It is a huge mental strain when analyzing a SAR k9 handler role. As a ground pounder you are responsible for your own abilities and can rely on fellow ground pounders consensus that an area is covered and nothing missed. As a K9 handler, you take sole responsibility for yourself of course, but also the dog who may be highly instrumental in driving how the search goes.. Keeping up the training of oneself is one thing, but to do it for another species, even one we know and love so much is truly another mental pressure, besides time, money, and physical exertion.. Also, (absolutely no disrespect meant for LE as I appreciate all they do, but making a point might seem like I'm belittling an aspect of their work and I am not) when SAR is called upon, it is sporadic, often having large gaps in between sudden bunches. LE is on the road most everyday keeping their skills honed and proving themselves, learning from the many opportunities presented. For SAR, it is learn on the job quite often with each experience being the 'new' one.
This also can be mentally taxing, so when I say that thank you for service to gsdsar and Nancy, I mean it with all my heart. Twenty years of service is a long time for any thing, especially a costly volunteer service that demands so much out of you, your family, finances and of course the dogs. Still, any decision made must be a knife to the heart. I know it is a part of who I am in every way. And while only a few years into my 'career' as a professional volunteer K9 handler, I know how it would hit me if/when I am faced with such a decision. Still, both of you have tremendous experience and knowledge to share and help others just getting started, allowing for less emotional wear and tear, and certainly less physical punishment