Chesapeake Search Dogs is a non-profit volunteer organization that is dedicated to finding the lost and missing. They are called out by the police to search areas or buildings for a specific person who is lost or injured. The most common incidents are when a person is at a great risk either due to age or diminished capacity, or lost hiker.
The team trains on average 8 hours a week, 52 weeks a year developing a strong bond as a unit. As handlers and flankers, they navigate through the woods, usually in the dark, carrying a twenty pound backpack to look for their hidden subject.
The members of this team have the biggest hearts. They devote so much of their time and energy to training their dogs and themselves. One of our hardest tasks is land navigation. We are given a topographical map, a compass, and a flashlight and work our way through the woods to a certain destination. This is much easier said then done; however, it feels amazing when you finally get it.
Dizzy and I trained for over two years to pass our certification tests. We passed the puppy program and moved onto the training team, and we passed the NASAR SARTECH test as well. However, we were one test short before we moved to Philadelphia. Once we moved, it was almost impossible to make a weekday training and the Saturday trains were just as hard while studying for exams. Dizzy has not forgotten her training.
Every now and then, I have a friend or family member hide in the yard or woods and let Dizzy get to work! As soon as her vest is out and bells start to jingle, she starts to focused.
When you go on your first search, it makes all the late night trainings and bruises from tripping over sticks worth it. Your adrenaline starts pumping and your instincts kicks in. It is a crazy feeling that I miss like crazy!
Learn more about them here and consider volunteering! There are opportunities as a handler, flanker, communications/base, and many behind the scenes options!