Discover more from Three Retrievers Newsletter
Chapters 2, 3, and 4
Whether to use a dog, physical requirements, safety.
Chapter 2, Using a search dog or not.
Maybe this seems like a stupid question. Of course you should use a dog! Dogs are great, and my dog Kelsy was the main reason I started doing this work. However, I recognize that not everyone is going to have access to a trainable dog. Maybe you already have three great dogs and none of them has the right stuff to become a great search dog. If you wanted to conduct lost pet investigations without the assistance of a search dog, there is still a great deal of help you could offer the owner of a missing pet. Also, if you just wanted to do this part time or as a side job, maybe you wouldn’t have the volume of cases to justify the six to eighteen months of training necessary for a search dog. Many people could benefit from the knowledge in this book even if they don’t have the time to work a search dog. I would certainly recommend this training for shelter staff or volunteers for nonprofit rescues. An issue I see with large nonprofit rescues is that a small percentage of their dogs go missing from fosters and adopters. Because these large rescues handle hundreds or thousands of dogs every year, that small percentage can mean a dozen dogs a year going missing. Every large nonprofit rescue should have someone on staff or as a volunteer who understands the material offered in this course, with or without the help of a search dog. Even if you don’t train a search dog right now, you might someday. Also, working a search dog requires a certain amount of physical ability, and my work with dogs has taken me through rugged terrain, remote wilderness, and neighborhoods with high crime rates. Not everyone is able to work in all these environments, but anyone can help lost pets with a phone and a computer.
If you choose to do this work without the aid of a search dog, you can still help people by understanding the behavior of lost pets, and also the behavior of pet owners, good samaritans, and potential criminals who might interfere. Without using a search dog, there are many techniques people could be using to improve their chances of finding their lost pets. Even though I have successful, effective search dogs, there are many occasions when I don’t recommend using them. More often than not, I recommend techniques and strategies that don’t involve the search dog. There is a lot of bad advice floating around out there, and you could do a world of good just steering pet owners away from the nonsense. Also, if you got yourself a 48 F Tru Catch humane trap, and a microchip scanner, you could save a stray dog every day, if you were of a mind to.
If you choose to work with a search dog, I’m very glad. My bond with my search dogs is literally the best thing in my life, and I hope that many people can have the experience of working with a partner who is your best friend, who you would trust with your life (but not your lunch). Also, the search dog adds a dimension of discovery that isn’t available with the other techniques. My dogs have found hundreds of dogs and cats that would not have been discovered by other means. A little dog disappeared at two in the morning, and Valentino found his remains half a mile away in the forest, tucked between two fences, in a place no one would have looked in a million years. Without the search dog, the owners never would have known what happened to their dog, even if they used all of the other recommended techniques.
Working with a search dog is not always easy. Tino knocks me down sometimes. He pulls so hard that it hurts my hands. He has so much enthusiasm for the job of searching that he can be difficult to control. Fozzie, the 13 pound poodle, is quite pleasant to work with, but sometimes he goes about things a bit too casually. Also, he does not do well with brambles and thorns, and it seems like there are always brambles, somewhere in the search area. Kelsy was a great search dog, but there were certain situations where she could cause trouble, like if a certain type of dog ran up to us off-leash. Search dogs can also be somewhat expensive, potentially. In the past, I have spent at least $30,000 on cancer treatments for my dogs. I have insurance now, but that is a cost to consider. If you end up with dogs like mine, you can say goodbye to ever having nice things. Well, actually, I do have nice things: dogs. Other than that, though....
If you ask my advice, I say you should definitely work with a dog if you can. If you can’t work with a dog, don’t let that stop you from helping lost pets. Even if you choose to do this work without a dog, it would help you to know what a search dog can and can’t do, so you can give pet owners the best advice. Please read about how search dogs work in order to help you decide if you want to work with one or not. Also, if you don’t use a dog now, you will always have the option of adding a search dog to your crew.
