2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA). As part of SARDA Scotland’s celebrations we will meet some of the dog handlers who have contributed to saving lives in the Scottish mountains.
Bob Smith MBE
Bob joined SARDA in 1969. As one of the earliest of SARDA’s handlers, Bob and his German Shepherd Pushkin assisted police and mountain rescue teams all over Scotland. In 1974 Pushkin was the only rescue dog in Scotland to hold the coveted “A” certificate for mountain rescue. Bob later trained his second German Shepherd, Blue and in 1976 was delighted to win the Madras Trophy for the best dog and handler in training. In 1977 Bob and Blue represented SARDA at Crufts in a personality parade for working dogs.
Bob served as the call out officer and training officer for SARDA and retired from dog handling in 1985 when Blue passed away.
SARDA of course is only one part of the story. Bob joined the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team in 1969, the Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team in 1974 and served as team leader of Arrochar from 1983 to 1996. His work in outdoor education saw him introduce thousands of young people to the outdoors. Bob’s enormous contribution to mountain rescue over 37 years was recognised by the award of the Member of the British Empire (MBE).
At 82 Bob continues to enjoy the mountains and can often be found on the summits of the Arrochar Alps. Bob remains passionate about the role of the search dog within mountain rescue, and points out that the dogs today operate in the same environments he did in SARDA’s early years: open ground; snow and avalanche conditions and at night. Really not much has changed. “A well trained dog and a competent handler is equal to at least 20 men in a search”. Well we would never argue with that!