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Old 01-07-2013, 06:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First SAR meeting, what to ask?

So Tucson's first SAR meeting of the year will be this Wednesday and I was invited to come by if I was interested in joining. I don't really know what to expect or what to ask other then about time/training commitments. Any pointers?
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Listen more than you talk.

If you plan on doing dogsport (schutzhund, bitework) ask about that.

How do they evaluate prospects coming on the team; what if your dog does not have the right drives.

Approximate annual cost for members (if money is an issue; we tell folks a few thousand a year but it could vary)

I would listen more than I talk.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Nancy! I figured I'd be mostly listening, but I didn't want to come in with no questions. Those are good ones I didn't think about.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nancy's advice is good. I think that time/financial/training commitments are the big thing to discuss. That is what scares off the vast majority of new members. If your team is purely K9, I might also ask about their non-dog-related SAR skills training. Some K9 teams do a lot, but others don't offer much in the way of teaching land navigation skills, lost person behavior, emergency first aid/survival skills, etc. If you're going to have to learn to use a map and compass (for example) on your own, you'll have to factor that in to your decision.

I'd also ask if you can (or are expected to) attend a few training sessions without your dog. My team requires new members to attend at least 3 trainings without their dogs, and with the time my dog was evaluated, I wound up basically attending 4. It's a really good idea to do that so you at least have a basic framework for understanding the training, plus you will learn whether trudging through the wilderness in all kinds of weather after your dog, and hiding in the wilderness for other people's dogs, is really your thing.

Don't really worry about the no questions thing though. I didn't have any when I attended my first SAR event (I had very little warning...went from, "Hmm, K9 SAR sounds fun!" to "OMG they're evaluating my dog today!" in about 2 days due to the timing of my inquiry), so I was incredibly unprepared. At least with my team, it was more of a dialogue than me having to ask questions. They made sure to lay out all the team's requirements and expectations very clearly, and as we talked I asked for clarification on details they didn't mention. It was very comfortable and easy.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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All teams are different too. We have a three month no dog probation policy but will evaluate before then.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, we are definitely on the low end of the requirements there. There are some teams that require as much as a year or two of participation without a dog before you can begin training your own. My team requires those three trainings without a dog, then a six-month probationary period for both dog and handler, at the end of which they may or may not be asked to become full members. That's how I was accepted as a full member of my team recently, but my dog was kicked off. LOL (just describing this for the OP's benefit, if they're interested). There seem to be about as many ways to manage a SAR team as there are SAR teams.

OP, another thing to expect is a decent number of abbreviations and lingo that you might not understand right away if you don't have previous SAR experience. If this is a training session then it's probably okay to speak up and ask what they mean, but if it's a business meeting type of thing, you may want to bring a notebook to jot down anything you don't understand and ask later, just so you're not interrupting the flow of the discussion. It's usually pretty easy to follow the conversation even if you're not clear on the exact meaning of an abbreviation.

You can also just not worry about that yet though--I've been actively involved for about 8 months now and I still periodically have to go, "Um, what the heck does [x] stand for?"
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the tips. I believe the wait period before I can bring a dog in is 6 months-1 year. That doesn't really matter to me though because none of my current 2 are eligible anyway (hip dysplasia, luxating patellas).
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Let us know how it goes. It works out real well to get all the groundwork laid before you try to bring in a dog and you can learn a LOT by hiding for and flanking for other dog teams.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verivus View Post
So Tucson's first SAR meeting of the year will be this Wednesday and I was invited to come by if I was interested in joining. I don't really know what to expect or what to ask other then about time/training commitments. Any pointers?
Here's my suggestion: read all the information they have made publicly available. Then instead of asking questions that have already been answered there, ask more in-depth questions that you may have. They will likely be accustomed to answering basic questions but you will show sincerity if you have already done some homework.

From a google search for "tucson sar dog" it appears the group's web site is:
http://www.sarci.org/SRDI.htm
There is a lot of good information there that will answer questions such as time/training commitments and when a candidate member is eligible to start a dog.

Unfortunately when the "training" link is clicked I get a 404 Not Found error. But I found that if I change the URL extension from '.htm' to '.html' then it works:
Southwest Rescue Dogs, Inc. - Meet the Team
The information on this hidden page will be helpful, but the header incorrectly says "Meet the Team" when it should be "Training". Maybe there is an opportunity for a candidate member with web skills to help out in that department.

Think of your own questions that are relevant to you. Here is an example that I would be curious about:

Why are Queensland Heelers often chosen for SAR on the team? Is it because they have proven to be very tolerant to the desert heat? Are German Shepherds in general not able to cope as well with the conditions?
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
Let us know how it goes. It works out real well to get all the groundwork laid before you try to bring in a dog and you can learn a LOT by hiding for and flanking for other dog teams.
Agreed. As I said I sort of fell into SAR with my dog who flunked out, but I'm looking for another dog...in maybe 6 months at the earliest, because I realize how much I have to learn. It's definitely a good idea to get involved prior to getting a dog for SAR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dog27
Why are Queensland Heelers often chosen for SAR on the team? Is it because they have proven to be very tolerant to the desert heat? Are German Shepherds in general not able to cope as well with the conditions?
Well as an ACD fan, I'll say that I have trouble finding other ACDs (of which Queensland Heelers are at best a line, and that name is often used as a synonym for ACD) in SAR, so that is neat to learn about that team (I did not Google it myself ). I will say that my heelers cope with NM heat far better than any of the GSDs I know. ACDs are bred for extreme arid conditions like we face in the southwestern US.

One of my heelers in particular would make an excellent search dog, based on nosework exercises and fun evaluations we've done with him. Unfortunately, by the time I got involved with SAR he was far too old to begin training, so we'll never know...oh well, still one of the best dogs I've ever owned.
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The rowdy dogs:
Hector-2 y/o GSD (mix?) rescue
Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!

Last edited by RowdyDogs; 01-09-2013 at 02:56 AM.
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