To help lost pets with the knowledge in this book, there is no minimum physical requirement. You can help people from behind a keyboard. If you are going to be working a search dog, it would be ideal if you were athletic, strong, and highly trained in certain skills. I used to be somewhat athletic and strong, but I am not so athletic these days. I get by just fine, although I wish I could scale fences with ease. On an average search with Tino or Mu, I will be walking or running for 3 to 5 hours. It is very common to search in steep ravines with unstable slopes, thick brambles with sharp thorns, logs to go over and under, and streams to cross. When a Rottweiler was running toward us one time, I picked up 80-pound Kelsy to keep the two dogs from fighting. I have hiked 8 miles up into the mountains with Tino to do a search. Ideally, I should be able to carry him out of the woods. Because he weighs 110 pounds, it would have been quite difficult for me to carry him for 8 miles on a rugged trail. I am fit enough for the job, but ideally I should be more fit.
If I were to have the ideal fitness for this job, I should be able to meet the law enforcement academy minimum requirements, for my age group. This involves running a quarter mile in a given time, adjusted for age, pushups, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. Currently, I don’t think I would quite be able to pass that test. In addition to those fitness requirements, I often wish I had the strength, and, mainly, the flexibility, to get my 110-pound dog over a five foot fence and then get myself over the fence. When Tino and I were on a search one time, he went through a gap between two fences, but then he decided he couldn’t make it back through. Obviously, since he made it through one way, he ought to be able to come back. I explained this to him, but he didn’t agree. I wanted to just climb over the five foot fence, but I couldn’t do it without any footholds. We were stuck like that for about five minutes before Tino finally squeezed himself back to my side. I would really like the ability to climb any fence I encountered.
Another skill I’ve needed is to crawl through a crawl space where I had to slither along like a snake for about 40 feet, without being able to get up on my hands and knees. That wasn’t fun. One physical attribute I do have that comes in handy quite often is that because I’m 6’3”, I can reach over most gates and unlatch the fence. The average person taking this course won’t be 6’3” or taller, so this may be an inconvenience for you. Kelsy and I got lost in the woods one time. That’s not easy to do in the era of smartphones with GPS and maps, but it will happen to you eventually. We got to an area without cell coverage, and I didn’t have my phone updated with all the maps to be available offline. I knew where we wanted to go, generally, even without a map, but the terrain and vegetation kept blocking us. It took a long time to get back to cell coverage and get back to our car. Ideally, someone doing this job would have the confidence that they could be lost in the wilderness for a day or two and adequately take care of themselves and their dog.
Another aspect of the job is hauling equipment. I use a Tru Catch 48 F trap all the time. Because it folds up, I can carry it with one hand while holding stuff in the other hand. It weighs 42 pounds. Most of the volunteers I have worked with have been women, and much smaller than me, and hauling around a 42 pound trap has not been easy for them. You can get a wheel set to make it easier. In addition to the trap being heavy, it is much heavier when you have a dog in it. I have been able to get 80 pound dogs into the back of my car while inside the trap, although it wasn’t easy. Wheels are a definite help. If you are a smaller person, I mean smaller than me, which is most people, you are probably going to need help with the heavy stuff sometimes. If my work was an OSHA workplace, they probably wouldn’t recommend that I lift some of the heavy things I lift. You can get help with the heavy stuff, but it’s just more convenient if you can haul stuff yourself.
I am not a woman, so I don’t have some of the safety concerns a woman might have while doing this work. If my wife or my daughter were going out alone with the owner of a lost pet, into remote areas, I would have concerns that I don’t even think about for myself. I know plenty of women who would feel confident going out into these situations, but it’s something to consider.
In general, working a scent trailing dog can be more physically demanding than working a cat-detection dog. Kelsy and I followed one scent trail into a remote ravine, in the dark, in heavy rain. The scent trail led down a dry creek bed that was crossed with fallen trees about every ten feet. It was easy for Kelsy to get through, but I was exhausted after four miles of climbing over and under logs. Tino pulls really hard sometimes, and he really wears me out. Working with Mu is usually slower paced. Cat searches take places in yards more, although sometimes we have done searches in remote wilderness and rugged terrain.
