Search & Rescue Saturday – That New Dog Smell

by Mr. Taleteller on

One question that I’m asked quite often and several people asked from my first post is,

How did you come to get Küster?

Answering that question will both let me talk about my favorite subject, Küster and continue the subject of what goes into finding a SAR dog.  You see, when someone first thinks about joining a search and rescue K-9 team you have two options; find a puppy or look for an adult dog.  There are no guarantees with either option.

Küster and Karma -- Tales and Tails

Küster and Karma

In our case, I had looked around for a dog from a local shelter, because buying an adult working dog was WAY out of our price range.  However, I didn’t find one that I felt confident had the drive to do the work, and I wasn’t sure what to look for because I hadn’t worked a dog before.  Now, I have a better idea about what a working dog looks like and there are quite a few candidates in rescue.  They are purchased as pets but simply have too much drive to just be a pet.  They drive people crazy with their need to work and often become destructive.  I really didn’t feel confident that I could choose a dog in a shelter and find one with the right combination of drive and instinct to be a canine partner.

Buzz and Kuster Look Fierce -- Tales and Tails

Buzz and Küster Look Fierce

I began to do research and to talk to a lot of canine SAR handlers.  When I saw dogs that I really liked, I asked people where they came from.  I learned about Küster’s breeder through word of mouth.  She was breeding sound, healthy dogs with incredible instinct and drive.  I talked to her a lot about what I wanted and we went up to visit her and both of Küster’s parents while his mom was pregnant.  I was very impressed by both of them.  Not only do they have great drive to work, they also are very friendly with people.  I knew that I wanted a dog who wasn’t going to be too big in case I had to carry him, had great drive so he would work to get his reward and would like people.  When we met his parents we liked what we saw a lot.  After that, it was a waiting game until the puppies were born.

Nike Looks Intense -- Tales and Tails

Nike Looks Intense

We had first choice of the puppies in the litter and we went up to make our choice when they were four weeks old.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  I had heard that male German Shepherds were easier to train for first time handlers and so I was leaning more towards a male.  There were three puppies out of the litter that I had my eye on.  I handled all three of them for a while outside, looking to see which of them was curious, liked to smell around more and watch things, and liked to chase.  When I set Küster down, he was the one who followed me in the yard.  After spending some time talking to the breeder, she actually thought he was a good choice.  She thought the other two males in the litter might be too intense and might be better suited to Schutzhund.  Houndstooth liked him because he was solid black and she likes the black Shepherds, although looks were the lowest of my considerations.

So, we made our decision final and then we waited until it was time to go and pick him up.  We still fondly remember driving home while he howled in the back until the Jingle Dogs began singing on the radio.  After that, we put the song on repeat so we could enjoy the relative peace and quiet.  It was pretty much the only time he was ever very loud in the car.

I guess my main statement here would be,  it’s a huge gamble when starting with a puppy.  Take your time.  We tried the best we could to stack the deck in our favor.

And next week we’ll talk about what happens after you bring that puppy home.

Küster Profile -- Tales and Tails

Küster Profile

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  • Sue Dyer

    Can’t believe that little beauty grew into the Infidel:).

  • Jay of The Depp Effect

    He was a very sweet little pup, wasn’t he? It’s fascinating to hear about the process of choosing .. sometimes I think I’d like to train a SAR dog myself, but a) I’m not fit enough myself, and b) well, I should have done it – if I was going to – when I was a lot younger! It’s fun reading about Kuster’s adventures, though!

  • SGilbert

    Do you need to treat a Search and Rescue dog different than you would the Greyhounds?

    • Mr. Taleteller

      I’ll talk about that a little next week.

  • Sara Blair

    If only everyone would put that much thought into choosing a puppy. Kuster seems like the perfect match!

  • TheScottieMom

    What a cutie! Looking forward to reading what happens after Kuster the puppy came home 🙂 Much love, The Scottie Mom.

  • genjiscorner

    Even with all your research, it was still a huge leap of faith since Kuster was your first working dog puppy. Looks like you made the right decision.

  • Oz theTerrier

    I cannot wait to hear more. We love Kuster over here…a gorgeous GSD!
    Happy Saturday,

  • The Slimmer Puggums

    I am totally loving this edition about SAR dogs. Keep it up Mr. Taleteller. 🙂
    Much Love to all the Taleteller family,
    Mindy 🙂
    PS: How did you know Kuster was suited for SAR for live people versus the other rescue dog careers?

    • Mr. Taleteller

      Actually our group had several HRD dogs already certified and working. We needed a couple “live” find.

  • Great post Mr. Taleteller, looking forward to next week!

  • What you wrote about people buying puppies with too much drive to be household pets seems so true. I think that rescues are filled with that kind of dog. Imagine if you didn’t have a job for Kuster or understand his incredible drive, I bet you’d go insane! Our black lab R could fall into that category, except that we knew we were getting a high-drive dog when we adopted him… thank goodness!

    Kuster was such a cute puppy! I am looking forward to hearing the next chapter!

  • Jodi

    So basically Kuster picked you. 🙂

  • First time here but already loved the first post I read. Got my own puppy at home that’s really lovable and cuddly, but he can be quite a handful once he starts bothering people, which is why I decided to put up a fence for him. I’ve recently written a blog about dog fences-training here: