In many searches, the dog becomes an indispensable tool for saving lives. It is much more effective than a person performs tasks to search for victims. Dogs that help rescue climbers, skiers and tourists from under avalanches and snow blockages are selected from breeds with certain physical data and intellectual abilities. It should not only be a strong and hardy dog, it should respond well to training, be stress-resistant, get along with strangers and adequately respond to them.
Characteristic Rescue Dog
The breed of the pet must meet the goals and conditions of the search and rescue operation. For example, dogs that can withstand low temperatures and have sufficient physical strength to not only indicate a person’s whereabouts, but also dig them out and pull them out from under the snow help rescue climbers most effectively.
However, good physical data - this is not all that is required of a four-legged rescuer. If he is psychologically incapable of working in extreme conditions, then his use in rescue operations is impractical.
In the process of preparation, the dog is taught many important skills that help to conduct operations efficiently. During training, its psychological and physical capabilities are also evaluated. According to experts, the rescue dog should have the following qualities:
- excellent physical shape, strong physique;
- well-developed sensory organs: vision, smell, hearing;
- stress resistance;
- good learning ability;
- high intellectual abilities: the ability to quickly and accurately respond to human commands, as well as act independently (in case of emergency);
- the ability to communicate with strangers and other animals, calmly respond to them.
To become a lifeguard, the animal undergoes a course of serious training. Based on the results of the training, specialists decide on the possibility of his participation in search operations.
Mountains are considered one of the most difficult places to work. Low temperatures, strong winds, as well as a sharp change in weather conditions require an unprecedented endurance from animals and humans. For work in the mountains, strong large-build animals are used to be able to get a person out from under the rubble or bring equipment. Their coat should be thick, with a dense undercoat, which protects them from low temperatures.
For several centuries these dogs have been rescuing climbers in the mountains. Initially, they were used for protection by the servants of the monastery of St. Bernard in the Swiss Alps (XVII century), where the name of the breed (Saint-Bernard) came from.
Over time, climatic conditions in the Alps began to change and cases of snow melting became more frequent. They began to use the St. Bernards not only as guards, but also as escorts during crossings in the mountains. They have a flexible disposition and endurance, so they are often used as pack animals for the transport of goods. Their ability to predict avalanches often saved the lives of travelers.
Saint Bernards are very affectionate, calm and friendly. They carefully and patiently treat young children, are not afraid of strangers and calmly react to other animals. They are not aggressive and will not bark for no reason. However, in the event of a threat, their instincts will react quickly.
The St. Bernards are smart and well-trained. They have a wonderful scent that can smell a person at great depths under the snow. They are able to dig up the victim and give a signal about his whereabouts to the rest of the rescue team.
Dogs of this breed are large and powerful. Their average height is 80 cm and their weight is more than 70 kg. They have a thick long or short (depending on the breed) coat with undercoat. This coat allows them to tolerate low temperatures and can help warm affected climbers.
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular service dogs. It is used in various areas of human life (security, police, military service, etc.). These dogs also help climbers and other victims of various disasters.
German shepherds are universal. They do an excellent job with search operations, both in the mountains (in cases of snow descents) and in the lowlands after earthquakes and other disasters, looking for people under the rubble.
German shepherds in all respects are suitable for work in special operations in the mountains:
- they are smart, well trained;
- balanced, psychologically stable;
- quickly adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and orient themselves on the ground;
- withstand cold weather;
- have good health.
The average growth of the shepherd is 50-60 cm and weight is 50 kg. She has excellent sense of smell, vision and hearing, which allows her to find the victim at great depths. At the same time, trained shepherds can not be distracted by extraneous odors and noises, concentrating on the search work.
German shepherds have powerful muscular corset and strong paws. This helps them dig a person out of the rubble. Well-developed sensory organs make it possible to lead the victim to a safe place (shepherds are also often used as guides for blind people).
Bernese Mountain Dog
The breed was originally bred in Switzerland. The tasks of the Sennenhund included grazing cattle, performing guard functions and being a faithful companion for humans. This breed perfectly performs these tasks to this day.
Bernese Mountain Dog is a large and strong dog. Her average height is 60-70 cm, and weight - about 50 kg. She has a long and thick coat, which allows her to tolerate frosts well.
The breed is distinguished by a high degree of socialization, friendly disposition, calm character and obedience. Therefore, pets are often used to search for people during cataclysms. They are able to clearly carry out commands and interact with a stranger. They can quickly track down the victim in the rubble, attracting the attention of the search group to the required location with a loud bark.
These are energetic and strong dogs, characterized by strength and endurance, independence and intelligence. Their average height is 60 cm, and their weight is not more than 40 kg. Outwardly, they look like a wolf, but they are absolutely pets with a fine mental organization that does not tolerate loneliness. Initially, the breed was created to help a person living in the northern latitudes:
- for transportation of goods over long distances;
- for hunting seals, polar bears, etc .;
- to protect against wild animals and intruders.
Now Alaskan Malamute is often involved in search and rescue operations. It has important characteristics that are necessary for working in extreme conditions:
- endurance, ability to work for many hours in a row;
- strength (dogs are able to easily carry heavy loads in a sleigh, including a wounded victim);
- an innate love of digging deep holes;
- intelligence (Alaskan Malamute can make decisions independently, without a human command).
Stubborn disposition and excessive independence often cause difficulties in raising a pet. Therefore, experienced specialists are engaged in its training. With proper training, Alaskan Malamute will be an excellent lifeguard and reliable companion.
The breed was bred by crossing long-haired St. Bernards, Newfoundlands and mountain Pyrenees dogs. Leonbergers have an impressive size (their average height is 75 cm, and weight - up to 80 kg), energy and high intelligence.
These dogs are not aggressive and get along well with strangers (in the absence of a threat to the dog and owner), and can even be used as a nanny for children. With proper training, dogs achieve a high level of socialization, which is one of the important qualities for a rescue pet.
Leonbergers respond well to training. They are not characterized by dominance, so they clearly fulfill the voiced by the owner of the team.
Leonbergers are great helpers in extreme situations. They are not shy and have a calm disposition. They will not be scared or distracted from the task by loud sounds or other animals.
Representatives of this breed are highly stress resistant. They are able to quickly assess the situation and not show aggression unnecessarily. With proper training, the Leonberger becomes a faithful companion and an indispensable member of the search and rescue team.