We have published a more comprehensive information pack on the upcoming training courses.
[Contact details are included in the pack]
Download the information pack.
New Search Dog Training Courses being run with Sussex County Dog Training.
Lowland Search Dogs Sussex are very pleased to announce that they have recently become ALSAR Search Dogs Sussex.
The Association of Lowland Search And Rescue or ALSAR for short are part of the UK Operating Group for Search & Rescue. ALSAR’s national role is to coordinate the national provision of Lowland Search & Rescue resources, set standards of competence for all involved in operational deployments, to represent and support our units and to help develop and shape Search & Rescue in the UK.
The full ALSAR announcement can be seen at http://www.alsar.org.uk/alsar-news/8-news-features/33-sar-dogs.
The site will and all other online services will be adopting the new name in coming weeks.
[The following post by Sharon, one of our very experienced dog handlers, takes you through the assessment process.]
We did it again!! Just over a week ago Murphy and I under took our 2 year re-assessment.
Before becoming operational a lowland search dog and their handler must go through a series of assessments. To begin with their own unit will put them through 2 pre-assessments, one during the day and one at night. If they pass these they are then put forward to the national assessments where the dog and handler are assessed by national assessors from other units.
This is undoubtedly one of the most nerve racking days of any dog handlers life, a rite of passage with high stakes. For me it felt like Murphy and I were on show to the search community for the first time and my peers were about to judge us to see if we were good enough to join the operational list. None of us like failing assessments but when you add a dog into the equation things become very emotive. By the time Murphy and I went to our first national assessment we had developed a strong bond and he was my boy! Failure would be for one of two reasons, either I would do something wrong (driver error as it is known) or what felt much worse, Murph would be judged as not good enough. The assessments are run very professionally and nobody will write a dog off who doesn’t make it first time, but being told your dog does not make the mark is a huge disappointment and despite you knowing the assessors have made an objective judgement based on the standards it feels very personal. In that moment of sheer heart wrenching disappointment all you want to do is defend your dog, after all he his your boy. Lucky for Murph and I we passed first time. I had worked poor Murph so hard asking him to look under nearly every leaf in the forest but it was all worth it. We had done it. The comment from the assessors was great dog but the handler needs to keep her mouth shut and let him work!!! Not only had we passed but they had complemented my boy. A great day.
To remain operational search dogs have to be assessed every 2 years. A week ago Saturday it was time for me and Murphy’s to do our 2 yearly re-assessment. Having been an operational search dog for 4 years now this was our third assessment. Over the last 4 years Murphy and I have been on numerous searches where what we do could potentially be the difference between life and death for someone. We take it all in our stride. Search is what we do. But put us in front of 2 assessors, people who I have known for years and who I consider as friends and it is still as scary as it was that first time for all the same reasons. Will I do something and let the dog down or worse still will he walk by a misper and be deemed no longer competent to be on the operational list. This is something I’m sure I would find even harder to deal with after 4 years. I am confident in Murph’s abilities and have proved time and time again in training that he can do the job.
During an assessment assessors can place out 1 to 3 mispers and the handler does not know how many are out there. So off we go our task is to search 25 metres either side of a 2km path in an hour. After searching for about 35 minutes we were well over half way round and we have not found anyone. This really starts to test a handlers nerve, and confidence in the dog. When 2 or 3 Mispers are placed out they normally spread throughout the course so when you have not found any towards the end of the course the doubt starts to eat at you has the dog missed? But you need to hang on to the faith you have in your dog and press on. Now Murphy being a Border Collie cross Terrier is not the biggest search dog. This fact combined with my unfounded fear that assessors might try to put mispers in inaccessible places such as deep in brambles to test whether my short legged dog can really do the job. So as we near the end of the course there are large amount of brambles and young saplings making it almost impossible for Murph to really get in and search. Now my nerve is really tested. I encourage Murph in where I can but I have to trust that if there is someone deep in the undergrowth Murph will pick up from the path and indicate. Then at last a little muddy track appears. Great I can send Murphy down there and with the wind direction it will mean he will have the best chance of picking up someone in the undergrowth. I send Murph down the path and keep walking listening for his bell, knowing if he goes off into the undergrowth I know he has got something. The bell doesn’t appear to leave the track but suddenly Murph comes running at full speed down that path and jumps up hitting me (his indication he has found). I was so focused in ensuring I search the undergrowth it doesn’t occur to me that someone could be down the little muddy track. My first thought is that once again I am over working my dog and he is now getting frustrated so is alerting to try and please me. I turn to tell him to get on and see his face, he is giving me such an intense look I know he has found. I use the command “Show me Murph” and off he runs back down the path leading the way. And there he is. The first misper. We have done it again.
On this occasion it turns out there is just the one misper, we have held our nerve and found all there was to find. That’s me and Murph qualified for another 2 years. This time the comments are not great dog shame about the handler they are what a good partnership, me and my boy