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Fire chief to train dog, himself in search and rescue tactics

JAMESTOWN, N.D.--When Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther picked up Chloe, an 8-week-old female bloodhound, in Fargo, he wasn't thinking too much about the return trip to Jamestown.

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JAMESTOWN, N.D.-When Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther picked up Chloe, an 8-week-old female bloodhound, in Fargo, he wasn't thinking too much about the return trip to Jamestown.

"Try driving with a 20-pound dog on your lap," he said, chuckling at the thought.

Reuther went to Fargo Aug. 21 to meet with Erin and Ryan Solberg, owners of Cedar Ridge Hounds where they raise pure-bred bloodhounds in northern Minnesota. The couple decided to give Reuther the dog because of how he intends to use Chloe-as a search-and-rescue dog.

Reuther said he had talked with Erin Solberg off and on for about eight or nine months about bloodhounds, and he mentioned how he wanted to use Chloe.

"It's an amazing cause (training Chloe to become a search-and-rescue dog), and he (Reuther) seems so gung-ho," Erin Solberg said.

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Solberg said a puppy like Chloe would normally cost around $500, and she would be more if she were to certify Chloe as a pure-bred bloodhound. She said two of the dogs from their farm had been sold to other people who have either trained the dogs in search and rescue or are in the process of doing so.

The idea

Reuther said he got the idea to train a bloodhound in search and rescue after seeing what a bloodhound that has received proper training can do at a search-and-rescue scene. In December 2011, he said he watched a bloodhound, which was owned and trained by Earle "Bud" Myers with the Valley Water Rescue Team, search along holes drilled in the ice to help locate the body of Darrin Ackerman, a 49-year-old Jamestown man who was last seen ice fishing on the reservoir. When the bloodhound named Barnaby indicated on the scent of Ackerman on one of the holes, the rescue team used a remote-operated vehicle with a camera attached and located Ackerman.

Reuther said he started exploring the idea of getting his own bloodhound and getting the dog and himself trained in search and rescue after that day. When he saw a similar experience with a different bloodhound earlier this year in the West Fargo, N.D., area and discussed the idea with Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger and Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser, he decided training a bloodhound for search and rescue was something he wanted to do.

Reuther also talked with his veterinarian, Dr. Dawn Entzminger, to make sure she was willing to provide around-the-clock medical attention to Chloe in case she is injured at a search-and-rescue scene.

Training

Reuther said he is doing the training with Chloe and himself with no cost to the city of Jamestown or the Jamestown Fire Department. He said he will pay for any training that he or Chloe takes.

Currently Reuther and Chloe are getting to know each other. He said he has started some basic training with Chloe-basically playing hide and seek.

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"I'll have someone hold her, then I will walk away, then have her come to me," he said. "Once we have that down, I'll hide behind something and see if she can find me."

Myers, a retired state's attorney who worked in Grand Forks, Richland and Cass counties, said bloodhounds are trained to be scent-specific searchers.

"We train them so they are only searching for one person, so they can go into a crowd and eliminate everyone in that crowd except for the one scent for which they are looking," he said.

Reuther said Myers will be helping him train Chloe.

Both men said the biggest challenge in training a dog in search and rescue is building the relationship between the dog and the handler.

"They have to be able to read each other, to know what each little sign means, to know each other's mood," Myers said.

Reuther said he hopes to have he and Chloe ready for search-and-rescue work in about a year, maybe more, depending on how he and the dog learn the training.

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN FIRE DEPARTMENT
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