Funny you should mention this. I started reading a book about a SAR dog and her handler the other day, and have been thinking about the topic ever since. I would love to think I'd be able to do something like that, as it sounds really interesting and the bond between handler and dog is incredible. However, as she mentions in her book, in actuality I lack the characteristics that would make me an appropriate handler. She says the things that she felt comfortable with were- not afraid of heights/dark, not squeamish, and a host of experiences and aptitude for navigation, field assessment etc.
The book is called The Scent of the Missing. On the back cover, the author bio mentions that she 'works with' the dog the book is about- emphasis mine, because it implies that the dog won't be dying at the end of the book!! I can't handle other dog memoirs where the dog invariably dies towards the end of it!
Yeah, I don't do it myself, but I researched it a bit after our dog trainer mentioned that our younger dog would be good at it. She has a high prey drive, a high play drive and a loooong attention span for tracking (she loves it, nose to the ground finding things, following scent, is the only thing she focuses on ). The trainer takes her out in the woods finding things for fun sometimes (we hired for obedience training, not tracking training) and thinks she could "air scent" too. Plus she's easy to train and eager to please. She's Border Collie and we don't know what else.
Turns out, however, that the characteristics of the handler are more important than just happening to have a good dog...a good handler is hard to find, they'll go find an appropriate dog if their current one doesn't meet the mettle. I'm not handler material and it's not an appropriate thing to choose just because I have a dog who may have a talent for it .
There are SAR groups all over the country, find one that covers your area and talk to them, they train people/dogs who are appropriate and dedicated enough. I read that it takes two years to train person and dog.
Your best bet is to find a SAR group in your area, and go from there. Contrary to what people think, SAR is NOT glamourous and sometimes can be a real crush to your emotions if it ends up being a Search and Recovery. There is nothing exciting and cool about standing in freezing cold rain for hours on end in a training session, but if you love the outdoors, and you have a dog that enjoys tracking/trailing, it can be fun.
It is, however........
* Time-consuming (have to have an employer that will let you leave at the drop of a hat)
* Mentally and physically exhausting (for you, your family, and your dog)
* Worth it
If you find a SAR group in your area, you can volunteer to be a decoy, etc. and really get a feel for what it is
If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
Originally Posted by talkofthetown
As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.
Yes, I have known many HUSAR (Heavy Urban Search and Rescue) dogs. Most are labs. Some are Shepards/Mallies and there have been some springers as well.
I work with them primarily on a medical basis (pre-purchase exams, emergency vet medicine etc). However, they routinely run drills up north of the city where I live.
HUSAR in this area is a full time job. Might be something worth investigating if you really want to get into it. You dont bring your own dog, but the police and fire department buys them and matches them up with handlers.