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In 2016 Lake District Mountain Rescue and Search Dogs (LDMRSD) attended 50 callouts to walkers, holidaymakers and locals who were lost or stuck on the Lake District fells.
The Lake District National Park is England’s largest National Park. The amazing dogs on the LDMRSD callout list in 2017 and their hardworking handlers cover the 2292 square kilometres of some of the most challenging terrain and weather conditions in the UK.
Lakelovers are proud to be sponsoring five new Trainee Lake District Search Dogs and their handlers in a tough training programme to become ‘graded’, or qualified, Search Dogs. You can show your support when you make a booking through Lakelovers where you can donate £2 during the booking process, 100% of which will be passed on to the Mountain Dog Rescue charity fund; 1015943. View our dog friendly cottages in the Lake District and donate now!
Alternatively, you can make a donation here where you can donate as much or as little and as often as you like.
Many of our holiday cottage owners, as well as all of the Lakelovers team, are immense dog lovers, which is why dogs go FREE in all of our pet friendly cottages.
LDMRSD are a specialist team dedicated to the training and deployment of Search Dogs within the Lake District Mountain and Fells to search for missing people. There are many life-saving stories from their hard work and commitment – from climbers in serious trouble; people lost on the fells for weeks; to holiday-makers underestimating the power of the mountains and it’s changing weather.
Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association (LDMRSDA) Malcolm Grindrod; longtime assessor and handler, in his 2015 review, recollects many years ago sitting next to Cilla Black in make up for “Surprise, Surprise” with Search Dog ‘Spin’, who had successfully found a young girl unconscious on Fairfield Fell, in the Eastern Lakes; successfully saving her life.
Search Dog handlers are members of Mountain Rescue Teams within the Lake District, and must be competent in first aid and survival in a mountain environment. They choose to train a Search Dog to support their regional team, but are also called upon to help in neighbouring searches and by the police, to help with searches at low level for missing people who are ill or vulnerable.
“The training of an air-scenting search dog is a long and complex task, and handlers have to be highly motivated, as this is in addition to the training they already undertake in the course of their rescue work.”
Callouts can happen at any time of day or night, and search operations can mean Search Dogs working amongst some of the most challenging terrain and conditions.
Teaching an often wilful and independent dog (actually all good traits in a qualified Search Dog) to stay focused to ‘track and find’, over what can be hours, certainly takes some hard work and lots of hours of training!
“It’s quite nerve wrecking when you grade your dog for the first time, because all of a sudden people are relying on you to find people whose lives could be at risk,” recalls Dave Howarth of Kendal Mountain Search & Rescue, on grading his English Shepherd, Fern.
Graduating, or becoming ‘graded’ from Search Dog ‘school’ involves passing as many as 16 rigorous Assessments with your Mountain Rescue team (MRT) handler; typically taking 2-3 years for most dogs; of which the predominant breeds used by Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs are Border Collies. A handful of Labradors; German Shepherds; English Shepherds, and even a lurcher cross have also made the grade.
To meet the tough challenges facing the LDMRSDA in helping save lives across the Lake District, the 2-3 year training schedule that our new recruits started in late 2015, increased from one weekend per month to a commitment of three-weekly sessions (Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings); plus one full weekend per month, and an annual Winter Skills/Avalanche Training Week in the Cairngorms, Scotland – now that’s dedication!
To carry the coveted green with white cross Search Dog ‘graduation’ tag, the dog recruits will be trained in forest; footpath; moorland, and long ‘Mountain Day’ searches, following 16 tough Assessments.
And it is not just the time and skill taken to train and look after these specialist dogs – like their handlers, the Search Dogs need specialist equipment too.
Each dog has a new collar; lead; bowl, and mountain kit. They also need avalanche packs, light collars and snow jackets (a Labrador’s coat becomes less waterproof after five years, we learnt from the LDMRSDA).
As this is an entirely voluntary organisation all of the training relies on public support and sponsorship. LDMRSDA Chairman John Leadbetter, in his “2015, 50 years of Search Dogs” address explains:
“Success of our Dog Handler relies on being in the right area, at the right time. . . we have always been there when needed. At the moment we are fortunate to have members of Mountain Rescue Teams coming forward with dogs to train. One can only hope this trend will continue.”
With it taking 2-3 years to train a Search Dog, who can have a working life of 8 years; and such a large area to cover, it is vital to ensure there are enough trained dogs. This is why Lakelovers are proud to be sponsoring five new Search Dogs who will go on to have successful working careers.
The LAMRSDA and Lakelovers would like to welcome the following recruits who have been successfully registered and through ‘pre-school’ to start their rigorous training, of which Lakelovers are proud to be sponsoring: Dog names and grades coming soon…
We wish all a very successful training and long Search Dog career!
Show your support to these hard-working, eager dogs and their handlers by donating here.
Fancy getting hands-on and meeting the ‘students’ as they train?
Training days are open to the public where you can give the recruits an encouraging cuddle and even have a go at being a Dogsbody – that’s if you don’t mind lying around waiting for what can be hours to be ‘found’ and then potentially licked to death by a very proud Trainee Search Dog!
Regular Dogsbody, Deb Clarke fondly recounts being “barked at – at top volume in close proximity, slobbered over, jumped on and played with” as well as sitting in bogs, sliding down scree slopes and being buried six foot under snow!
Get in touch with LAMRSDA fro more details – Contact
We at Lakelovers are honoured to support the hardworking Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog teams – handlers, dogs and dogsbodies – who work tirelessly to protect the safety of those who love the Lakes as much as we do!
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