Along with my dog Raiza, I’m a member of a voluntary search & rescue organisation, which provides training for rescue on water, search & rescue on debris, forests & buildings, and the detection of human remains.
Raiza is a male flat coated retriever aged 3.5 years old. We train weekly in different locations and various weather conditions in order to teach him how to cope independently with different surroundings, situations and challenges.
In training we cover everything from considering the wind direction behaviours (depending on obstacles) and the nature of the terrain, to scanning the area until a scent is found and following it, ultimately working out how to get there if the location is not easily accessible.
Razia can distinguish victims from other people who are also in the search area. Once he has located a victim, he can indicate in several ways where the victim lies, such as barking or going back to the handler, touching his hand to indicate he found a victim and guiding the handler at a slower pace towards the victim (touch & refind).
Raiza has already had 1.5 years of training but still has a lot to learn before he can be deployed in real life situations. He particularly likes rescues on water, in which he pulls a dummy with a lifebuoy attached to it. Search & rescue work for a dog really does give him a sense of purpose and satisfaction while also being able to help others. It’s just like playing hide and seek with your dog and it strengthens the bond with man’s best friend.
What’s more satisfying than having fun with your dog while training to save someone’s life one day 😊