We have all grown up with at least one hero in our life, but
how many people can call their hero Duke or Spot? The answer-
anyone who has had their life saved by a rescue dog.
Whether it is a house fire, tornado rubble, leftovers from an
earthquake, or flowing water behind a hurricane front, these
specially trained rescue dogs rush in with no concerns for their
own welfare, pulling out victims, some dead and some still alive.
They do this time and time again.
With a powerful snout and the ability to smell things a human
may not, rescue dogs are hard-working and very loyal to doing
what is expected of them. And what do they ask for in return? A
hug, a treat or a little one-on-one play time. Not a huge reward,
however for these special dogs, it is very satisfying.
There are different types of breeds who make better rescue
dogs than others. For example, bloodhounds have a talent for
prowess and are known for uncovering criminals. Newfound lands
are good avalanche rescue dogs and Labrador Retrievers are good
cadaver dogs. Any dog can become a rescue dog as long as they can
concentrate on tracking scent, such as German Shepherds, Belgian
Malinois, and Golden Retrievers.
Before being allowed to track, each rescue dog is put through
extensive evaluations. Scent detection training is then started
and their skills are developed through regular sessions. In order
to track, the dog will pick up on the odor of the person's skin
cells that flake off the body. These skin cells float in the air
and hit the ground as a person moves along, and they float to the
surface of the water if the victim has drowned.
The men and women behind these furry heroes are all volunteers
who are fit, enjoy spending time outdoors, and take pride in
training and communicating with their rescue dogs. These men and
women may also belong to rescue teams such as SOSARD or SWOSAR,
who are called out by the police department and may travel
several hours to reach a search site. Along with their rescue dog
they search in all different types of weather and terrain for
lost children, missing fishermen and hunters, accident victims
and injured hikers.
There is yet another type of rescue dog, who can sniff his
trail from the air. Air-scenting rescue dogs work directly and
specifically from aircraft, tracking the air and searching for
victims. These dogs specialize in structural collapses and
drowning victims. Because these air-scenting rescue dogs work on
scent trailing above the ground and away from handlers, they
become very useful in areas that have been contaminated by human
searchers, after it is allowed to be aired out for awhile.
In many survivors' eyes, these furry canines, which make
wonderful family pets, make the best heroes of all!
Eric Shannon is a freelance author who also publishes the
Report, which is a biweekly newsletter with a very large
readership. He also runs Beds For Doggies, which carries a large
selection of Dog Beds, Dog Couches, and
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