writer, warrior, whack-a-doodle

SART: Search and Rescue ... a Treat

SART: Search and Rescue ... a Treat

February 5, 2010
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last Sunday was a Search working day for Loki. The trainer set up a bunch of hiding places on a school grounds that included tents, blinds, kiddie pools,  and even dog crates.

We're now in the second level program and prior to this, Loki did fairly well in his first level of search. On the final day of his Level 1 training at the clinic training field he got the second fastest time in all the novice search dogs and he showed to be very methodical and confident. But that was the training field he's familiar with and naturally he's confident in familiar places with familiar equimpment.

As we progressed to new areas in "cold searching" where the person is already hiding in an area the dog's never been to and there's new equipment, Loki has run into a little trouble. He alerts to the target very quickly, but he freaks and runs when he finds the person. The issue with him is not the person itself, because Loki's friendly with strangers, but the context. Finding a person, for example in a garbage can or a dog crate is, well, freaking weird and not something a dog, let alone a person usually experiences. So he gets very nervous and backs away from his target.

On Loki's second search out, one of his favorite people, Christi is hiding for him:

"Oh my dog! I think I found a human she may be holding a treat hostage!"

My trainer Lance instructs me not to go into the target as Loki is still unsure and stressed about going inside. He wants him to work it out for himself rather than me coddling him. So I watch and hope he goes inside.

"Um, mom, I think Christi's here and she's definitely got something delicious. What should I do? I'm so confused. Is it polite to enter without being invited in?"

He sticks his nose half way in and Christi rewards with lots of chicken treats and praise.

"Oh my dog, thank you so much for not keeping those chicken treats hostage! Its such a tragedy to see them kidnapped and hidden!"

Then I'm allowed to go give him praise.



"Mom, I totally rescued that chicken Christi kidnapped!"

On our second search, a new person is hiding in the dog crate far down the field to the left of the photo. I'm instructed to release him in the middle of the field:


"This sure is a neat place mom, but I need more time to scope it out."

It looks like I'm yelling at Loki here, but what I'm actually trying to do is excite drive in him when I give him his command.

"Get your cry-baby butt out there and find the person or no dinner for you!"

Smart boy first goes to and checks the tent he found a person in last:

"Gee I wonder if  there's a chicken hostage holder in here?'

He runs around looking nilly willy and tries to cheat next:

"Am I getting warmer? Give a guy a break and help me out here."

I'm not allowed to help him, but he catches air scent to the person in the crate pretty quickly:

"What the? There's a HUMAN in that thing? No way!"

He goes to the crate to confirm what his nose tells him but as soon as he sees the person he cracks up:

"Holy CRAP! There's a freaking HUMAN in this dog crate? I'm so out of here!"

The trainer has the target person call Loki's name happily and alas he gets over it (sorry about the blur):

"Wait a minute, that person in there knows my name! Must be ok to go see who it is!"

"Mom, get a hold of this werido in a dog crate. Are we in whacka-doo land?"

On our last search we're instructed to use the leash and release the dog from the leash when we believe he has alerted. We're supposed to walk a sqaure within 50 feet around the recycling container and to keep closing in on the container until we think our dog alerts. Our trainer will tell us if we read our dogs correctly and released on time.

This time, Christi is hiding in a recycling container. Man, I hope she gets paid some big bucks to hide in there! Yuck!

I go out with Loki. Notice I'm not heeling him. There's no obedience in Search training. We just let the dogs do their job.

"Hey mom, this is kind of fun. I love rescuing chicken treats!"
"Whatever Retardo. Just don't make me look bad."

Loki alerts really fast, we didn't even turn the first corner and he caught Christi's scent. It looks like I'm holding him back, but I"m trying to release his clasp on his leash to let him go.

"Cheeses Mom! Let me go! I smell a human who may be holding chicken treats hostage! I must go save them NOW!"

Loki quickly ran to the container but again bolted from it, but within a few seconds, he turned around and went back to it deciding it was probably a good idea to check out the human hiding in the trash can. Maybe she had some chicken.

"Mom, why is Christi staying in that can? Does she live there now?'

I'm not sure Loki will ever make a great SAR dog but it sure is fun training him. If he can just get over himself and gain some confidence, he would be very good because he seems to alert really quickly. In the end, Lance tells me I read him correctly.

Well, at least we got that going for us, which is nice. (That line is for Dennis the Vizsla.)

Here are more photos of Search with my Classmates


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24 comments on “SART: Search and Rescue ... a Treat”

  1. It is all in the handler reading the search dog, right? So when Loki goes cracker and runs madly in one direction, look to where the run started and rescue the poor soul.

    P.S. - Having been to many cities, I would run, too, from a crazy person hiding in a recycling bin.

  2. It's funny that the hardest part for Loki is getting over a fear of a person being hidden in a weird place.

    What happens if hide yourself in very weird places around your house or property? Is that a problem for Loki?

    Thanks for telling us about the training. It's fun to learn about it. Aren't their noses amazing?

  3. Wow, that is really neat to see how they train that. I always thought SAR was really neat and such a wonderful thing for you to do with your dog.

  4. Frackin amazing! Dude, the people-in-unfamiliar-place fear is possible to overcome. Time and patience. Your human appears to have the mad skills to help you out!

  5. Wow, so cool to see. Thanks for posting all those pictures with such a great explanation of what you are doing. Fascinating because we would love to give that a try some day too.

  6. Fantastic break down. Thank you. I learned and I understood a lot. Fascinating to me. I understood your reaction, Loki. It's not an easy thing you are called to do. Very impressive. Please keep us updated. I can see you becoming a "killer" searcher/rescuer. Yay!

  7. Some of my dogs would shy away, too., but I have a couple that would race inside with the person and do a happy dance in the the hiding place with them.

  8. Aw man, Loki, woo are my hero for rescuing all those chicken treats held hostage! Way to go, dude!

    a-roos to yous,
    jack a-roo

    That looks like fun!
    ~moo too

  9. What a smart khanine woo are!

    I bet JBJ gives woo POINTERS!

    PeeEssWoo: Khongrats on your Mango Minster 2010 Perfurmance

  10. What brilliant fun!! It's always great to see the different dog sports out there - I would love to try that out with Honey, although I think she'd probably take so long that the person out there would go to sleep waiting!! 🙄


  11. Hey Loki
    I saw that on the news.. chicken hostages. Ha

    Nice work getting those humans to get into containers for you. BTW not only do you make a great CDIT but pointer too.

  12. This is fascinating and something I'd like to learn. Lots of border collies are SAR dogs and I think it would be an exciting job.

    Loki seems like he's made of the Right Stuff. Nice work saving those chicken strips!

    Please consider pawing out your vote for me in the Mango Minster Best in Show contest. I'd love to replace the flat screen with a nice portrait of me!

    Your new pal (who is in awe!)

  13. I know there is not a SAR dog in this house, but you sure are closer than ever to reaching that point.

    Have you looked in to the agility scene in your new neighborhood? Wondering if you'll have access to a local trainer..

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