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I would like to get into this because I have 3 german shepherds and 2 of them I think would love doing this type of activity. I just don't know where and how to start. Can someone point me in the right direction?
 

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It might help if folks knew where in OK. you are. (Or at least the nearest major city.)

You can also Google things like, Oklahoma SAR, Oklahoma Search and Rescue, Search dogs, ect...

Good luck.
 

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The best thing to do is to find a group or more in your area and see if you can attend some of their trainings. Volunteering to be a 'victim' (aka hiding for the dogs) is always appreciated and also gives you an idea of what is needed to train for SAR.

We have people who are interested and volunteer for one or two trainings who then lose interest. Doing this kind of work does involve long days in the rain, sun, snow etc training your dog and helping train your teammates dogs. It can get tedious--even when you love it!

Ask lots of questions. Hopefully you can also bring your dogs out to have them evaluated by the group. Ask before you bring the dogs out, because it will be a long day in the truck if there is no time for evals.

SAR is also about you as a handler--you will need to learn map and compass skills and be fit enough to hike through different terrain for hours.

Good luck!!
 

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Just a few words. SAR is not something to do with your dogs, the dream scenario is to join a team with your dog, but 9 out of 10 times it doesn't happens, so do not build to much illusions about. Dogs can love SAR (and SAR dogs love their job) but they can enjoy practically any activity in wich they make lots of exercise, get stimulated and spend a lot of time with you. That's because it's very, very important for you to know first if you really LOVE S&R.

And don't say later I didn't warn you... We SAR people are a bit obsessive (just like our dogs)
 

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This questionnaire is available in many SAR groups sites and I find it very helpful. I even translated it for my own team.

Quote:Interested in volunteering as a Search and Rescue team member?

o Am I willing to spend one or two years training twice a week before my dog and I are ready to participate in a search?

o Am I willing to continue training twice a week (several hours to a full day each time) indefinitely?

o Can I drive long distances once a week for group training?

o Am I physically and mentally prepared to spend long hours out in the worst weather, often at night, searching through difficult terrain perhaps carrying victims out several miles on a stretcher?

o Is my job flexible enough to allow me to leave for a search occasionally?

o Can I afford several thousand dollars for search equipment, gas, training courses, etc?

o Will I get up at 3:00 am for a search?

o Am I mentally prepared to discover a deceased victim? Am I prepared to reward my dog happily when he/she leads me to a deceased person?

o Will I accept the judgment of a training officer concerning my own abilities and my dog's and take direction concerning my training methods?

o Can I gracefully take orders from team leaders, search dog officers, and search managers, even when my opinions differ from theirs?

o Am I prepared to take responsibility for my own progress, and show initiative in developing my own skills?

Is my dog cut out for search work?

o Is he/she of an appropriate breed and age?

o Does he/she have a rock solid temperament: outgoing, calm, confident and non-aggressive (What about children? Other animals?)

o Is he/she in excellent health?

o Is he/she closely bonded to me (does he/she prefer my company to any other activity)?

o Is he/she a well-mannered, obedient dog?

o Am I willing to expose him/her to a certain level of shared risk?

o Am I willing to acquire a new puppy specifically for search work and train for several years?

o Am I the kind of dog trainer who is willing to give up control and trust my dog when he/she tells me something that I think is incorrect?

o Sometimes an older dog takes to searching, but the training is much more difficult and time-consuming. The working life of the dog is much shorter, of course. The best results are usually obtained when a pup is selected using puppy testing with searching in mind, and trained from the time he/she is seven or eight weeks old. Remember, the individual dog must have the determination and drive to search coupled with a completely stable and gentle temperament with both people and animals. This can be a rare combination and you must be realistic about your own dog. Some of the most successful dog handlers began training in canine search work before they have a dog
 

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If you don't mind sore muscles, tired back, lousy coffee, empty wallet, chiggers, removing ticks from you and sometimes the dog, no weekend, call outs when its freezing, raining, hot as ****, midnight, then we are the people for you!
Also keep in mind that SAR commitment should be based on much more than the fact that the dogs may enjoy it and have the drive for it. That is not to knock what you are considering but go into it with an open mind and considering all of the factors in considering SAR as a second career. I do not consider it volunteering because only us crazy people would put this much effort into doing this for free!
Go out and work with a unit for a few weekends, see what its all about. i wish you the best of luck.
 
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