Help with K9 Search and Rescue training

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Hello North Coast neighbors!

I am a K9 Search and Rescue (SAR) handler and volunteer member of the Tillamook County Search and Rescue team. My dog, Ash, and I are a certified K9 SAR team and we are seeking occasional volunteers to help us with our continued training. Long story short: we need people to play the role of a lost or missing person so Ash can practice following their scent. Each training session requires a total of 1 to 2 hours of your time and there’s no need for an ongoing commitment of any kind. This is a great opportunity for anyone who likes to take a walk and enjoys being around dogs. I’ve also found that it’s rewarding for participants to know that they’re helping a SAR dog with their training!

Here’s a quick 3-step summary of how training works:

1 – The volunteer subject takes a walk (we call this “laying the trail”) in an agreed-upon location; this could be in a wilderness area, a neighborhood, a commercial district — really anywhere it’s safe for the subject to walk. A typical distance for training is anywhere between .5 and 1.5 miles.

2 – We let a predetermined amount of time pass — this could be hours or days — and then we all meet at the start of the walk to commence the training. The subject goes to “the end” of the walk or some agreed-upon spot along the path of their trail and waits to be found.

3 – After smelling a scent article from the subject (typically we have the subject touch a piece of disposable cotton while we’re still together) Ash will work to follow the scent trail and find the subject at the end. Then we all celebrate with treats and lots of hugs and praise (all for the dog 😉

That’s about it! In most cases, it is helpful for the subject to document where they walked so I have that as a reference while working the dog, but I typically figure this out on a case-by-case basis with each subject prior to them laying the trail.

If you’re interested in potentially helping out with training at some point in the near or distant future, please reach out via email, text, or phone call to share your name and general location. We’re happy to work with anyone who resides within roughly a one-hour drive from Manzanita. Once we connect, I will include you on the list of contacts that I engage when scheduling training on a quarterly basis. Reminder, by reaching out at this stage you’re not making any commitment — it always comes down to the subject’s availability and desire to engage.

Final note: volunteering to help out in this way is on the basis of one community member helping another. This training is not sponsored or run by the Tillamook County SAR team.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sean Marrer and Ash