she'd lead me back to the victim.

I was fairly new to dog training at that time, and it took months to teach Acadia to pick up the bringsel as it hung from her collar. Moreover, the teaching method used by the SAR organization was based on "corrections" rather than positive feedback for doing it right.

Just to show how much better positive training is for teaching new behaviors, Shyla learned to take her bringsel in about 5 minutes today. I did about 5 repetitions of holding the bringsel in my hand and asking Shyla to "take it". Then, I hung it from her collar and said "take it". Believe it or not, she did, on the very first try! She repeated it a bunch of times. That was fast!

And, she'd even run to me with the bringsel in her mouth.
Of course, Shyla knows nothing about how to be a search and rescue dog. She just knows how to grab a bringsel. Training a SAR dog takes a long time!

It was wonderful to see my current canine companion carrying the very same bringsel as Acadia used for searches years ago!!!

Shyla has truly "learned how to learn", with all the training we've done. She's such a joy, making me smile every single day, even today when I'm fighting off a migraine that started last night.
Tomorrow, I'll give you an update on R. Generally, he's doing okay but he'd love to rip off his bandage and get back to his normal life!


  1. Very special story - thanks.

  2. Such lovely photos! That's impressive that Shyla caught on so quickly--Barley does not like to grip things in her mouth, so I'm sure that's not a skill she'd embrace quickly, but it is fun to see them catch onto skills so quickly!

  3. That's so neat you had a SAR dog! I've always been fascinated by it. Maybe one day, whenever I get my border collie...

  4. Shyla! What a happy smile in that last picture!

  5. That's so awesome that Shyla learned how to pick up the bringsel so quickly! She looks so cute carrying it!

  6. You are one smart girl, Shyla, and we have no doubt that together - you and your mom can tackle anything and come out winners!

  7. Our dad and R are in the same boat, and we bet you anything R is a better patient. That Shayla is so smart. stella rose

  8. What a wonderful treasure that bringsel must be for you! We remember being a child and seeing dogs trained with the corrections methods and are so glad that we know how to do more positive training now. And our knowledge keeps growing all the time because of people like you. Thanks for sharing - we think Shyla would do just about anything for you:)

  9. Shyla is brilliant. I recently listened to a podcast that talked about cadaver dogs. I knew nothing about them, so found it interesting.

  10. We're glad R is doing well in his recovery. Still a long way to go, poor fella! Yes, dogs love to learn how to learn and solve problems!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  11. Oh Shyla, you make us so happy to watch you!


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