Am I Cut Out
For SAR Work?
Search and Rescue is much more than just a fun hobby and it
is not something that suits everyone. The rewards are great but there
are a lot of sacrifices in terms of time, energy and often money as well.
If you are considering getting involved in Search and Rescue, please take
a few minutes to look around our site and seriously consider your answers
to the questions below. If your answers have you wanting to find out more,
then please look at the GARDA
FAQ page to learn more about our organization.
*The questions and information below were written by Heather
Houlahan of the Allegheny Mountain Rescue
Group and adapted for GARDA by Beth Bradshaw.
Questions to ask yourself if you think
you want to be involved in Search & Rescue work:
- Am I willing to spend 1 to 2 years training 3 times a week
before my dog and I are ready to participate in a search?
- Am I willing to continue training once or twice and week;
sometimes for full days, indefinitely?
- Am I (and my family) ready to be a member of an organization
that spent approximately 1400 hours training, 100 hours searching and 32 hours
in public demonstrations in one year?
- Am I physically and mentally prepared to spend long hours,
day and night in some of the worst weather and terrain conditions? Do
I have a high tolerance for physical discomfort?
- Is my job flexible enough to allow me leave for a search?
Am I willing to get up at 3AM and drive for 3-4 hours?
- Can I afford thousands of dollars in search equipment, gas,
training courses and seminars?
- Am I mentally prepared to find a deceased victim? Am
I prepared to reward my dog happily when he leads me to a cadaver?
- Am I willing to undergo medical training and other specialized
training for search work and learn skills unrelated to dog handling?
- If I do not already have a dog am I (and my family) willing
to welcome one into our home and commit to his care whether or not he or I
succeed in SAR?
- Am I willing to acquire a new puppy specifically for search
work and train for several years?
Is My Dog
Cut Out For Search Work?
- Is he an appropriate breed (or mix) and age? Sometimes
an older dog takes to searching, but the training may be more difficult and
time consuming and the working life of the dog is much shorter. Often
handlers must spend considerable time correcting behaviors that are not compatible
with the requirements of searching. Many breeds and mixes are suitable
for search work but small dogs (under 40 pounds), sighthouds and giant breeds
are usually inappropriate. Herding dogs, retrievers and working breeds
have all proven to be successful but remember- the individual dog must have
the determination and the drive to search coupled with a completely stable
and gentle temperament with both people and animals and must be physically
capable to perform the task. This can be a rare combination and you
must be realistic about your own dog.
- Does he have a rock solid temperament, outgoing, confident,
calm and non-aggessive to all types of people and animals?
Does he show intelligence and persistence
in solving problems? Does he tend to use his nose to locate things?
Is he in excellent health?
Is he closely bonded to me, does he prefer
my company to other activity? Is he reliable off-leash?
Am I willing to expose him to a certain level
of shared risk?