'We were up there to make a difference,' says search dog owner

PORTLAND, Ore. -- On the afternoon of March 28, eight members of Mountain Wave's K9 team responded to the deadly mudslide in Washington with four K9's, including Nexus and his owner, trainer and teammate, Scott Lee.

"You always hope there's that chance somebody gets found alive," Lee said. "Knowing they're out there but not knowing where they are -- that's the hardest part."

Lee's search dog, 4-year-old yellow Lab Nexus, can sniff out a human scent as far as a half-mile away. But the conditions were challenging in Oso.

"Sometimes the mud would be solid footing and sometimes you'd move six inches and you'd be in mud to your waist. Sometimes I'd take one step and be stuck," Lee said.

"Normally when we're training he'll sit at where the strongest scent source is," Lee continued. "Out there in the mud and water he can't necessarily sit. He's not going to be able to pinpoint. What I have to do as a handler is interpret what he's telling me. I have to read him."

Lee is on standby waiting for word from FEMA, ready to go back if needed.

"We're up there to make a difference, whatever impact we have. That's what we try to do," Lee said.

On Sunday afternoon Mountain Wave received FEMA activation for more help and sent another team Tuesday.