FLORENCE – A career in law enforcement is a calling for many – even if it’s a second career. MTN News met a man dedicated to service and the dog that’s right by his side in this Salute the Badge segment.
It’s a face you want to see if you’re lost and need finding — Abby, a certified tracking and trailing dog and her trainer — Missoula County Search and Rescue assistant chief David Howe.
Howe retired from the Marine Corp after a 30 year career and joined the search and rescue team five years ago to continue what he started in the military.
“I’ve served my entire life. It is who I am. So when I got there, I had the opportunity to serve my community and I looked at ways to go that and that suited my personality and it’s continued to be a great match,” Howe said.
Abby is his pet but is also highly trained and loves to work.
“What she does is if you put 100 people out in the woods and I can tell her which one we’re looking for, she’ll ignore 99 of them and go to the one we’re looking for,” Howe said. “She scent discriminates and looks for the one person in a sea of many.”
Howe’s love of dogs and training them unexpectedly evolved into a business called Sharp Canines. He also has a narcotics dog and a hospice dog and plans on becoming a master dog trainer himself.
He saw a need in Missoula County for the things Abby can do. “There were not any county search and rescue dogs. Ravalli County has a superb dog team but Missoula County did not, so there was a need.”
Abby doesn’t go on all the search and rescues — only when she’s needed.
Howe meanwhile is a multi-tasker whose specialized training involves ground searches, swift water rescues and avalanche searches — all those things that can get us into trouble out there.
It’s one of the reasons that Howe is proud to wear the badge.