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Ruby, Champlain Valley K-9 visits John Brown Farm

Shannon Bressett and Ruby of the Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Unit say hello to visitors at the John Brown Farm, where they were promoting the Hug-A-Tree program.

Shannon Bressett and Ruby of the Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Unit say hello to visitors at the John Brown Farm, where they were promoting the Hug-A-Tree program. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— If you get lost in the woods of the John Brown Farm, the best thing to do is find the closest tree and hug it.

That is what members of the Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Unit told those who visited the state park Saturday, June 8, as part of its Hug-A-Tree education program.

“I thought that it was a good idea to bring them in and give kids an idea of what to do in the woods in case they get lost,” John Brown Farm Site Manager Brendan Mills said. “It is nice to have the dogs here and to show people what they are able to do.”

“Shannon Bressett of Keeseville works with a pair of K-9 partners, Oakland and Ruby, who was at the farm to welcome visitors.

“Four hours of every day is running training for the two dogs,” Bressett said. “Even if it is just going for a walk around Keeseville to make sure that they are able to mind their manners, there is always something that they have to be working on.”

Minding their manners is something that is important when the dogs are working in an area where there are a lot of animals, big or small.

“When I took Oakland out to work on the Colin Gillis case, we were in the forest and a deer walked out in front of us,” she said. “I was a little concerned because it was the first time we had come across a big animal out in the wilderness, but Oakland just paused for a second to see what was there and then went right back to work.”

Bressett said that each of her dogs are suited for different types of searches, as Oakland will track for human scent in the air while Ruby will keep her nose on the ground.

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