Scent Dog News - June 2017 The Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta

SAR Dog Vala

Slave Lake Mock Search

Search & Rescue Alberta’s Annual General Meeting 2017 Trip Report

Location: Slave Lake, Alberta

Date: April 28-30

Hosted by: Lesser Slave Lake Search & Rescue

We had three Active Level, Live-find dog teams and five field techs participate in various workshops on the Friday and the mock search exercise on Saturday. Both days were very well organized and well attended by SAR teams from across the province. It was good to see the Edmonton Police Service Search Managers attend the two days of activities and put their Search Manager skills to work. Local RCMP members were also involved in the mock exercise working side by side with EPS members in the field.

Things of note on the Friday and Saturday were:

- Despite the multitude of teams involved, every team was tasked to an incident, and if your team’s task was completed early they created another incident that had to be dealt with. Even the Command Centre had a medical emergency when Michael Kary fell down the stairs, staged of course, which had to be attended to by the command centre members.

- CSDA Dog Handler, Wade Horton, put on an entertaining demonstration using props to illustrate search dog scent theory. While the demonstration was ongoing the film crew for the event were more focused on SARDAA’s dogs, Vie and Che, who were lying quietly on the side lines with all of the kids!

- We thought we had the plum assignment of being deployed to a person search by helicopter but it landed our team, Steve, Jenna, and Cathy with her search dog Vie, on top of a mountain with tons of snow still in the bush. Other than the snow giving us advantage of being able to do a perimeter/contour search for any sign of missing person’s footprints it was tough moving around in the snow and navigating the steep slopes. Jenna had her first experience in a helicopter so now she can wear her aviation sunglasses with pride.

- I thought a ride in an UTV down the mountain to the staging area would be a good experience for the dog but it was more of hair-raising 6 km trip on a heavily rutted, muddy forestry road that made me feel like I was in a pin ball machine; meanwhile search dog Vie slept on her lap.

- Pam, Cara, and Dave with his search dog Che were on a search when the lost person was found and Pam had to use her first aid skills that she acquired in her career as a paramedic.

- Don and Mark with his search dog Shado worked together for the first time and were happy they didn’t get the helicopter ride up onto the mountain.

For the SAR AGM on the Sunday, Michelle and David represented SARDAA. There were other SARDAA members present representing other teams; Pam and Don for Red Deer County and Cathy for Whitecourt.

Things of note at the AGM were:

-Michelle Limoges, SARDAA’s Secretary/Treasurer: given a special thanks for the work she did to help organize SARScene 2016 by Spence Sample, Commissionaire of the OFC. Well done Michelle!!

-David Kauffman, SARDAA Dog Handler: elected as our new SAR AB Vice President. Way to go Dave!!

- Shane Elder was re-elected as SAR AB President and Michael Kary resigned as SAR AB Training Coordinator.

It is great working with other teams and learning something new about ourselves and our dogs on these mock training exercises. It gives some of our newest members experience in SAR outside of our own teams. The best part of weekend was networking with other members. Getting to know people outside of our regions that we have never or seldom worked with and getting to know the people we have seen on various searches but never had an opportunity to speak with.

Thank you Lesser Slave Lake Search & Rescue for putting on a great event.

Red Deer Training Exercise May 28, 2017

SARDAA members had a great opportunity to work on a new rubble pile to hone their skills in disaster search training.

Disaster Team in Action

Top Row - Biner, Jake, and Vi

Middle Row - Zero, Zane

Bottom Row, Cara awaiting instructions; Cathy, Don and Carlene planning hider locations.

Recent Events at SARDAA

'K9 First Aid' - SARDAA member and vet tech Kate provided our members with K9 First Aid March 12.

'Burger Night' – March 16 – another successful fund raiser featuring 47 silent auction items. All proceeds go to training and equipment continuing to allow SARDAA to provide SAR resources to tasking agencies at no charge.

'Get Ready in the Park' – May 13 – the weather was uncooperative but the crowds came out anyway. Eight dog teams attended and four of our Field Techs.

'St Albert Public Safety Open House'– Eight SARDAA members and brought five SAR dogs including two retirees.

