Clearwater County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Dog Team

My brother, Doug, is the team leader for Clearwater County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Dog Team. Here is an article about the team and some of their searches:

We have all seen a dog follow a scent trail. Most of the time it is another dog or something else they think smells good, but what is the drive and reward to go out at all hours in all types of weather as a member the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (CCSSAR) Dog Team.

“I sometimes hear people say, ‘Everyone wants to be a hero’,” says Doug Huffman. “I suppose that is especially true in the Search and Rescue business. I once heard a search dog instructor describe it this way, ‘everyone fantasizes about saving the lost child in the wilderness and carrying the child back to her mother’s arms in front of a cheering crowd, but that isn’t how it works in real life.’ I have been with CCSSAR since 1998 and I haven’t seen that fantasy search happen yet. More typically, we are out in the woods looking for a missing berry picker when we learn he was picked up hours before by a passerby. We get home at 5 a.m. exhausted from a long night out in the woods, when we could have been home asleep. We feel good about ourselves knowing we were involved in a team effort to help a missing individual and their family, but we usually don’t feel like a hero when it is over.”

A fair number of the search stories Doug has told me are for escaped prisoners, active criminals, or people presumed dead. These searches involving higher risks and/or unpleasant resolutions. Still, Doug has been doing this for nearly 20 years now so there is some sort of reward to it.


1 thought on “Clearwater County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Dog Team

  1. I’m surprised to hear about your brother’s experience being so disappointing on a dog team. I volunteered ground SAR for a couple years in the early 2000s and literally saw that fantasy rescue carried out as described several times within that short timespan by dog teams. It was not uncommon for us to search for hours or days with our dull human senses, only for the dogs to come out and find the victim within minutes. I recall one search on Mt. Hood vividly, where a 2 year old had wandered off from his parents at a campground. Several counties of teams had been out searching for hours. The dogs showed up and found him in 20 minutes and carried him back to his parents. I remember seeing the dog team member carrying him out to his parents, and the boy had one shoe missing. I was always amazed at how acute the dogs were, but also always a bit upset because their arrival usually meant our hours or days of hard work wasn’t necessary. I suppose I had this impression that their volunteer work was more rewarding because they were always so successful.

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