Handlers permanency - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Valdivia, Chile
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Handlers permanency

I would like to know how much time the average handler is a member of your teams.

We have the following problem. When people entered with their own dogs, in the rare case the dog works out in SAR, the owner would be one, maybe two years and then leave the group, taking the dog (and all the work invested on it) with him or her.

Then the directory decided that the dogs must be property of the team itself, specially because we received donations, and the people donating those dogs or pups did it wanting them to be SAR dogs, not someone's pet. The problem is that handlers are not enough time on the team to complete the process and I feel bad for the dogs going from hand to hand, from home to home.

I raised a dog, Auca, who was the first dog donated to the team, but when I left Santiago the Directory gave me the chance to decide if I wanted to keep her or to leave her in the team working with another handler. I had known she would have had four different handlers since then, one of which lost her and she was found a few weeks later pregnant... surely I'd have taken a different decision, but I just have to hope things happen for a reason. I still feel sorry for her, for having to endure that and for being now in the hands of someone who care for her, but has not the skills enough to take her to her best.

And then in 2010 I raised a litter a breeder donated to the team and we kept 4 pups from it. Of those one has been ruled out and from the other three, none is with her original handler, living with the second or third at less than 2 years old.

I really don't know how to approach that problem, our team is young, and the members are young too, life gets in the middle between us and our passion (take me as the best example). My problem is the dogs and how to achieve efficiency, that is getting the best certified dogs in the less time frame, without compromising the welfare of the dogs. Right now I only know that I don't like how things are being done but I don't have a solution to suggest either.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 05:09 PM
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Usually the only folks we have had leave the team leave because their dogs did not work out. We have only had one who certified a dog leave but that was because she was moving. We had a couple leave the team when we got more agressive with setting deadlines for certification.

Most of our members are in their 30s and older, though two of our most involved members (twins) were in their teens when they joined, signed up for the USAF, moved to CA and joined CARDA and ceritified there, had a find and that same one is now being sent to England and plans on buying her next dog and working there.

Our members do own their dogs - but the two things that seem to be helping us raise the bar is that the officers (and some other experienced members) have to evaluate a dog before it can come to training and we use the FEMA Evaluation (or PAWS if it is a puppy) and any dog over one year of age has one year to be certified at the basic level or be washed. You are also washed for not meeting attendance.

7 of our 15 members have more than 6 years.
6 have more than 3 years
The rest are 3 months to 2 years


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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-24-2012, 06:02 AM
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In the end, it's the difference between being committed and just wanting to "try" SAR. In state TF's, the dogs are owned by FEMA. The time, training and the dog itself are expensive. It takes a committed person to be endure the training rigors, not to mention the emotional and physical trauma encountered during an actual deployment.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-24-2012, 12:30 PM
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In our Team, the dogs are owned by the individual person. We have three commited dog handlers that meet up as much as they can. I don't know what the future holds for me. I'm probably leaving eventually since my husband is in the military and I thought about donating Indra to the team, since the team doesn't have an operational dog and we are close to certifying but then again, I put the money and training into that dog, not the team. We pay everything out of pocket.

There is only one handler I'd give her to. She's my best friend and Indra loves her to death.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-24-2012, 01:29 PM
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In my SAR team and the TF I am on, we own our own dogs.

On my SAR team we have one member that has been there for 20+ years, the rest (8 people) 5 and more years. I am one of the newest members with 2 years in.

There is a difference between people seeing this as "something to do" and the die-hards that realize the importance of what we do, and are willing to put the time and effort in.
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