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Hi! I'm Hunter. I'm a Search and Rescue Dog - SAR Dog for short. My job is to find people who are lost - that's not easy to do.
It takes a lot of special training to be a SAR Dog. Not just any dog can join in the search. We have to train with our handlers for a long time. Sometimes it can take almost two years of training before we can join in a search and rescue. I started my training when I was just 8 weeks old.
For starters, every SAR Dog has to be a Canine Good Citizen. That means we have to be obedient at all times and must get along with other dogs, handlers and people we meet like in the picture - Uffda is making a new friend.
We even have to be good to other critters! That's just a part of it. There's much more to search and rescue than just being friendly.
SAR Dogs must stay in good shape to climb, run and jump. I was taught how to retrieve things for my handler, even in water. I had to learn how to stay in cars and vans for a long time with people and other dogs. Most of all, I learned to search properly by using my nose and how to alert my handler when I picked up a scent.
There is special search and rescue training, too. As you can see in the pictures, SAR Dogs learn skills like climbing uneven surfaces, balancing, not being afraid of high places, following our handler's directions through obstacles and learning how to be carried in case we get injured on a search. We never know where we will have to go during a search, so we have to be prepared for any challenge.
Our training is a lot of work. Bob - he's my owner and handler - and I spent a lot of time training together, even at home. We're taught the skills we need to learn. As we work together we quickly become a team. We learn our commands, practice our search skills and become as one in our work. We learn to read each other's signals so we can communicate as a team. When a dog and the handler follow their training and always do the right things, they can be good enough to be trusted going on a real mission.
Finally, after lots of hard work and training with the team, I learned my skills and became an official SAR Dog. With the help of my handler, I earned an official team badge. JCSDA calls it an accountability tag. I had what it takes to become a SAR Dog and now I'm part of the Search and Rescue Team.