As for physical requirements of the dog, if you are just starting to train a dog, younger is better. Kelsy, my 75 pound black Lab, was ideal, physically. She could go anywhere and do anything, and she didn’t beat me up too bad. Mu is of course a great dog, but his coat is very thin, and he is reluctant to go through blackberries and nettles, for obvious reasons. Tino is a fantastic search dog except that his coat is too thick. He overheats easily, and we have to search in the coolest weather, and start work at 4 in the morning during the summer. Also, Tino’s size and energy really wear me out sometimes. If I weren’t 230 pounds, I would have trouble staying on my feet with him. He does knock me down sometimes. Fozzie is a wonderful dog, who has proven himself capable of finding lost dogs. I wouldn’t recommend a 14 pound poodle if you were thinking of adopting a dog for search work. I have worked with beagles and pit mixes and border collies, and blood hounds. A brachiocephalic breed such as a pug or an English bulldog should definitely not be used for this work because their shortened noses require them to pant more and reduce scenting efficiency. There is at least one person who uses a cat as a search dog. I’m highly skeptical of this, and definitely wouldn’t recommend it, for a number of reasons, even if it was possible. If I could choose any sort of dog to do this work, my ideal choice would be a black Lab. Besides being a wonderful, sweet companion, she had the physical traits to meet a variety of environments. I’m probably biased, though.
In 14 years of searching, I haven’t suffered any serious physical injury. Although I wish I was more physically fit and able, I have managed to get by just fine. My less-than-ideal fitness hasn’t prevented us from continuing any searches. Certainly, a higher level of fitness would be helpful.
If you are working with a search dog, your main safety considerations have to be focused on your dog. Please don’t work a search dog if his safety is not your number one priority. Of course, part of keeping your dog safe is keeping yourself safe so that you can be there for him.
The hazards we have faced in 11 years of searching:
I was lifting Kelsy over a fence, and as I was setting her down, her foot caught on a vine. She tore her ACL, $2500 surgery. The good part was that it turned out her knee had been hurting her a long time, and she acted much younger after the surgery.
Off-leash dogs will run up at you. The outcome depends on the attitude of the approaching dog, your dog’s personality, and your actions. When a Rottweiler ran up to Kelsy and me, I lifted her up to chest height so that Kelsy wouldn’t start a fight. On a search in a rural area, Kelsy and I were in the middle of a very large field when two off-leash Golden Retrievers spotted us from half a mile away. They started running toward us to check us out. There was no where for us to go, and I couldn’t run fast enough to outpace the dogs. I just waited as they approached, and I talked to Kelsy as calmly and sweetly as I could, telling her everything was fine and the nice doggies were just coming to say hello. When they ran up on us, fortunately they were friendly and happy, and Kelsy did not start an argument. Sometimes she would start trouble, just by being bossy and barking at another dog. She would never have tried to hurt a dog or a person. Kelsy was in the habit of telling Mu to knock it of, like a big sister would scold a little brother. This time, fortunately, I managed to use calming signals on my own dog to keep her from barking at the wrong moment, and I avoided any trouble. The Goldens finished checking us out and they ran off. I was prepared to defend Kelsy if I needed to, but I was deliberately calm and relaxed to try to defuse the situation.
Komu has been stung by yellow jackets hundreds of times. There is a two week period in the middle of October when I try not to take cat search cases. This is the time when yellow jackets are going into the ground for the winter. The worker drones are going to die soon. If you get too close to one of their ground nests, or if you accidentally step on one, the yellow jacket drones go kamikaze and start attacking you. They release a pheromone that attracts the others to attack you as well. I have been stung a few times, but I’m usually wearing a jacket that shields me from most of the bites. The yellow jackets cling to Mu’s fur and bite him repeatedly. We have to run away, and then I roll Mu onto the ground and use the back edge of my knife to fling the yellow jackets off of him. Sometimes we have had to get up and run off several times before I get the yellow jackets off and they finally gave up chasing us. Now, I watch for yellow jackets in places where they might like to nest, usually in a rockery or a slight slope beside a trail or a driveway. When the yellow jackets approach the opening of the nest, they zig zag back and forth in a particular pattern that catches my eye. I have become fairly adept at spotting these nests and avoiding them. A few searches, we had to stop because Mu just didn’t want to work any more, understandably. He has a thin coat. Also, he is a sweet, tender little baby, and he doesn’t understand why the bad yellow jackets keep biting him. A search dog has to enjoy the search work. You can’t force a dog to search. The yellow jackets probably weren’t ever a significant health threat to Mu, but we try to avoid them as much as possible. As far as I know, my search dogs have not been stung by any other bees. One of my other dogs, Tess, was stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. Half her face was swollen, and she received antihistamines.
