Search and rescue team acquires two new dedicated volunteers
January 20, 2020
Teesdale & Weardale Search & Rescue Team now has two newly qualified search dogs; Tarn, a five year old Tri-coloured Border collie owned by team member Mike Needham and Chief, a three year old red & white Border collie owned by team member Tony High. Tony was especially proud as Chief won ‘The Lyons Bowl ‘ for best dog.
It takes two years of intensive training to get to the point where both dog and handler can be used to search for missing persons in the North East and around the country assisting other Rescue teams. The training starts with basic obedience to show that dog and handler have an understanding of their role and to demonstrate control. Dogs are then stock tested to ensure they ignore any livestock when searching, this must be passed before further training occurs.
Over the ensuing months training is at least once a week and one weekend per month which can be anywhere in the country, Wales, the Peak district and the Lake district are favourites. The dogs are trained to pick up ‘air scent’ and follow it to its source to achieve their reward, usually nothing more than a simple toy or ball.
One of the final tests is the indication test which is how the dog will work during its searching career. The dog must find the casualty then bark, it must then return to its handler and bark again, this is known as ‘indicating’ as it indicates that it has found something, it then leads its handler to the ‘find’.
The dogs are not owned by the team, but are treated as the handlers pet and are therefore willing volunteers and, like the rest of the team members receive no remuneration. All costs and time are at the handlers expense, that’s dedication!