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In a SAR training event, Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts troops volunteered, posing as missing persons. They rubbed gauze over their face and hands, and placed the gauze in a bag to be used as a scent article for the dogs to track.

How dogs track scents differ, and search dogs fall broadly into two types of scent tracking. Some dogs work in “trailing,” or following scents of a person left on the ground. Other dogs work scents in the air.

After finding the subject during the training, the dogs are rewarded with their favorite game.

Weeko likes to fetch a yellow ball that her handler, Debbie Wickersham, keeps hidden until the subject is located.

Gruys’ German shepherd Diesel likes to play tug-o-war. Border collie Angus likes his handler Wyman Bontrager to throw a Frisbee.

To them, it’s a game,” handler Wendy Wampler said. “But there’s also a work ethic. They learn that it is truly a job, and when it’s time to go to work, it’s time to go to work.” 

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