Fresh snow on the ground and a gentle breeze did not stop a Missoula County Search and Rescue member Ellie Cosgrove and her K9 companions from testing their newly certified skills on Monday.
In fact, working through the elements further cemented their impressive achievements. After all, it was a day for Cosgrove and her K9 partner Remi, to show off their recent accomplishments.
“Remi and I got certified this past June in tracing and trailing and so what this means is we can find one person in a sea of many," Cosgrove said. "Tracking and trailing especially is probably the most difficult dog discipline out there, and then this past September we went and got certified as a cadaver team, so we can find dead people.”
Cosgrove and Remi have been at it since 2018, putting in a lot of time and energy to reach these milestones, "the satisfaction of getting two certifications in a year is rare, and amazing that we were able to do this," Cosgrove said.
The two were on display Monday, along with Missoula County’s other search and rescue dog Abby, at Blue Mountain. The K9 demonstration included Remi using her tracking skills, while Abby searched for tissue of human remains.
Cosgrove says that above all else, developing trust between her and Remi has been the most important factor to reaching these goals.
“So, the bond between K9 and handler is crucial. The K9 and the handler have to work together a lot and I need to be able to read her body language and everything she’s trying to tell me while she’s out there," Cosgrove explained. "And, every time I’m there, it’s fun. We’re working, we’re playing, because work is play for her.”
Cosgrove says she and Remi are ready to put their new skills to use, and they have an extensive coverage area to work with.
“Since we’re fully certified, we can go on any mission that we’re requested on. This past summer we did go and assist a neighboring county trying to look for a an who may or may not have committed suicide," Cosgrove stated.
Cosgrove is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician, Avalanche Rescue Technician, and Swift Water Rescue Technician.