Skye is a Border Collie and Search & Rescue Dog with SARDA Wales. I have had her since she was 7 weeks old and have trained her specifically for Search & Rescue since I got her. I am a self employed Mountaineering Instructor and member of Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and she often comes to work with me during the day. You can find links to the various teams and to below.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mountain Search Dog Assessment

Skye and I have been running around the mountains of Snowdonia this weekend whilst being assessed by SARDA Wales as a Novice Mountain Search Dog team. It has been really hot which is lovely for most things but a bit warm for a search dog that still has her winter coat on! Nonetheless we searched 4 areas and found all of the hidden bodies in each area and got the result we were looking for - we are now qualified for mountain searches which is great news! We have also had a busy weekend with the Llanberis team, read more on our team Facebook page. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Skye Qualifies as a Search Dog

This weekend Skye and I were being assessed as a Search Dog team with SARDA Wales in the autumn assessment.

The assessment took place in Snowdonia over 3 days and I am very pleased to say that we both passed. Each dog and handler has to search 5 areas over 3 days. The areas varied from forest search to open hillside and each one was different. In each area was hidden a number of bodies, we did not know how many until we had searched it and obviously we did not know where they were hidden either! If we missed a body, missed any part of the area from our search or if the dog failed to indicate a find then we would have failed that area. We had to pass four of the five areas to qualify. This first assessment is made of lowland areas and we are now qualified to join call outs to lowland/rural areas. The next level of training and assessment is Mountain Searches which is what we are working towards now! 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Helicopter Training with the Dogs at RAF Valley

Skye and I have spent the weekend with SARDA Wales at RAF Valley for our annual helicopter training. The weather yesterday was stunning and we spent the day getting the dogs used to the aircraft. First off winching harnesses were fitted and then the dogs were shown in and around a stationary Sea King with all of the engines and rotors switched off. Fun was had jumping in and out of the rear door and up and down the front steps! We then repeated the exercise with the engine on and then again with the rotors on. Next we progressed to winching the dog and handler whilst the aircraft was on the ground and repeated this with the aircraft in a hover. The dogs and handlers and SARDA bodies were all then given a flight out across the bay where Skye was happy to fall asleep as I enjoyed the views.

This morning we searched a couple of small areas with several bodies in unknown locations and Skye enjoyed herself, back in her element after yesterdays excitement! Many thanks to all involved in organising the weekend, especially Biffa and Kev who worked hard to make the weekend a brilliant success. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Searching Areas

Over the last couple of months Skye has been progressing well in her training. This weekend we were "staged" searching small areas in woodland at the SARDA Wales training weekend. (There are 18 stages through to Lowland Dog Assessment and at each stage the dog and handler have to be assessed by two qualified handlers to make sure they are upto scratch - you can view the training stages here)

We have started our Tuesday night training sessions now the daylight hours have increased and enjoyed a joint exercise with the Coastguard on Tuesday night. This was our first time searching sand dunes and they were more complicated than I thought they would be! For the next few months the main training focuses on me as the handler, Skye has learnt her bit and now I need to learn mine! 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Searching Areas

I have been away a lot this winter in search of the snow and so Skye has had less training than either of us would have liked. We missed the January training weekend but had a good couple of days in Feb and a great weekend in March with SARDA Wales. We have also been doing a fair bit with my kids and with Emmer from SARDA Wales between official training sessions.

Skye is now searching areas, these started off small with the search taking no longer than a couple of minutes and we have built that up so that at the last training weekend she did a couple of 30 minute area searches. She is like a different dog when the jacket goes on her now, super keen to get to work and is starting to range quite nicely. This means that she will cover the ground away from me and so we can be more efficient in our searching. I now have an understanding of how to direct her where I want her to be in relation to the wind and we are forming a partnership as a search team which is really exciting.

I am also starting to read her body language as she is out on the hill. I can read the difference between whether she has picked up the scent of a person or a sheep or perhaps some discarded food. She is far better at reading me and knows when we are heading out to do some training!

I am looking forward to a spring and summer of work with her so that we can both develop what we are doing and prepare for our first assessment. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Training - the story so far

Since my last post Skye has been doing well with her training and we have now come to the end of her first 12 months of Search Dog training. She is still very puppyish but with that she is extremely keen to work which is brilliant. Over the last few months of SARDA training we have been concentrating on extended run outs and C Searches, getting the find sequence well and truly nailed. This weekend we were staged at C Searches and given lots of help in moving onto searching small areas. This is where I come in as I now have to learn how to efficiently move my dog through the search area, maximising the wind. This next stage feels exciting and I look forward to the next 12 months of training!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Training Weekend

Skye and I have been with SARDA Wales this weekend for the May training. We spent both days in the Llanberis Pass under blue skies and sunshine, with a reasonable breeze both days. At the start of the weekend Skye was being cocky and not running all the way into the body when she found it. She would run until she saw the body and then turn back and come and get me. We worked on getting the bodies better hidden and this solved the problem nicely so that by the end of today she was doing run outs and pop ups properly. A great weekend of playing with the dogs in the sunshine.