This week our team get our fix of puppies. Life’s Ruff, Let’s talk dogs. Or in this case puppies.
The qualities of a new search dog and what a handler is looking for is vast. If you were to put many of the earlier posts from Search and Rescue Saturday together there would be a pretty good list. But, are there a handful of items that can be used to determine the qualities of a new search dog? I believe so.
We look for bold and athletic dogs. They need extreme ball or toy drive. Let’s face it, if the dog needs a job to do, it will be very challenging to live with at home. We love dogs that have a strong desire to hunt, chase and posses their ball or toy. They must love the game of search.
Because of the areas in which the dogs search our athletic dogs must be sure footed. How well they handle unstable surfaces can make or break your future K-9 partner. How well does the dog handle challenging footing? Is it strong and confident or does it hesitate? Will it search for its ball or toy through the unstable surfaces? Some people also call this nerve strength.
There tends to be quite a bit of public relations that goes on in K-9 Search And Rescue. Let’s face it, this is how we educate the public about what we do. For volunteer organizations like ours, it is also how teams raise funds to keep trained and operational. So a personable, socialized dog is always a plus.
Finally, we look for a dog that is able to make decisions and work on it’s own. We use search dogs as a tool to speed up the search. If the dog will not leave it’s handler, it is just another member of a ground search team. Our dogs need to search away and often out of sight of the handler. That brings me to the decision making. If the dog is out of sight of the handler it needs to that very important decision of making the final response when it has found the lost person.
The topic of what to look for in a search dog is a very interesting topic. Yes, there are a few core principles that tend to never change. Other areas seem more fluid in the interpretation. If I were to re-write this post in one year I believe we will have learned more about dogs and searching and how we work together. The post would be a little different. But, I believe the drive of the dog will be one topic that will stay static and not change. They need that intense, genetic focus to search.
So why do I write all this. Well, last week one of my teammates sent a message to the team that mentioned she would be looking at puppies. Surprisingly not to for from where the Chief Editor and I live. Who can say no to looking at a new litter of of potential working dogs.
I’m a tad partial about our K-9 team. We have a great group of people. Everyone went to work finding a place for Kathleen to meet and test the litter. We needed a new location. One that the puppies had not been.
Our location a local fire house. They even moved their fire truck and ambulance outside so that we could have the area. Kathleen, who is the handler looking for a new K-9 partner, brought in a wire dog crate for a non-stable surface. We found a trash can to use for an enclosed space. After the GoPro was handed out to record, the first puppy was brought in for testing.
So how did this testing work?
One at a time each puppy was brought into the firehouse. It was given a moment to adjust to the environment. We watched its actions. Did the puppy go explore or just stand there? Kathleen played a little with a small toy and tossed it on the crate. We watched how the pup handled walking on the wire crate. Each of us got to have a little time holding puppy and passing it around. Puppy was asked to go into the trash can. How did it handle being enclosed. Our tests on little puppies are all completed in fun little to no stress environment at the best of our abilities. The puppies all eight weeks old did very good. After talking things over Kathleen made her pick, should she decide to purchase a dog from this litter. She had a couple others to look over at other breeders.
We wish Kathleen luck with her search for a new search dog and great success in the future.