Our team had a good week. We kept a search a “rescue” instead of “recovery.” Our dogs did what humans couldn’t. Thank God for that. Early Friday morning, two of our dogs and two of our handlers pushed law enforcement to extend the search for just one more run, one more time. And they brought an elderly man, suffering from dementia, to his family, to a warm and comfortable house in suburban Fort Wayne. The place he belongs was just a few thousand yards from where he would have probably died, had a handsome rescued German Shepherd named Tick not pushed through the brush, scampered down a ravine and found the man, in the dead, cold middle of the night, and told all the humans in the vicinity “he’s here!”
That’s what I wanted to write about yesterday and this morning. I thought about all the times I hide for Tick, how much fun I have with him, regardless of how tired I am, or how cold or hot it is, so that he believes that humans in random places in rubble piles or forests or buildings are the absolute bees knees. I wanted to write about how Tick’s handler is one helping to turn my Helo into a fierce, feisty little search-beast.
That’s what I was going to tell you.
But as we had our de-brief this morning, and the handlers talked about how they walked and walked, through deep mud and brambles, and how they felt when they got to him, I realized this is a different story.
SAR is about humanity. It’s about icons. It’s about the image of God, what makes us of infinite value. It’s about our souls. It’s about helping, bringing home, about restoration, and hope.
It’s about taking great care, covering the wounds, warming cold limbs, bundling up, and touching softly. It’s about removing your own coat, taking your own time, expending your own effort. It’s about asking a name, looking in eyes, holding a hand and making one safe.
It’s about Mercy. Grace. Hope. Love. And it might not even matter why a person does this, but in that moment, it is about that connection. It is about human. It is about the Image. It is about Love.
It is about all of us.
(But K9 SAR is also about puppies. Here’s Tick.)