'Free our Finest' supporting the 2017 Special Olympics at Southside Cabela's June 17

Che getting in touch with his wild side


On June 14, 2017, Spence Sample, Fire Commissioner, Office of the Fire Commissioner announced that the successful bidder on the OFC SAR Liaison/System Developer is Mike Cook. Many of you will know Mike from his previous SAR involvement and work as both a Police Officer and Emergency Management Officer with the City of Edmonton. Mike will be with us on a two-year contract to work as the conduit between the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Search and Rescue Community. As the OFC SAR Liaison Officer, he will be working with the SAR community on several critical mandates including, but certainly not limited to:

1. Training and Standards

2. Operational Policies

3. Stakeholder Relations

4. Investigations and after action reviews as may be necessary

5. SAR service area coverage,

6. Grants and Funding

7. D4H program renewal.

Mike Cook, third from the right, new provincial SAR Liaison joined SARDAA members at their June 18 practice. This was Mike's first visit to SAR groups in the province.
David (and Che) chat with Mike Cook at a SARDAA practice session.

Tips from Centre for Disease Control (CDC) for Traveling with Dogs to the United States

This item was taken from the online Canadian Kennel Club newsletter.

If you’re crossing the border with your dog, don’t forget to pack its rabies

vaccination certificate. Think of the

certificate as your pooch’s “passport” to enter the country.

Dogs entering the United States are required to be healthy and have proof of their

rabies vaccination. Make sure to bring the right documents or your dog might not be

able to come home with you.

Five things you need to know:

1. Dogs must be at least 3 months (12 weeks, or 84 days) old to get the rabies

vaccination from a licensed vet.

2. If it’s the first time your dog is getting the rabies vaccination, you must wait 28

days before bringing it into the United States to allow the vaccine to take


3. If you’re not sure or don’t have proof your dog was vaccinated before, have your

dog vaccinated, then wait 28 days before traveling.

4. If your adult dog’s rabies booster is current, you can travel without waiting 28


5. When your dog gets the rabies vaccine, ask the vet to give you the vaccine

certificate. The rabies vaccination certificate must be valid when you’re

bringing your dog into the United States.

A valid rabies vaccination certificate has:

• Name and address of owner

• Breed, sex, age or date of birth (if known), color, markings, and other identifying

information for the dog

• Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information

• Date the vaccination certificate expires

• Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian

Having the right documents for your dog allows you both to enjoy safe and worry-

free travels.

For more information regarding international travel with your pet, please visit the

CDC web site.

Washington State SAR Conference

May 19-21, 2017 at Republic, WA

The WA State SAR Conference moves around the state every year and landed up in this location for 2017.

Republic, Washington was established as a mining and logging town in the late 1800s but is now a popular hunting and fishing community located in north central Washington State between the Wauconda and Sherman Passes, near the Canadian border.

Following four days of pre-conference courses, there were two and a half days of lectures covering a wide variety of SAR-related topics. I concentrated on the K9 track only. I didn’t participate in the K9 pre-conference workshops but I heard they were worthwhile. Some of the speakers were very experienced persons along with a one or two quite new to the field.

Following are bullet points of observations –

 Urban Air Scenting K9s, Chris Terpstra (WA) – not surprisingly the speaker discussed training in various types of urban environments; he discussed types of alerts and the most popular one is the ‘jump’ alert where the dog locates the person, returns to the handler, jumps on the handler and then refinds the subject. I think I’ll stick with the bark alert! Also included was some discussion on ‘scent specific’ air scent and trailing dogs.

 Training for the Lone Handler, Matthew Kozma (WA) – this person is fairly new to SAR dogs and is a member of a large ground SAR group. He and another fellow are the lone dog handlers. Stated that the GSAR group likes having the dogs since dogs attract attention at PR events! Talked about the advantages and disadvantages of being a dog handler on their own. Most were quite obvious such as the lone handler lacks the advantages of a large, financially stable group, lacks mentors, pre-requisites, rules and guidelines, not to mention training. Some philosophies he spoke of but I wouldn’t recommend – “cue often and consistently; limit working blind”.

Building an Evidence Search Dog, Jane and John Aspnes (Alaska). This couple is my vintage and have several decades with scent specific air scent and trailing dogs (Rough Collies). All members in their group are ground SAR trained first and then they move to training their dog in obedience and in trailing, followed by air scent and HRD. Certification with this group is earned by consistently demonstrating competency in a skill to team leaders; there is no formal certification test. The Aspnes' have done some research on cold weather searching but did not elaborate much except to say it is certainly possible for the dogs to locate humans and articles in the very cold…don’t we know it!

 Professionalism & Ethics in K9 Testing, Janet Yatchak (ID) Many US K9 teams use organizations such as IPWADA, NAPWADA, NSDA, SARDUS etc. as testing bodies. This was a discussion about the testing ethics of the various organizations in the US. Evidently, there are many issues with these organizations and the fairness of their testing processes. Janet urged the audience to make themselves aware of the test criteria, to verify guidelines are followed by evaluators, to insist on test sheets being filled out, and to report any unprofessional activity to the organization’s governing body. They also pointed out that these tests are demonstrations of performance and not a certification.

