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Thinking of becomming a Search and Rescue dog handler

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
It may be a long shot, but are any of you SAR dog handlers or know of anyone who is? I am seriously considering becomming a search and rescue dog handler. I think that it would be an incredable position that could definitely be helpful and also something i'd totally be into.

Here's a link with info on SAR dogs/training/etc (http://www.nasar.org/nasar/sar_dog_fact_sheet.php )

It takes between 1-2 yrs to get certified but to me that's totally worth the challenge. I would love to go through the program with my Australian Shepherd, Fosters....but i'm also considering getting another puppy (probably a GSD or another Aussie) as from what i've learned so far they are prefered for the training, but we'll see.

I'm already a NIMS certified first reponder (i work Animal Control for the city i live in - but all city employees are required to go though nims training to be a first reponder in an emergency.) So that will help already having that. I plan to go through a few more first aid classes to brush up a bit.

The SAR training is pretty demanding- it's several days a week normally and can go for a year or two- so it's definitely a long term committment- but i think it would be one i'd totally be into! At this point i'm still just researching and learning as much as i can. I have found the instructor near me and have contacted her so hopefully i'll be learning all i need to soon! I think this is something i'm going to really seek after! Wish me luck!!!
post #2 of 15
Wow that's great! Just wanted to wish you luck!
post #3 of 15
sounds cool. go for it.
post #4 of 15
Me too Ive been researching this and Ive bought the book Tracking: A Blueprint for Learning How... sounds pretty interesting and I am fascinated by things like this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
It may be a long shot, but are any of you SAR dog handlers or know of anyone who is? I am seriously considering becomming a search and rescue dog handler. I think that it would be an incredable position that could definitely be helpful and also something i'd totally be into.

Here's a link with info on SAR dogs/training/etc (http://www.nasar.org/nasar/sar_dog_fact_sheet.php )

It takes between 1-2 yrs to get certified but to me that's totally worth the challenge. I would love to go through the program with my Australian Shepherd, Fosters....but i'm also considering getting another puppy (probably a GSD or another Aussie) as from what i've learned so far they are prefered for the training, but we'll see.

I'm already a NIMS certified first reponder (i work Animal Control for the city i live in - but all city employees are required to go though nims training to be a first reponder in an emergency.) So that will help already having that. I plan to go through a few more first aid classes to brush up a bit.

The SAR training is pretty demanding- it's several days a week normally and can go for a year or two- so it's definitely a long term committment- but i think it would be one i'd totally be into! At this point i'm still just researching and learning as much as i can. I have found the instructor near me and have contacted her so hopefully i'll be learning all i need to soon! I think this is something i'm going to really seek after! Wish me luck!!!
post #5 of 15
You would be great at it! It sounds like a perfect fit you.
post #6 of 15
My cousin, formerly assistant chief of police in Austin, now a law enforcement consultant, was once in charge of a K-9 unit for a few years -- not search and rescue, but regular police dogs. He absolutely loved it, found it so rewarding, and took such pride in the dogs! I think your enthusiasm and your ability to really connect and communicate with animals would be a terrific asset in this kind of work.

If you can handle the physical demands of it, it sounds like a wonderful thing for you, Nikki! And you'd feel so good about being in a position to actually save lives!
post #7 of 15
Good luck. I currently do this with one of my dogs.
post #8 of 15
I've always wanted to be a SAR dog handler. I've got several books and have learned so much on the internet and talking to handlers.

A few years ago, when I was still living with my parents, I started becoming very serious about it. I found the perfect dog, a 6 month old GSD in a shelter. She had the perfect drive and took to training right away. She did very well and things were looking great for her to certify... when my mother decided she didn't like the dog anymore and made me find a new home for her. It wasn't the first time that my mother had done something like that, but it shattered my dream of doing SAR.

Maybe someday I'll try again because I would still really love to do it.

Good luck!
post #9 of 15
i think that would be a wonderful thing to do, and a great challenge. Good luck!
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Awesome news! I start Tuesday night! I spent a good while on the phone talking with my areas director for SAR and she said that I could come out on Tuesday night and go ahead and start training and see if it's something i definitely want to do

The program i will be going through is not a NASAR program though- it is a gov't run one sponsored by FEMA so this will be a sar team that is for rubble rescue looking for live survivors (think like 9-11 dog teams and other major building/tornado disasters). This is the link with some info on it http://www.disasterdog.org/index.htm The will match me with a Lab who has already been through the training- so i will only need the field training for about 8 months before i'll be able to take the test and get certified (much better than the year and a half to two years with the nasar program! that is mostly local stuff- the one i'm interested in goes all over the country to disaster sites). I can't wait to go check it out! I'm sooo thrilled!

It will certainly be challenging and time consuming- but i think that this is something i am pretty interested in at this point- so we'll see! I'll let you guys know how it goes!
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Just a little update- well as of right now- i'm training FOSTERS!!!! He may get to be my k-9 partner I'm soo thrilled i get to possibly use my own personal dog that i've already bonded really well with. He is totally ball crazy and extrenly high energy- which makes him a perfect canidate for a SAR dog. It's not set in stone yet- but i've already begun training him for it. We're going to try and master the agility basics before we move on to barrel and rubble piles though! It's going to be a long road.

If he isn't up to it though then i will likely getting another Australian Shepherd puppy to start training for it or they will match me up with a SAR Lab who has already been through the program. At this point though if he does well, i'd prefer to use Fosters. I think Fosters has a lot of potential and would really excell in this field as does the instructor we'll be working with,so we'll just take it one day at a time and see!

It will take a while to get certified though- you have to be voted in as a handler by the committee- and there's no time gurantee for when that will happen -so it's pretty much a wait and see game for a few months. There are some positions that will be opening up soon though- so keep your fingers crossed! We have to get voted in before we can get certified/tested though- so right now we'll be in the training phase! It could take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years just depening so we'll see. I LOVED it though when i went on Tuesday and i'm estatic to have the opportunity to start this! Also, now that i'm out of my old job- i can find a better one that will work around my SAR schedule and can also go to more weekend training sessions- so that's actually worked out well!

I think our biggest challenge at this point is going to be teaching him to climb up the ladders (every SAR dog has to learn to climb a ladder) and to get comfortable on uneven surfaces. He's smart though- so i'm hoping we can master that with a lot of work and praise!
post #12 of 15
That sounds very exciting! I've heard that Belgian Sheepdogs are also good for that line of work.
post #13 of 15
Congratulations!! SAR is a wonderful, rewarding experience- especially with a dog. You will find you and your dog (Fosters or another) can do things you never thought possible.

It sounds like you have the right, giving spirit needed, and have done a lot of research before making this decision, which is very important. You're definitely on the right track!

Your new team is obviously well organized, and you will learn a lot from them. If you want a third-party opinion of anything, feel free to PM me! I'm no expert, but have been in SAR (with and without dogs), for 8 years. Never did disaster, though, so would love to hear your experiences!
post #14 of 15
Wow Nikki! That is great news and that is going to be very rewarding I'm sure

Good luck with training Fosters!
post #15 of 15
That sounds great, Nikki. I have a friend who trains SAR dogs and handlers, and has been all over with her "earthquake team" (my term, not hers). Sometimes she has to travel to another country, e.g., Iran, at very short notice, and the dogs get to fly in in the first-class cabin.

Right now she's working with a Lab mix on sniffing out corpses in bodies of water. It sounds gross, but it's pretty amazing that dogs can actually sniff out a body that's under water.
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