Paul and Holly, Des and Misty, Lee and Bracken, Paul and Skye, John and N.U.T.
Team has a number of search dogs either fully trained or in training at any time.
The dogs and their handlers are part of the Search
And Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) and provide an invaluable resource to
not just TWSMRT but to any Team that requires their assistance. SARDA Dogs like
ours undergo a long and very tough training and assessment programme, and can
increase dramatically the effectiveness of a search as well as covering large
All of the search dog handlers are volunteers with the
Team. In order to train a search dog the handlers and the dogs join SARDA. This
is a national body which sets very high standards for its dogs and handlers to
reach before they are allowed to search alongside mountain rescue teams.
become fully qualified canine members the dogs must pass an intensive assessment
weekend in the Lake District. At this stage the dogs are usually around two years
old and have been in training with their handlers for between 12 and 18 months.
This training begins with basic obedience followed by games of hide and seek.
During this time all of the dogs undergo a "stock test" to ensure they
would not be interested in sheep or other farm animals while out searching. The
hide and seek games develop into finding a person and then returning to the handler
to indicate their success. This builds up from a 30 second game to a 1-2 hour
search in all weather and at any time of the day or night. The difference between
mountain rescue search dogs and other search dogs is that mountain dogs search
for a human air scent where other dogs tend to track an individual's scent along
To get a dog graded requires tremendous dedication. To
put it in perspective, in December 2005 there were only 4 graded search dogs available
from Mountain Rescue Teams to cover the North East from the Scottish border to
Yorkshire. Due to the efforts of our dog handlers and their dogs the Teesdale
Team now has 50% of the search dogs available in the region. Search dogs have
proved their worth on numerous occasions over the years and often found missing
persons not only on the fells but in the semi-urban areas surrounding our towns
and villages. They will be a great asset not only to our Team but to all the rescue
teams in the North East and beyond.
2007 - Skye makes the Grade
2006 - Outstanding success for three search dogs
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