To SAR dog or not to SAR dog...
Well first off as this is my first post, hello to everyone on the Forum!
Like many of the people who posted here, at first I set out to get a SAR dog in the "wrong way". Instead of joining the SAR team first, I started looking for a dog. Luckily, I didn't pick up a dog at the breeders that guaranteed me their dogs were fit and perfect for the job (american show line GSDs for the most part... not saying they were bad dogs but since the breeders didn't work the dogs in that way how could they know?). All to say, I stumbled onto a work line breeder who set me on the right path (didn't exactly chew me out but...).
I have now looked at SAR teams in my area and found one where I will start my training in March. I am confident I have an affinity for it (12 years in the infantry & still serving... from what I see volunteer SAR calls pretty much on a similar skillset, correct me if I'm wrong).
So my question is: Am I getting ahead of myself if I still seek out a work line GSD for this summer? (yes, I'm fixated on these dogs) I'm not looking into getting the dog admited this year. I was thinking of doing scent work/tracking as a sport with the dog until it gets invited for an evaluation(is that a good approach?). If the dog is picked at that point, Awesome! (what's considered too old BTW?) If not, I figure I'll have a good activity with my new furry buddy anyways and that shouldn't prevent me from doing SAR work on my own in any case.
Tracking is usually a fine start but I would talk with the team. You have plenty of time for the summer after you talk with them. Generally, under 2 is great but we have allowed as old as 3 or 4, typically there it is a first dog for someone and we know they will probably either quit or follow with a second. For team members around 6 months or so is good for starting. WE work with puppies etc....realizing the obvious risks that the pup may have a future problem (pups a gamble)
Depending on the team there may be a wait before they will evaluate a puppy or dog. Something to consider. Also, being on a team may help you verify your selection. We like to work with teammates when they look for new dogs and puppies.
Absolutely nothing to do with SAR, just wanted to say that I am originally from Ste-
Foy, did Army Cadets, Corps the Cadet 2600, affiliated with the Vandoos, did many a summer camp in Valcartier, and was Armed Forces for 10 years afterwards. (Navy and Airforce - much too lazy to try infantry, and women were not allowed in combat arm trades back then - giving away my age, here).
Welcome to the Board, glad to have you here!
Vandoos , that is a Canadian military outfit known for its courageous soldiers -- .
I wonder if the person told you that SAR was not a hobby and if you approached a group with even a hint of hobby thinking they would not take you on . The first year is your trial by fire . Whatever they ask , no matter how remote the location , the number of times per week, they want to see if you are dedicated. Long before a dog comes into the picture.
You can't do SAR by yourself , but you can do Tracking Dog , Tracking Dog Excellent, Urban Tracking Dog , Urban Tracking Dog Excellent and trial and get titles. There is the new Nose sport , which looks really interesting . Schutzhund FH .
Here is a blog site that belongs to Ontario Northern CanKC tracking rep who has two dogs Trust and Blast both with the highest levels for tracking titles Urban Track Dog Excellent . If you go through her blog you will see all sorts of training advice complete with track analysis and dog track analysis - any surface any weather any distraction.
She can also tell you what clubs there may be in your location , and trials. There is even something to learn in joining one of these clubs to be a track layer -- anything to understand what your requirements and the dogs requirements will be.
If you are certifying in Ontario the dogs will be certified by OPP , (provincial police) and the standards are set out by RCMP .
I think you have a healthy attitude towards your potential dog getting picked for the team. I have a similar attitude with my guy who recently washed out of SAR training--it was disappointing of course, but hey, he's got a great foundation for sport scent work and I know he's totally trustworthy off-leash in wilderness situations and he got a lot of camping experience to boot during his stint as a SAR-dog-in-training, so he's like the perfect dog for my non-SAR hobbies. ;) Apparently it's a bit unusual (at least in my team's experience, from comments that have been made to me) for people to come into it with such a realistic attitude about their dogs, and many people take it personally if their dog is not considered right for SAR. So that's great. :)
Otherwise, I'd second jocoyn's advice totally. I'd talk to your team before you get a dog, but your plan doesn't have any inherent problems from what I see. Your team may prefer to work with the pup from the ground up (my team does that as well, even though technically dogs have to be 6 months old to be evaluated for membership, but young pups are still welcome at trainings and the team works with socializing and laying a foundation for future training on them), or they may prefer older dogs. Even if it's the latter, though, most will probably be happy to help you select a puppy that is as likely as possible to be a successful SAR dog. My team has a puppy suitability test and everything, although as jocoyn said we are always very aware that young pups are a gamble--it's just a means to hopefully reduce the chances that the pup will grow up to not be suitable for the work.
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