Kelsy got stuck in deep mud, and it was a real challenge to get her out. When Tino and I searched for Puppy, he was really stuck in deep mud. It was a hazard to Tino and me, and I worked carefully to avoid the deep mud. There were places where it looked like regular dirt, but when you stepped on it, you just kept sinking. I lost both my shoes and had to lay branches across the mud and reach in with my hand to wrestle my shoes out.
Fozzie and I were stuck in a thicket of blackberries for two hours. I couldn’t see to the other side, so I thought we would just cut our way through a narrow band of brambles and continue the search. It turned out to be about an acre of blackberries on a muddy slope, and I had to cut our way with shears every step of the way. Had I been smart about it, I probably could have looked at the satellite photo on Google maps and seen that it was a big, wide patch of brambles, and just opted not to go in.
On a particular search with Tino, four different property owners came out with guns. They didn’t aim them at us, but they were somewhat menacing. If I ever felt that the presence of guns was a real danger to my dogs, I would immediately suspend the search. In those cases where guns were present, it seemed to me that people came out of their homes looking to see if we were criminals of some sort. When people learn that you are searching for a lost cat or a lost dog, almost everyone is happy to help. I make sure that the dog and I are clearly marked, too, just to avoid any misunderstandings. I find it is helpful to have a business card handy so people can check me out. They can google my web page right away and see that I am legitimate. Of course, I make sure to tell them I am reaching for my business card, and do it slowly, in full view of them, so they don’t think I’m reaching for a gun. I try to make sure I am not trespassing, and that we always have permission to be anywhere we are going.
One time, on a search in a nice neighborhood in Bellevue, Mu and I searched a yard where we were told we had permission. Shortly after, a police officer showed up because the property owner had called, saying we were trespassing and suspicious. It says, in giant letters, on the back of my jacket: LOST PET RESCUE. How someone could not know what we are doing, I don’t know. Sometimes, when we are given permission, not everyone in the house is informed, and some people may think we trespassing without permission due to a miscommunication. When the police arrived, I made sure to keep my body between the police officer and Mu at all times. I turned so that the officer could read the back of my jacket, and then turned back so she could see my hands at all times. I answered all her questions and told her that we were invited to be there. I pointed to the many Lost Cat fliers and told her she could contact the cat’s owner. I gave her my business card. I also told her my drivers license number, which I have memorized, and she wrote it down. She asked us to stay put on the sidewalk for a while. She talked to someone on her radio. After a few minutes, she told us to carry on and she hoped we would find the cat.
A potential threat we have faced on several searches is that we were told we had permission to search a property, but the homeowner did not agree that permission was given. Property owners can get very upset, even though we obviously have no criminal intent. There have been a few cases where upset property owners were vary hostile to me, threatening to shoot me or sue me. I am less concerned about an irate property owner posing a threat to me than I am about there being a threat to my dog. If there is every any disagreement or misunderstanding, I just get off their property as fast as I can, being sure to keep my body between the irate property owner and my dog.
Kelsy and I were lost in the woods for about six hours. I never doubted we could get back, but we kept running into obstacles. No cell signal for mapping updates. In general, you should have a mental map of the larger area before you start a search. Also, in general, if you are lost, you will want to go downhill until you hit a stream or river, and then follow that to a road. Almost all major roads and freeways, at least in Washington, are near creeks and rivers, for several reasons. First, that’s where people first settled, where there were waterways for navigation and for timber harvesting. Second, water follows the path of least resistance, which is also usually the cheapest and easiest place to build a road. Our major roads, especially through the wilderness, tend to follow river valleys, as opposed to just plowing through mountains. I tend to think in maps. I remember places we have done searches even when I can’t remember which cat or dog we were looking for. For the most part, I usually always know which way is north, but on a cloudy day in the woods, when my attention is focused on the ground, looking for evidence, I can sometimes lose track of which way is north. If you are not as comfortable with maps and terrain, these are skills you can and should work on developing. Also, on every search I do, I record a GPS track of where we went. Even if I lose connection with the cell tower, the GPS will have contact with enough satellites. As long as you have sufficient battery for your phone, you should be able to use your GPS track to find your way back to the car, even if you lose cell reception. When you are doing a search in a wilderness area, be sure to have a backup battery. They make hand-crank power generators so you can charge your phone forever, even after a zombie apocalypse. When going on a search into a mountainous or wilderness area, be sure to carry the ten essentials in your backpack. From REI:
Updated Ten Essential Systems
Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
Headlamp: plus extra batteries
Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)
Knife: plus a gear repair kit
Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove
Shelter: carried at all times (can be a light emergency bivy)
Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation
Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation
Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation
Keeping in mind that you will be wanting to carry enough food and water for your dog as well. An additional item for your backpack in a wilderness search would be a sling to help you carry your dog back to the car if he is injured. I have done searches where it would have been very difficult to carry my 110 pound Gerberian Shepsky 5 miles back to the car. I need to get in better physical condition so that I am able to do that.
