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Dogs Tally Holly Nut Misty Sam

Paul and Holly, Des and Misty, Lee and Bracken, Paul and Skye, John and N.U.T.

The 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 areas efficiently.

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.

To 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 the ground.

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.

January 2007 - Skye makes the Grade

February 2006 - Outstanding success for three search dogs



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CHARITY REG NO: 508877                                   PRESIDENT: THE HON HARRY VANE