It is 19 degrees Fahrenheit, a cold wind is blowing out of
the north at 7-10 mph, and you are excited to be out in it. You aren’t just out
in it, you will be sitting still for 30 minutes or more, waiting to reward a
dog for finding you. If that sounds like a lot of fun then you might just fit
in with German Shepherd Search and Rescue Dog Association (GSSARDA) as they
Thanks to Tops Kennel, GSSARDA was able to use facilities generally
reserved for S.W.A.T. and canine officers. It was a collection of abandoned
barns, industrial buildings, and office spaces. There were also some junk cars
used to train police canines for vehicles searches.
Team Members Participating
For the first time since the evaluation all operational dogs
and handlers were able to attend the same training so a few minutes was taken
to get some pictures. At 19 degrees the handlers were not about to sacrifice
warmth to look pretty so everyone is bundled up, but it was nice to finally get
a picture of the group.
Susan and Gryphon
Susan and Gryphon led the way as the tested type 1 USAR dog
on the team. Gryphon was awesome, swiftly spotting and alerting to a subject
hidden on a vehicle’s roof. He then raced through the office building finding subjects
hidden in a shower. Gryphon took full advantage of S.W.A.T’s activities to
crash open a door that was breached in a training exercise. Gryph gave an
excellent alert. He ended the day in a barn stacked to the rafters with bales
of hay, scrambling up 20 feet into the air to alert close to the subject.
Bill and Koda
Koda followed Gryphon with her first opportunity to do a
building search. She was completely un-fazed when her first subject hid on top
of a van. A few minutes later she alerted to a subject in a closet. She quickly
found the shower subject and made swift work of finding a subject hidden on the
roof of one of the buildings. It may have been her first building search but
she handled it like a pro.
Shane and Rosie
By the time it was Rosie’s turn she was dancing with excitement.
She raced laps checking empty barns as her handler gathered his pack and radio.
She quickly spotted subjects in vans and pickup trucks and gave a decent alert.
The subject in the show was quickly found and then she went out and found
another subject hidden on an ice machine in an abandoned concession area. She
bounced up the bails of hay to land on her last subject for the day.
Sherri and Belle
In true Belle fashion she methodically searched each
building quickly finding and alerting to the subjects in the vehicles. When let
out to find the next subject, she tracked him through the snow and into her
second building. The shower subject finally got a break when Belle alerted to
his position. Hiding under counters and behind doors were no problem for Belle
and she scaled a second stack of hay, even jumping from a wobbling bale to gain
a higher position and finally locate her last subject.
Lots of Fun
Judging from the smiles on the handlers and the relaxed
dogs, everyone had a lot of fun and would be more than happy to go again.