Mar 28 2012
This weekend, team member Steve Nelson and his dog Boris gained the SARDA grading of Novice Search dog, here follows an account by Steve of the journey to this point.
As I followed Boris round the corner of the Boathouse at the side of Llyn Padarn and I saw the feet of Dog’s Body Ray, I realised we had reached the end of a journey that Boris and I had started three years earlier as a trainee handler and excited pup, to become a Mountain Rescue Trailing Search Dog Team.
Boris and I began our training with SARDA England’s Puppy Class and what was learnt there was invaluable in our future training. Unfortunately Boris was a slow maturing dog and didn’t develop his obedience skills at the pace that was required and his days with SARDA England ended.
We returned to local training with Bolton, and under the supervision of Dave Marsh (former SARDA handler and NSARDA Secretary), who felt Boris a German Shorthaired Pointer, a gun dog breed, may have an aptitude for trailing, a trailing dog can follow the scent of a specific person from the point they were last seen.
We were introduced to Iain Nicholson of BPMRT and SARDA Wales, a very experienced trailing dog handler, and with his help an introduction to SARDA Wales followed. At that time SARDA Wales were the only association with the skills and knowledge able to train and grade trailing dogs for mountain rescue.
The first six months involved monthly trips to the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia, where I ‘bodied’; which allows the prospective handler to experience what is required of a handler and dog, learn a great deal about how the dogs train and how the wind and terrain affects scents and to decide whether being a SARDA Handler was for me.
Once bodying was complete, Boris was required to complete an obedience and stock test and then the real hard work began.
For the next 12 months we were required to complete a number of training stages, each to be passed prior to our Assessment – a four hour old trial of over 800m with junctions and false scents. We sat at the shore of Llyn Padarn at the end of a 1km trail, taking in 8 junctions and after 25mins of trailing – Novice Assessment complete.
Boris and I now join the call-out list for SARDA Wales and continue our training. Next year the time and trail length increases to 24 hours and 1.5km.
At this point I would like to thank SARDA Wales for giving us this opportunity; all the handlers, bodies and assessors as without your help we couldn’t have got this far.
Also see news articles dated 23rd and 25th March 2012.