Training Weekend November 2014 Kintail

A very busy training weekend with a lot of different things going on;  in dry if somewhat bracing conditions.  Saturday had three search areas to be completed on the steep sides of Gleann Lichd, prior to a full evening for the handlers.  After a cuppa accompanied by Dog Charlie’s home baking, the two legged team members reconvened for an Ordinary General Meeting, whilst the four legged ones relaxed.

Saturday evening’s meal was provided by retired dog handler Les and volunteer Issy who had kindly offered to cook a meal to raise funds for  SARDA’s 50th anniversary celebrations planned for next year. Including some kind donations from neighbours of Issy and Les, and from retired dog handlers, a total of £300 was raised.

Equipment officer Tony and his young assistant Aiden were non-stop all weekend. In addition to Tony’s normal task of handing out hill gear for the volunteer ‘bodies’, he was busy distributing new gear to the dog handlers.  Satmaps were provided, not just to aid handler’s navigation, but to record their trails to help search managers. New shovels and avalanche probes were also given out.  These may not be high tech, but they are essential pieces of equipment as the snowy season approaches.

Drum and his handler Mike had a very early start on Sunday morning to get over to Fraserburgh to assist with an on-going search.

The rest of us woke up to find that Jack Frost had paid us a visit; Tony seems to be spot on with his winter predictions!  First task of the day was a photo shoot; the star of the show not being cute dogs, but big cheques.  Our thanks to the Borders Cross Country  series and the Lochaber and District Canine Society for their generous donations.




While the training areas were set up and ‘Puppy School’ started, the really challenging training began.  Dog Stu was tasked with teaching handlers how to use their new Satmaps and the difference between ‘tracks’ and ‘trail’. Dog Tom went to the top of the class; he successfully recorded his trail through a search area. There will be lots of practicing over the next few weeks for the rest of us. Training a dog is not just about one weekend a month but a continual process, with lots of hard work in between formal training weekends.  As always thank you to the volunteer ‘bodies’ who lie on the hill for the dogs to find, and to the friends, family and rescue team friends who play hide and seek all over the country the rest of the time.

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