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Hello, I am considering looking into becoming involved in search and rescue with my dog. I have a new 14 week old German Shepherd puppy and, IF he has the potential, would love to give him a job that would be very rewarding and community supporting. He commons from working lines and has shown some potential in natural tracking drive.

Could anyone give me any tips to what all is involved? Is this not realistic or difficult to participate in? Any advice or input anyone has is appreciated! I am located in Richmond, Va.

Thanks! :smile2:
 

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Well, it is a LOT of hard work and exercise and costs a lot of money. It is rewarding but there is also a lot of frustration and questioning what you got yourself into. If you are prepared to give up most weekends, at least 1-2 nights a week, use your PTO for search callouts, and get eaten up by bugs, sunburned, and wore out, then it might be for you.

To succeed YOU must want to do it so bad that if he does NOT have the potential, you will wind up finding the right dog for the work or figure some other way to serve.

It is easier to find good dogs than good SAR team members. I would contact teams near you (easy enough to search) and inquire about their teams to find out and visit and spend some time with htem. Some welcome new folks with puppies others want you on the team for awhile before they will even look at your dog.

Let us know how it goes.
 

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Nancy is 100% right.. Most teams are willing to welcome you HOWEVER, you can also expect them to lay the realities out in front of you.. It may seem harsh and mean, but the turnover rate is really high, especially for K9 teams as most think it is about training your dog... Which it does BECOME AFTER you get trained ;)... Map, compass, first aid, scent theory, crime scene, gps, ICS, niims, search patterns and team dynamics are the beginnings of becoming mission ready..

Training your dog (which is alot of fun) is alot of work, especially for trailing (I have certified trailing dogs and train both dogs 4-6days a week, every week, rain or shine, snow or sleet, in the heat in the cold, in the day and in the night)..

If this has you even more interested and you don't mind bruises, cuts, blisters, being SAR broke (because it is all volunteer) but still find it interesting, then you are most likely one of the few who will stick it out and become someone's best hope of being found on their worst day of their life... A great trade off for those of us who do this for that reason (and of course the friendship and relationships developed with dogs and teammates)... If you are seeking glory or praise, uh, look elsewhere because it is a team function.. You may spend 48hrs looking and someone who just got off work gets sent into the 'right' area and 20 minutes later finds the person... Your work was no less important then the one who found the person, but you have to be self gratifying and know you did your part... Ya know? :)

Soo, if you aren't scared off yet, definitely look into finding teams in your area and visit with them... Hide for their dogs and observe their interactions and how committed they are to excellence... You want people who are willing to teach but not be dogmatic about 'how it has to be done', as their are many ways to teach the same skill... You want open and committed people who know their job and care about the success of the team and teammates as individuals... There will always be a bit of competition, unfortunately, but if they aren't happy for the success of their teammates then move on, because it is h*** to work on a team that undermines each other...

Once you have a team you like, work hard, learn, work your dog at home because team trainings are just the tip of the iceberg, most of the trainings are solo, or small group.. Have fun though, because as hard as it is it is also immensely rewarding.. If you are the type of person who fits into SAR ;)
 
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