One paragraph of self-description tells a large volume of what one might expect from Lana Gorina. She says: “My skills are best described as canine traits: high drive, energy, tenacity, well-socialized, friendly, likes food and toys, loves people and other dogs, curious and fairly brave, solid bite inhibition (one would hope), exposed to many environments/cultures/people, well-educated and properly trained. A few issues with basic obedience, but it's a work in progress.”
Lana’s canine references are apt, because it was her shepherd that motivated her to join CoCoSAR and Mila (pronounced Mee-la) is currently in training as a trailing dog with the Canine Resource.
That Lana has a sense of humor is evident the moment one meets her, just as it’s evident that she is not at all shy. The Academy of 2011, which she attended, heard from her early – and often.
Born in the former USSR, Lana lived in Poland, East Germany and Cuba before coming to the United States in 1990. She now lives in a remote part of El Sobrante with her only remaining family member (her brother) and tons of wild animals, along with the tame ones she cares for – two dogs and two cats.
She is a biochemist by education, and has spent most of her professional career as a scientist in oncology and respiratory drug development until about a year ago. Currently unemployed, she says she is enjoying the opportunity to spend more time on searches and training.
For fun, Lana used to race motorcycles and volunteer as a riding instructor at local racetracks, and she enjoys reading and cooking, “but this SAR team thingy and dogs take a big chunk of my not-so-free time now,” she says.
“I will try anything at least once. Granted, I am addicted to new challenges, and as soon as I become skilled at something that used to be impossible for me to conquer, I move on and look for a harder challenge. So, I finally found myself a hobby that seems to have endless challenges and adventures to offer.”
Besides giving her challenges, SAR has also given Lana new, strong associations and close friendships.
“I am glad to be surrounded by a bunch of people who seem to have the same never-give-up attitude,” she says. “Where else can one find a couple of hundred people driven by inexplicable desire to make their lives less comfy and relaxing through constant training, searches and other team-related activities preparing for the Big One, or anything else of that sort?”
To that end, she believes all the hassle of training is well worth it, not to mention, expected. Prior to joining CoCoSAR, she attended trainings in other counties and was not sold. But her first experience with CoCoSAR – playing a dead subject at a full-team medical training – gave her a, one could say, corpse-eye view of how this team works. She was impressed.
“I saw many people doing many different things, making mistakes, trying, learning, succeeding, failing, trying again, constantly moving around – a well-orchestrated chaos in motion – and I thought ‘yep, this is definitely a place for me’,” she says. “Being a member of our CoCo SAR team feels like being a part of a big dysfunctional yet very happy and loving family. We all have the same mission, and we all contribute to it according to our desire and abilities. This implicit feeling of trust I have about my teammates during searches is a very powerful motivator.”
And Lana is especially appreciative of her Canine Resource “family.”
“Every time I log in my canine training hours, I am thinking how many more hours my teammates spent planning, training, and troubleshooting me and my dog,” she says. “For every one hour of my time, it's at least five more hours of my team members’. Their dedication, constant support, encouragement and patience is absolutely incredible.”