After I wrote the above advice about having a sling to carry your dog out, I went on a search with Tino into a deep valley without cell coverage. While we were never lost, it was very steep and rough terrain. We never got close to where I think the dog fell. It took five hours to get myself out of that valley, going up the steep slopes. By the time we got back to cell coverage, I was several hours overdue in communicating with people. I just barely had the strength and energy to get myself out of the valley. If Tino had been injured and couldn’t walk, I would not have been able to carry him up that slope. In hindsight, I don’t think we should have gone into that valley. I put Tino at risk when I should have known better. It turned out okay, but it could have ended badly. If I were going to attempt something like that in the future, I would bring a satellite communicator like a Garmin inReach, to call for help if one of us was injured. Sometimes, we want to help, and we talk ourselves into taking on too much. The first rule of rescue is to not end up needing rescue yourself.
Kelsy and I were trying to search along a highway, and the scent trail kept going in the middle of the road. Most cars were speeding, and very reluctant to slow down or give us space. Kelsy would just walk right in front of a car if I didn’t stop her, assuming all cars would stop for her. It was difficult to work that section of rural highway, but we just kept at it, stopping and starting, until the scent went off the road again. We have been asked to search on freeways and I have declined. Tino tracked Duke up a freeway off-ramp in Issaquah. I was okay with going up the shoulder of the off-ramp, but we couldn’t continue onto the freeway. Instead, we drove up and down the freeway and spotted Duke’s remains. You should always be aware of traffic, even on the quietest streets. Those electric cars can sneak up on you.
Foxtails. This grass has seeds with barbs. The sharp end of the seed can poke into a dog’s toes, nose, or ears. It is sharp enough to penetrate the skin. Once it goes in a certain distance, it has barbs that only allow it to go one way, deeper. After a certain point, it would need to be surgically removed.
Giardia and leptospirosis can be an issue. Try to always bring water for your dog. Tino has a habit of sticking his tongue into every mud puddle or stream that he encounters. It's a challenge to keep him from drinking contaminated water. Your dog can get a vaccine for leptospirosis, and probably should.
“Hot car” fanatics can be a danger. More than a few times, when I have had multiple dogs with me on a search, I have left a dog or two in the car while working the one dog. I was always aware of the temperature and sun. A few times, I’ve returned to the car to find people about to break in, to “rescue” my dogs, who were not too hot, or in any danger. If someone had broken the glass, it could have ended in disaster. Having your dogs actually overheat in a car probably shouldn’t be much of a risk for you because there is no point in working your search dogs in hot weather. Incidentally, this is how you can spot the fraudulent search dog handlers. If they are searching for lost cats and dogs when the temperatures are over 70 degrees, they aren’t really searching. They are just running their dogs around for show.
Large predators are something to take into consideration. I’ve seen bear tracks while working Tino. One time with Tino, in the middle of a large forest, I found cougar scat that was very fresh. I looked around up in the trees and kept Tino close to me. Probably, large predators are a very low risks for 99% of searches. I do recommend bear spray, though.
Ticks. Be sure to check your dog after every search, even in suburban settings. Don't pull a tick straight out. Use a tick removal tool and slowly ease it out with a twisting motion. If you live in a part of the country that has tick-borne illnesses, be sure to talk to your vet.
Heat. It shouldn’t really be a problem because you shouldn’t be working your dog when it’s warm.
