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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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All teams are different too. We have a three month no dog probation policy but will evaluate before then.
 

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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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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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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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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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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.

dog27 said:
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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Discussion Starter #11
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?
Thanks. I've already checked out the website way beforehand. That's how I found them. :) I'm the type who always does my research before I spend the time actually trying it. I was just wondering if there was a "basic set" of questions that I should have been asking.

Anyway, the meeting was interesting. They went over their agenda and reviewed their recent call-outs, training schedules, etc. There's probably ~25 people in the team. I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person there; that was a little intimidating. :wild: But everybody was really friendly and nice; they were like a big family. They invited my friend and I to their technical training this Saturday just to see what it's like and maybe pick up a thing or two. I'll probably go to a couple more training sessions before I make a decision on joining the team.
 

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I'm pretty sure I was the youngest person there; that was a little intimidating. :wild: But everybody was really friendly and nice; they were like a big family.
I am the only person in their 20s on my team (I'm 28). There are 2 people in their 30s, and the rest (10+) are in their late 40s/early 50s at least.

I think a lot has to do with time and disposable income. K9 SAR is a big time commitment (far more than the ground-pounder and technical teams in my area, just because of the time the dogs require), and it is extremely expensive to purchase and maintain a working dog, on top of the standard SAR costs (equipment, time off work, etc. which is all pretty pricey overall). It's hard to do when you're establishing yourself in your career, and it's even harder to do when you're raising a family, etc.

It really doesn't matter though, they're all really cool people and we have plenty to relate with each other on. :)
 

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Yeah I'm only 23. My friend who went with me is 28. Maybe one other person looked like she was in her 20's. Handful of 30's, 40's and most everyone else looked to be 50+. I'm sure it's as you say; it's hard to commit that much time when you're young. Hopefully I can work it out.
 

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I know I had to wait until my 40s when my kids were older and I actually had *some* disposable income. ......... Soak up what you can. Most of the older folks like having the young ones come in. A lot of us are trying to ensure a solid foundation remains for when we can't do it. I figure I may get one more dog after Beau and then I will just be auxiliary and the "map lady/radio lady" [I am 57]. You guys are the future.
 

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Well I'm not a typical 23 year old. I don't go to the bars/clubs or do anything really. I have a nice, quiet, boring life. Other then work and taking the dogs out I really don't go out very much. I'm slowly working on learning how to code ebooks too so I can join my friend's business and work from home. Then I'll have a pretty flexible schedule, which will be nice. :)
 

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Thats a good kind of job if it will pay the bills - AND - the SAR stuff. I gotta tell you for work I had to do a study where we put a bunch of temperature loggers on boxes transported from Tucson and Phoenix to LA and -wow - you guys like it HOT. "but it's a dry heat, right?!" :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I hate Tucson's heat! The summers are absolutely miserable; I thought I was going to die my first summer here, lol. And it's only dry when it's not monsoon season which starts from about the end of July and ends halfway through September! I miss my SoCal weather, that's for sure. Mmm wet and sticky and HOT. So not fun. But from October-May it's very nice here. Phoenix has worse summers then Tucson... concrete & asphalt heaven up there.

The ebook business is actually pretty good. Right now I have a roommate so monthly expenses aren't too bad so I think it will be okay, but it will be a month or two yet until I actually start. My friend who owns the business is one of those writer types... never very punctual, so training is slow going. :wild:
 

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We ran the study in July and August. SW Texas can be hotter but we don't do business there so Phoenix was, after much analysis of climactic data, considered to the the hottest test area in the country....actually I recall Tucson was cooler than Phoenix but Nogales was worse than either of them.
 

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Well I'm not a typical 23 year old. I don't go to the bars/clubs or do anything really. I have a nice, quiet, boring life. Other then work and taking the dogs out I really don't go out very much. I'm slowly working on learning how to code ebooks too so I can join my friend's business and work from home. Then I'll have a pretty flexible schedule, which will be nice. :)
Yep, that's the key. :) I'm a bit more social than you maybe--my boyfriend and I usually go out Fridays and Saturdays, and occasionally during the week, but I have a really flexible job. During the winters I make most of my income as a freelance writer/editor so incredibly flexible (and also why I post online so much this time of year LOL), and during the other 9 months of the year I train horses for a small breeding farm (it's in the mountains with no indoor arena, hence my 2-3 months more-or-less off every year ;)) whose owners totally support my SAR involvement and are happy to give me time off whenever I need, except for horse show weekends which in our breed/region are only 4-5 weekends a year. Otherwise, I can take any time I need off for training and call outs. I also don't have kids and don't plan for them. That's really the only thing that allows me to do it at my age.

I'm a nutter, though, because I love the heat. My boyfriend's father lives in Phoenix and we've been there to visit a few times during the summer, and I think it's lovely. Hot hot summer days with nice cool mountains to retreat to is my idea of heaven, hence why I live in Albuquerque. ;)
 
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