Man Trailing Dogs
Craig's 1st real experience with Bloodhound man trailing was in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia USA. Craig was a student of the West Virginia Canine College and a part of the 600hr professional trainers course was a man trailing Bloodhound work overview running Bloodhounds in the Appalachian ranges. It was truely only a fairly basic course, but well and truely enough to inspire his desire to learn and succeed at this arduous and demanding type of dog training.
Once Craig returned to Australia he went hell out to acquire a hound to get started on his quest to producing a working man trailer. Craig had done quiet a lot of study on Bloodhound use in Australia and whilst several people had tried with very poor or extremely limited success except for Mr Douglas Mummery whom was a police officer with the Victoria police in the 50's and 60's he had forged a great reputation with mantrailing Bloodhounds operationally.
Whilst Craig never got to work with Douglas, he did seek out the guy whom was his mentor Mr Bill Tolhurst from Lockport USA. He had been credited with writing the training manual for national police bloodhound association and had successful search and rescue and police tracking operations in many states of the USA numbering up around the 5,ooo mark. Craig approached Bill and was lucky enough that he took Craig on as my mentor for both Bllodhounds and cadaver recovery dogs and all specialist scent work. Craig found his 1st hound and he was no bargain having been an accidental mating of brother and sister, and being taught to track deer for hunting which he turned out to be very persistent at wanting to trail animal rather than human.
Craig did learn a hell of a lot about the negative barriers to successfull mantrailing and that even with undying persistence some dogs are not ever going to be suited. Finding hounds that were from any even remotely working ability in Australia was an enormous task as we are geographically segregated from the world and our heavy quarantine laws at the time only magnified the problem. Not being able to quit on his desire Craig bought several dogs and pups most with limited potential and continued on his struggle to succeed.
Craig finally got a pup whom showed some working potential and proceeded to make some great steps forward and just as all was starting to look hopeful his young dog developed a growth problem which saw him drop down on his pasterns and be pronounced by vets as never to recover. Craig's mantrailing journey had already been so tough this seemed like the final blow for his dreams and he felt he had given his all.
At the time Craig and Tracey lived at Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast and he organised to be able to use wharf at the Pumicstone passage so he would take his young hound for 30 minute swims against the fast moving tides morning and night and for long soft sand walks on the beaches. After several months his dog was normal and strong as an ox, be carefull what you wish for was Craig's next lesson.
Craig resumed serious training again and he could run 10 to 15 kms pulling like a freight train. Tracey and the kids did not enjoy getting up before sun rise several mornings a week to run trails or pick him up after our long fitness runs, and putting a tired and slobbery hound in the back with the kids did nothing to help his cause but none the less this is the life of a mantrailing Bloodhound trainer if you are truly serious, there is no substitute for realistic and challenging training and it must be gruelling.
His hound was now working really well and he was a good honest trailer whom he was very proud of and was happy to show authorities as nothing like this had truly been available in Australia since Douglas Mummery retired, several police dog squads had tried but had no success, pronouncing Bloodhounds not to be as good as German shepherds. Craig organised several demonstrations with SES groups in both Qld and NSW and did great on the tests they set with great enthusiasm from all whom witnessed but unfortunately no calls when people were missing regardless of Craig's dozens of offers to help for free.
So in disgust he sold his mantrailing hound to the Fiji police and prisons dept and in the first couple of months he had done some great work even receiving a special award for trailing a bank robber for hours and locating him, Craig received a nice letter of thanks from them and regretted selling his hound due to poor response in Australia. After a couple more years of being houndless his desire had not diminished to be helpful to missing persons and their family's so he once again embarked on acquiring another Bloodhound puppy and Mr Phillip Bach had the best known bloodlines he could find in the country known as Windchase Bloodhounds. Phillip knew of Craig and his desire to have a great mantrailing Bloodhound and supplied him a puppy whom he named Hoover.
His training went normal lots of great success and equally as many challenges and problems but perseverance paid out in the long run and he was even better than the one Craig sold to Fiji. He used any person whom was willing to run trails for him and put so much precious time into him, his skills were truly world class and all he wanted was the chance to prove him. Craig's chance started to appear ever so slowly but at least this time slow is way better than NO.
