Forwarded from a list I subscribe to - a story of how to create hope,
something we all need these days. Hope you enjoy it.
-------- Original Message --------
From: "Jack Brittain"
I ran across a remarkable story last night in the Chronicle of Higher
Education. CHE runs a story in every issue on offbeat research areas. In
the October 12 issue there is a story on Lawrence Myers, who is a
professor of veterinary medicine at Auburn University. His academic
specialty is detector dogs, who are used for drug sniffing, explosives
detection, search and rescue, and other types of smell-based detection.
There is a funny story about a dog trained for drug detection whose
lessons were not well structured and ended up being the world's best
nose for finding plastic bags. There is also another story in the
article that really struck me as poignant and illustrative.
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, search and rescue dogs
were used. The teams were searching for survivors, but ultimately they
were finding bodies for removal from the wreckage. After a few days
working the scene, all the dogs quit working. They just would not get on
task and were pulling away from the site. Dr. Myers was called in to try
to figure out what was wrong, if there was something hazardous the dogs
were reacting to, or any other reason they would no longer work. After
looking over the dogs and surveying the site, he decided the problem was
the dogs were depressed. They were trained to find living people, and
they knew they were not finding people alive, they were finding bodies.
His solution was to enlist some of the volunteers to hide in the
wreckage so the dogs could find some people alive. After going through
this exercise, the multiple dogs involved all went back to work and were
able to persist in the body search, although with more frequent breaks
and some sporadic opportunities to experience success.
In the most hellacious of circumstances, the dogs needed to find a spark
of life to keep going. And with nothing more than a moment of hope and
joy, they were able to do the job that had to be done.
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