Pesticides. I don’t know how much of a danger this is. Kelsy died of cancer, and I have no way of knowing if she would have anyway, or if her career as a search dog exposed her to toxic chemicals. I don’t really have any suggestions on how to address this potential health threat, but it’s something you should be aware of.
Falls from heights. Cliffs in the woods can seem to appear out of nowhere. Even in urban settings. You should have access to an app on your phone that will show you topographical maps, and you should be familiar with reading them. You should always be looking at topographical maps anyway, from the standpoint of how to approach the search and where the lost pet might have gone. Slopes have a significant impact on the flow of scent, so you should always be aware of the terrain.
Rat poison. You should know what rat poison can look like. It is usually green, and looks like plastic. When used properly, it is supposed to be in a container where only a rat could get at it. On one search, a property owner had just thrown out blocks of rat poison on the ground. Mu was sniffing at something, but I couldn’t see the ground because it was on the far side of the low deck from my perspective. I got around to look right away, and I saw that it was rat poison. I pulled Mu away quickly. The block of rat poison had a bite out of it, and I didn’t know if Mu had taken a bite, or if it was already like that when Mu went to smell it. I had to stop the search, lose the $300 search fee, and take Mu directly to the vet to be treated for rat poison, for $500, because I didn’t know if he had eaten it or not. I think he probably hadn’t eaten any, but I couldn’t take the risk. Rat poison can cause irreversible damage or death.
Fast rivers. Barbed wire. Fentanyl. Llamas. A llama was stalking Mu and me one time, and I kept well away from her.
In 14 years of searching, in a wide variety of settings, I have never been injured more than a small cut or sore knees or sunburn. No client who came along on the search ever was injured. (Actually, one client was injured by Mu, accidentally, and needed a few stitches.) The only injuries to my dogs have been bee stings and a torn ACL. In part, this is because I have been cautious and careful. In part, the work just isn’t too dangerous, if you pay attention. It’s certainly less dangerous than a desk job that would require you to sit for long hours. One main reason that my dogs have not been hurt is that they mean the world to me. Not just because I need them to do my work, but because I love them like crazy. If I ever thought a situation was moderately dangerous, I would not proceed. One way you could look at it, if you needed such a motivation, is that your dog is a critical, irreplaceable tool that you need for your work. In eight years of work, Mu has earned about $300,000 in search fees over his career. Of course I would always protect him because I love him like family, regardless of his earning power. But if you were just look at the business aspect of it, protecting your dog is the smartest thing to do, financially.
In terms of protecting your dogs, you should definitely have insurance for them. Vet bills can really add up. For Porter, Tess, and Kelsy, I spent at least $30,000 on cancer treatments. My dogs have insurance now, and I most definitely recommend it for your search dog.
I would say the biggest threat we face on any search is traffic. Getting to and from the search is more dangerous than the search, in most cases. Ideally, you should keep your dog in a travel kennel while driving, for safety.
I'm 6’3”, 230 pounds. I used to run marathons back when I had time to. My 110-pound German Shepherd tries to kill me every day. I'm not at all frightened of getting stuck in a ravine or going down a dark trail in the night or being charged by a dog. I do get nervous about cougars. Public speaking scares me much more. Other people aren't always going to be comfortable going places I would, understandably. Most of the people who pursue lost pet rescue are female, for reasons unknown to me. If I was a 115 pound female, well, Tino probably would've killed me years ago. But I'm sure I would've had some hesitation about diving into many of the situations that we've been in. I can't really advise you on how you should manage the risks, but I hope you will find ways to do the work and still feel safe. If the past 12 years experience in the animal welfare field are any indication, then probably the majority of the students of this course will be female. I hope that you will tell me what considerations and precautions you might take in situations that I would rush into without hesitation.
Certainly I hope you wouldn't take any job that would make you feel unsafe, but I also hope that you can find ways to feel comfortable in a broad range of circumstances without being too concerned about personal safety. I am aware that it's a potential issue for many of my students, and I don't currently have an answer for that. My goal is for you to do this work as safely as possible, and of course I would never want to hear that one of my students or her dog was injured or killed. I would be especially dismayed if I thought I could have given some advice that would have prevented it. Unfortunately, because I have been fortunate enough to not need to worry so much about personal safety, I'm not sure I'm qualified to advise you on the best strategies for your personal safety. I hope you will help me learn more.