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Placer County Search and Rescue Dogs Undergo Training Mission with a Holiday Twist

"Takes a certain type of dog to do it."

Pollyanne is used to getting pats on the back for finding people who are lost in the forest. But Tuesday night, she and her pack of search and rescue dogs are up to something funny.

"We have a special mission. We are going on a special search because Santa and his elves crashed so we have to go find them."

Kona is taking it very seriously.

The elves on the other hand -- not so much.

"Our job was to find all the presents that they lost and find all the elves that got away from Santa. Uh, to save Christmas," said Cyndee Schwartz, Placer County Search and Rescue Dog Team trainer.

It's a festive way to teach these working dogs the skills they need to save lives.

"What we're doing is evidence search," Schwartz said.

Instead of using articles of clothing, they're using Christmas presents.

So Jasmine the bloodhound and her trainer Jeff Landre are hot on the stuffed animal trail.

Jasmine found four toys in just as many minutes. Rumor has it, this hound has the best nose in Placer County. Even so, trailing someone's scent in a secluded area, in this case Snowy Peaks Tree Farm in Foresthill, is difficult. And it can end down a very dark path.

"They could also unfortunately find people who have passed away, but they're main job is to get them while they're still alive," Schwartz said.

In this case, Jasmine first passed the elf she was looking for. But it only took a few minutes for her to circle back for another sniff, pull hard on the leash and track that scent to exactly the right spot.