Search Dog Team

 

Lowland Rescue search dog teams are used to search areas that are difficult for human teams to search, such as dense woodland and difficult terrain, or to cover larger areas more quickly.  As with the foot teams, they will also look for vulnerable missing people, such as children, those suffering from mental illness and despondent people, who may wish to harm themselves.

Currently, we have a small team of three dogs.  All are Level 1 Trainee search dogs.

 

Meet our Dogs

 

 Merry

Donna and MerryMerry is a 3 year old German Shepherd, owned, trained and handled by Donna, who has had her since she was 9 weeks old.

By the time Merry was 1 year old, it was apparent that she needed a job, as she had so much energy.  Donna decided to join Warwickshire Search and Rescue with the intention of training her as a search dog.  However, at the time, the team did not have a dog team.  Another team member was also interested in training their dog, and so a dog team was formed in September 2014.

Merry is a trailing dog. She sniffs an article of clothing or other scent article, such as a car seat, and trails that particular person’s scent to their current location.

 

 

Gem

Debbie and GemGem is a 10 year old Staffie x Boxer, owned, trained and handled by Debbie. 

Debbie found Gem in a dog rescue centre, when she was 2 years old, and they’ve been together ever since.

Gem is an air scenting dog, meaning she searches for scent carried in air currents and seeks out the source of the scent.  She will find any human scent in an area and it’s then down to the handler to decide if the person is the one we are looking for.

She is not the typical breed used in search and rescue teams and she also started training quite late in life.  But, it seems you can teach an old dog new tricks, and Gem is doing very well in her training.

 

Belle

Search dog Belle and her handlersBelle is a 5 month old working cocker spaniel and is handled by Eileen and Mark.  She has been with us since she was 8 weeks old. Belle comes from a very long line of working cocker spaniels.  She is inquisitive and FULL of energy. These 2 skills combined are being honed to train her to become a search and rescue dog.

Belle started training when she was 12 weeks old and is showing strong signs of being an air scenting dog. Belle and her handlers are having a lot of fun learning the ropes of this extremely important work and the new handlers said “we have received invaluable support and advice from the experienced members of the dog handling team”.

All our search dogs are trainees, and not yet operational.

 

Training

Training a search dog requires huge commitment.  We train our dogs in group sessions, two or three times a week, all year round, whatever the weather, as long as it’s safe for the dogs.  These group training sessions are held at various locations in Warwickshire, so we give our dogs the widest experience possible.  The handlers will also train their dogs outside of these sessions, often with help from family members, friends and neighbours.  It can take around two years of training and assessments to become operational, and longer to progress to larger area searches.  All Lowland Rescue search dogs are trained to national standards set by the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR), and, once they have passed their assessment and become operational, are reassessed every two years to ensure the standards are still being met.

 

Here’s a video from one of our training sessions last year.

 

Thank you to Carol-Anne Klatt for making this video for us.

 

Maybe you can help

We need volunteers to hide for the dogs (known as ‘mispering’), so they get realistic experience of searching for missing people.  If we use the same team members, family members and friends regularly in training to act as missing people for us, the dogs could get used to finding the same people, so it’s important for us to have lots of volunteers.  If you would like to come and help us at our training sessions, please e-mail our Search Dog Co-ordinator at searchdogs@warksar.org.uk.  You must like dogs, as sometimes they like to give you a kiss.  Also, please bear in mind that you could be waiting a while to be found, and you might get dirty!

 

Become a Search Dog Handler

If you have a pet dog you would like to train as a search dog, visit our Join Us page to read more about the Dog Handler role.  If you have any further questions, e-mail our Search Dog Co-ordinator at searchdogs@warksar.org.uk.