Craig had a few local people call whom had lost their kids and found all of them as with this misadventures from home by children they were located less than a Klm from home and often in transit back to home or actually at home and saying they had never left. The 1st rule of children missing from home is a disciplined and systematic search of the entire home including sheds,vehicles, caravans and especially under beds and great hiding spots where kids go and fall asleep whilst worrying their loved ones.
Next came an official search for a young man whom came from a sheltered workshop and had a disability. The local Sargent in charge of the search invited me in to try to help, it had been terential rain for 2 days and the missing person had gone in dense bush and thick grassland about 2 meters high, unfortunately there was also small creeks in the area that had swollen due to the 100 millimetres of rain over the 2 days.
When Craig started Hoover from the place last scene he followed the flow of the land down to the bushland and he was strong and convincingly confident he was on our target. He had been briefed that our target may not be able to survive in the water and he was likely to be shy of stranger so would further hide rather than trying to gain attention. Craig was confident he had his trail and then got to the side of creek and could see he had been in the water but had managed to get back out. He continued on and kept contact with search control telling them to go out in front of me as I believed he was now ahead of me and in the thick grass.
This is exactly where he was and located very quickly and he was alive and well thankfully. He loved helicopters and had been watching them from the long thick grass without trying to get their attention. Craig received a nice letter of thanks from the organisation he was part of thanking me for finding him after 2 days of being lost. Craig's next major operation was across the border with a team of search and rescue people whom were looking for young male whom had been missing around the bush areas of Mullumbimby for over 2 weeks.
Searchers had been in the area for several days but no sign of him was found. Craig took the hound out and tracked all day finding some objects that were discarded by humans but were not successful in locating the male and to date we think he is still a missing person. A few more little jobs tracking kids and then Craig was contacted by the Tasmanian police search and rescue squad leader asking me to fly to Tasmania immediately and assist in the search for a young disabled boy called Gregory Robertson whom had gone missing from Orford 5 to 6 days earlier.
Craig's luck again the previous days had received torrential rain causing flooding. he was rushed to the airport and arrived late in the afternoon after attending to taking scent articles from Gregory's foot of his bed as he and his brother shared everything. Gregory went missing whilst out with his family in rural lands and quickly hundreds of searchers were deployed but no trace of him was found. Craig started his hound of Gregory's scent article and he went straight to a fence in the 1st 30 meters and in his briefing Craig was told that it was believed he was not capable of traversing fences.
Craig told his 2 support search and rescue cops he trusted his dog and they followed him. They trailed for hours in the cold and some flood waters and at about midnight they could go no further as it was too dangerous and they marked their finishing location. They resumed at 1st light and found footprints matching those Gregory had. Craig continued on until he hit the side of the sand spit river and his hound showed him the signs we had located Gregory but he was submerged in the river. At this point they had trailed for many hours and at times in flood waters, they had covered over 5 kilometres during this time and until then it was believed Gregory had in fact gone up to the mountains rather than down towards the river and sea.
This was a good result as we were able to bring a conclusion to what had happened to Gregory but it was so devastating as you always imagine you will help by bringing people back home safely which was not to be. Gregory's body was found where Craig concluded his trail. Once again Craig received a nice letter from the Tasmanian police thanking me and Hoover for their expertise. A while later Craig was contacted by a family on the northern end of the Sunshine Coast whom had one of their family members go mysteriously missing nearby to their home.
The police had the dog squad in very early in the search and there were helicopters and lots of SES searching for several days when the search was called off. The family asked Craig to bring Hoover and assist, Craig said you get police approval and I would love to try. They did get police approval and Craig tracked Douglas from an area that was supposedly the last place he was confirmed seen. Craig tracked him for approximately 30 minutes and located his body only meters from where other searchers had covered, unfortunately with the passing of so much time again he was not found alive.
Once again the conflict of being very happy the hard work training your dog to trail has worked beautifully but the agony of finding the person too late hits and hurts for a very long time. These are a few of the main storeys of Craig's mantrailing and a few years later an author rang craig and told of writing a book and using his history as inspiration for the book, she was also a veterinarian, she wanted to dedicate the book to Craig and Hoover and he was once again shocked and thrilled at what bloodhounds could do in so many ways. The book is called Third time Lucky by Barbara Irving and came out in 1998.