Being a hider for our K9 teams is a HUGE help. Our dogs need "strangers" to search for, or they get kinda lazy and only want to find us.
Up for helping us out for a day? Read all our info for hiders, and see if it sounds like fun. Then just email firstname.lastname@example.org with a pic of your vaccination card, and we'll start figuring out how you can come make the fuzzy muzzles work a little harder!
At this time, we are requiring ALL our hiders/subjects to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19, and to have completed the 14 day waiting period after the second shot. This is for everyone’s protection, and we appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
Keep in mind, we are asking you to hide in woods away from civilization, alone, in various types of weather. This takes a bit of thought on both our parts.
Here are some things that will make the experience safer and more comfortable for you:
Bring your cell phone and make sure it is fully charged. We will provide a radio, but it is al- ways a good safety measure to have a backup method of communication. We may or may not have cell phone coverage. The radio may or may not work. Best to keep all options available!
There will be parking in a gravel or dirt parking lot, or along a road. Please leave shaded areas free for dog vehicles.
Wear hiking boots, and good socks (wool are the bees knees). Avoid synthetics and cotton!
Wear LONG pants that you can move in. No capris, clamdiggers, or shorts - the underbrush will tear you up if you don’t have long pants on.
Wear muted colors...black, dark brown, dark green. No bright colors please.
Long sleeves work best, again because of thorns and underbrush. You’ll appreciate the protection.
Treat yourself for ticks beforehand, and check thoroughly after the adventure.
Bring and use sunscreen, even in winter!
Dress in layers that you can take off or put on as temperatures change. Even in the deepest summer, the temps can go down when the sun dips.
A rain poncho is a good idea - you can sit on it (the forest floor is damp by default) or use it if it starts to rain. If you do not have a rain poncho, we suggest a large trash bag with a head hole cut along bottom seam.
Bring plenty of water, and some snacks (especially if you have issues with blood sugar levels). YES, EVEN IN WINTER...you still need to hydrate when the temps are low.
There are no bathrooms - you may want to bring some toilet paper in case you need to relieve yourself in the woods. If you do “go” in the woods, bury the paper or, um, solids...there will be plenty of loose soil and leaves around to cover it all up. It is OK to have to relieve yourself while you are hiding. It can take us a few hours to find you, and we don’t expect you to sit there with your legs crossed. Just stay as close as you can to your hiding spot.
If you have allergies or other medical conditions, bring your meds/epipen/etc with you, and make us aware where we can find the necessary item and under what conditions it should be administered.
You may want a folding chair for time spent in base.
If you want to bring more for your time hiding for us, feel free, but remember you’ve got to carry all your items in and out of the woods - through underbrush, up hills, in the rain or heat. So pack light.
Leave no evidence behind that you were ever in the woods. Collect any food wrappers, drinks containers, etc and haul them all out with you.
The ground you are sitting on will steal heat from your body. It may also begin to rain, or snow. You may be up against rock, which also steals heat. If you are sitting in these conditions for hours, things can get pretty uncomfortable. Even in summer, getting soaked with rain while you are sitting up against a rock can make you awfully cold. Please ask for advice before setting out to your spot if you are unfamiliar with layering and adjusting for conditions.
You may end up sitting at base for a bit before your part begins. Or we may ask to send you out more than once. All in all, expect a lot of sitting, with some serious hiking in between.
Here’s what you can expect:
We’ll take you to a point in the woods, and ask you to stay exactly there until we find you. The hike in to your spot may include hills, underbrush, climbing over logs or under obstructions. Basecamp will know exactly where you are, we won’t lose you - but the handler will NOT know anything about your position except a search area of typically 20-60 acres.
We’ll give you a radio, and bring your charged phone as well - sometimes radio comms don’t work well. Sometimes none of the comms work. Don’t worry. We know where you are.
If we ask you something by radio or phone, answer ONLY WHAT WE ASKED - usually a yes or no. Don’t offer ANY other information, as you can easily “give away” your location and the exercise is defeated.
After you are “placed”, the handler back at basecamp will wait about 15 minutes for your scent to travel across the area. We are often running several tasks at the same time, so it may take longer for the team to start. It can take some time to find you once the dog team does start the task. Be prepared to sit in your location for four hours or more, though at the time of the training the handler should be able to give you a more accurate estimate for the time that task will take.
You will hear the dog’s bell...the dog may or may not go past you, come right back, come back later, etc. When you hear the bell, cover yourself with the cammo (if we’ve given you some). Do not call out to the dog.
When the dog finds you the first time, DO NOTHING. The dog may whimper, kiss you, jump on you, lay on you, all kinds of drama. Wait for them to leave you and then stay put; it’s not over yet.
The handler will have given you instructions before you left basecamp on whether or not to tell them on the radio that the dog has made a find. Again, you shouldn’t tell the handler any- thing, or give any clue or more information about where you are or what the dog has done than specifically what the handler asks you. MOST OF THE TIME we don’t want you to tell us anything until the search problem is over, because in a real search the lost person may not be able to give us such help.
The dog will then run back to the handler, let them know you are found, and lead the handler to you. At this point, we ask you to take part in the “party” - dog gets tons of praise, gets to play with toy, etc.
If you are willing, we may hide you more than once. Our whole training session can last up to 8 hours, but you are not expected to stay for the entire thing. We get it. Not everyone likes to tramp around all day or into the night. We appreciate any time you give us; just let us know when we start the training, or better yet ahead of time, if you have time constraints so we can plan around them.
Again, note you may be sitting in one place in the woods for up to FOUR HOURS. Think about that carefully. It is easy to become spooked out there, or to feel like you really are lost and we are never going to find you. Especially if your phone and or radio aren’t working. WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. We will come and get you. But that situation can be a little difficult for folks, and there’s no harm in deciding you just aren’t comfortable with such conditions.
You may have noticed we repeated a few things above. Yup. We did.
In this era of COVID, we won’t give you a hug for your help, but know we are very grateful for being a “subject” for us. Our dogs need your help, and anyone who helps our dogs learn and maintain their skills is a great help to us as well.