 Line Handling for Tracking/Trailing, Rachel Yelle (WA) – I attended this session just to see if she had any tips for line handling. Since we only use long lines for tracking, the instruction she gave was interesting but might not be too useful for our group. She did have some tips about types of lines to use and some tips on negotiating obstacles in urban tracking scenarios.

 K9 Round Table - interesting gathering of WA State K9 handlers. They were there to discuss putting forward legislation so they can have access to body parts for training, such as they do in Colorado. They were also gathered to discuss a unified set of Standards for the State (sound familiar?).

 On Saturday there were two sessions running concurrently and I wished I had a clone so I could attend both! So I missed the Tracking & Trailing Basics run by a US Border Patrol officer.

 How to Train for K9 Water Search Certification Janet and John Yatchak (ID) – discussed how to know when you are ready to test water search, i.e., when training exceeds test criteria, when you are confident of your dog’s capabilities, and when you are getting consistent results. Discussed the parameters used by different testing organizations. They stated that their certifications are specific to the type of water – lake, stream, river, swift water, salt water – so each water type requires a separate certification. We then compared notes with the group on water search experiences. The presentation centered on testing parameters of various US organizations and so didn’t particularly apply to SARDAA.

 HRD Basics, US Border Patrol officers – it was interesting to learn how the Border Patrol sources their dogs and how the training is started. The Border Patrol sources their dogs from vendors who present the K9 candidates at least one year of age and partly trained. They use scent tubes as toys and insert cotton balls saturated with scent (the balls do not actually touch the scent source). They use – blood, tissue, adiopocere and bone. Bone is taught separately. They teach the dogs that the odour = toy. They described the drives needed – hunt, retrieve, air scent and prey. He described the drills they do with scent walls and the like to build drive in the dogs. They deprive the dogs of any play unless working; they figure out what the dog’s favorite toy is and then only use it as a reward for work. They did not go into how they teach their alert which is a sit.

 The Border Patrol officers also held an impromptu session on how they select pups; this was particularly interesting since SARDAA has for a long time screened all dogs coming onto our team. This concept is not well acknowledged in the US it seems; several teams approached me afterward about what we do since I spoke up and said we have been doing aptitude evaluations for many years. The officers said they were particularly interested in prey drive and hunt drive and paid attention to what type of toy the dog really gets excited about. An interesting test they use is called the water/food conflict test where the dog is teased with the toy and then the toy is thrown past a bowl of food or water… they want to see if the dog will go after the toy or stop for the food/water. They prefer to see the dog ignore the food/water but if the dog stops, eats the food or drinks the water and then goes after the toy, that’s OK. They also do an umbrella test that is common in some breed character tests, gunfire, crowd test where the dog is on leash and surrounded by a crowd to see if they are nervous.

 Peer Coaching Model for SAR K9, Elshult and Mansfield (WA) – this was a very good session by a group who has been around the block a bit (Snohomish County SAR near Seattle). They evolved from a group with a benevolent leader to a much more democratic and organized unit. They believe in policies and processes and in educating the members on the culture and values of the group. Training is very organized and they expect handlers to have objectives at each training session. They also have ‘field support’ members and really liked our term of Field Tech. They do a lot just like SARDAA does!

 SAR Coordinator Perspective on Managing K9 Teams, Deputy Thad Schultz, SAR coordinator for Spokane County – he stated that his presentation was really for SAR managers even if there were not many in the room. He never did give his opinion on how best to deploy search dogs… He did tell the SAR K9 groups that they need to have standards and to make sure that their local SAR managers know their capabilities. He suggested having the SAR managers come to the K9 group’s training sessions in order to become familiar with the teams capabilities. He feels that SAR managers should know their teams and should work with them in planning search incident approaches. They must have had some experience with this because he warned SAR managers against giving searchers too much information that would be mis-cues and bad information that might influence how searchers would search. It is very important that handlers not overstate their capabilities. He strongly recommended that teams be, and appear to be, Professional. This is very important – neat, clean uniforms and dogs plus professional conduct at all times. He also suggested using reality-based training and to do lots of negative searches since that reflects what happens on actual incidents. Interestingly, he said that he sees nothing wrong with working a dog on a short problem before staring your search, i.e., quick person find or HR search. Another interesting thing he pointed out was to NOT allow the team dogs to play together at a practice; this is work time, not play time! The Deputy also talked a bit about the fact that his SAR K9 group has begun to evaluate new dogs for drive; I piped up and said SARDAA has been doing that for a long time and we have a well developed process that we are willing to share.

