When Dan Gray lost his best friend on Christmas Eve 2005, he was devastated. His friend "Buddy" was 16-year-old wire fox terrier.
He thought he might never want another dog. But after a few months, Gray found himself going to humane shelter Web sites on a regular basis to see what new dogs were up for adoption.
In July 2006, he happened to notice a litter of bloodhound/beagle mix puppies just listed on the Humane Society International (HIS) Web site. One dog in particular caught his eye.
"His name was Urchin, but we call him Bogey," Gray recalled.
The next day Gray and his wife made a trip to the shelter. They didn't come home empty handed. Bogey came with them.
"We brought him home and everything went great. He was so easy to housebreak and he got along great with his two sisters, Heidi (a miniature poodle) and Tabatha (a black cat, also from HSI)," said Gray.
A short time later Gray was watching television when a program about search and rescue dogs came on.
"It showed how these dogs were used for finding missing persons, tracking down criminals and much more. It was amazing. I wondered if Bogey could do this. So, I did a little research and decided to give it a try," explained Gray.
"I bought a book on mantrailing and began working with Bogey. He really seemed to enjoy it and so did I. The book was good, but I knew it would be much better to get some hands on training from real experts," said Gray.
After doing a little surfing on the Internet, Gray found the American Mantrailing Academy (www.americanmantrailing.com) located in Greencastle.
This group provides free training twice a month to police, fire departments, search and rescue teams and AMA members.
Gray, who lives in Indianapolis, contacted them to see if it was OK to come out to one of the training sessions.
"I went and found their help to be just what I needed. It was a lot of fun too. I joined up and at a cost of only $30 a year, it was a real bargain. I continued going to their training sessions twice a month and practicing at home as well," said Gray.
Three weeks ago on Oct. 7, Bogey and Gray were certified as an Expert Mantrailing Team. They will be registered in a national database and will be available for search and rescue assistance whenever needed.
"He is a great companion and a great search and rescue partner. HSI rescued Bogey. Now, Bogey can rescue others," concluded Gray.