On the Eukanuba stand in Hall 3, visitors to dfs Crufts have the chance to meet some truly amazing dogs who work for the Search and Rescue Dog Association Scotland (SARDA).
SARDA is a charity which trains dogs and their handlers to search for missing persons. Staffed by volunteers, the charity works with Mountain Rescue Teams and the police, to locate missing people in the mountains, or low ground areas, including children and people with dementia.
Search dogs can be any breed of dog but they must have excellent scenting ability and be large and strong enough to cope with the physical demands of the job. They start their training from the age of 12 weeks and are introduced to a toy as their reward for successful training exercises.
Training starts with a person running away excitedly with the dog’s toy. The dog follows and, when it finds them, the dog barks for the toy. Throughout this process, the dog learns to associate finding a human with fun and games and getting their ‘reward’.
Paul Martin, from SARDA Scotland, said: “I’ve had my dog, Cairn, a Labrador/Collie cross from 8 weeks old. Cairn is now 11 years old and is an old-hand at search and rescue work. He loves his job and particularly enjoys his toy reward at the end of a search.”
Dogs and representatives from SARDA Scotland will be on the Eukanuba stand on Saturday at 11:30, 13:30 and 15:30 and on Sunday at 11:30 and 15:30.
Photograph shows: L-R Paul Martin, with Cairn, a Labrador Collie cross, and Rupert Bonham, with Lewis, a Large Munsterlander.