 Scent Theory, Roy and JoMay Pescador (MT) – this was a good presentation although the information was familiar. They covered the properties of scent, sources, what affects the movement of scent and how scent typically moves around and suggestions on how to place the dog in the best place to catch scent. One thing they did not cover was what to do when there is no wind! There was an interesting discussion of search strategy with examples of search terrain that is quite different from what we typically encounter in Alberta.

 Skills Needed for K9 Field Support, Intermountain Search Dogs (Spokane, WA) This was an interesting presentation because the skills they use are so similar to SARDAA’s. We should be very proud of the fact that we have in place the Field Tech program that we do; it is right up there with the best. The presenters said that the field support people help plan searches and have the job of being a ‘guard rail’ to keep handlers straight and safe; they also act as another pair of eyes on the dog. They also have people who join without dogs.

 Other – many train multi-purpose dogs in the USA. Almost all the teams train several profiles, i.e. - general air scent and scent specific air scent, HRD, water search, scent specific tracking/trailing. Many use the jump alert; many have scent-specific trailing capability; some train scent specific article search. Some train scent-specific first, others do it the other way around! Scent survey or scent inventory – this is where the dog is given the opportunity to identify people involved in the search prior to beginning their search or track.

Central Conference Meeting Area
Classroom (Sasquatch in training)

Past Members

Thanks and farewell to past members of SARDAA.

Al, Pete, Becky, and Morgan

Member News

Welcome to New Members:

Field Techs in training - Miles from Morinville, and Chelsea from Champion, Alberta

New Field Tech member - Miles

Dog Handlers in training - Carla and Roo from Goodlow, BC; Jenna and Sohke from Red Deer; Nathan and Finnigan from Edmonton; Karin and Koko from Saskatchewan; John and Layka from Saskatchewan.

Sorry we don't have photos of all the new members but see below for those we do have -

Carla and Roo
John and Layka
Nathan and Finnigan

Congratulations to New Associate Member:

Jenna and Ivy

Congratulations to New Active Field Tech:


GOTTA 2006-2017

I received this funny long nosed German shepherd at 8 weeks of age in 2006. I say funny as he had the longest nose I had ever seen on German shepherd puppy. This was a curious pup and I almost never kept him as I wasn’t convinced he was actually purebred with exceptional long legs to match the nose with a deep, deep chest, he looked more like a greyhound.

Gotta was the name chosen for this funny looking pup. As I felt that he was going to be a go getter.

Gotta showed me from the get go that he was a thinker. You could almost see the marbles rolling around in his head as he thought out problems. When we went for walks he always thought he knew the way and would try to direct me in the way we went the last 2 times. And would stand expectantly if

I changed the route.

When trouble arose in the house whether it was him in trouble or another dog he would hide himself under a chair to avoid the situation. When he was too large he would just tuck hide his head under the chair. Somewhat like an ostrich, he couldn’t see you so then you couldn’t see him. Gotta, from the very start, would put himself to bed. From 9

weeks by opening his crate door on his own, of course using his long nose until his 10th year where he would decide he had enough and go down to his bed in the basement.

Gotta was an impatient dog as he wanted things now, such as his rewards when he has done a good job. He also thought for a good 5 years that he was not to be disciplined; well we know how that played out.

While Gotta was a big dog he was cat like at times. He would pounce on his toy or rubbed up against you when being affectionate. Again, funny boy.

Yet with this funny dog he was to be a working dog and he learned his lessons quickly.

Gotta received his TD (CKC Tracking Dog Title) at 6 months in the fall of 2006 and his TDX title the following year.

That funny long nosed puppy turned into a mature handsome dog who was also my constant companion.

While Gotta never located his live missing person, he had success indirectly on the some of his searches. His claim to fame was how well he searched on water and gave booming barks that could be heard everywhere.

In 2007 he also earned certification in his first search profile of human remains detection dog at 1 1/2 yrs old. The next year he obtained his certification to look for live humans in wilderness/urban search. In 2008 he was certified in water search. This was unusual for such a young dog to be certified first so young in a difficult search profile but to be certified in that many profiles was exceptional.

Gotta was always willing to get a job done.

He contributed many years aiding SARDAA to locate the lost or missing person.

With his mature gentle way, always friendly and always ready to accept a treat,

Gotta will be greatly missed.

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