Search & Rescue Dog Association Scotland News

Congratulations Tony and Bryan

Congratulations to Tony and his dog Laggan, and Bryan with dog Storm, who passed their novice dog assessments at the September training weekend in Lochgoilhead. Well done to them all.

As if this wasn’t enough to be excited about, we had good weather for our annual barbecue and a good time was had by all. There was no rest for anyone  on Sunday though, and it was back to  training again.  ‘Puppy School’ was closed down for the time being, as our two youngest dogs are progressing well and beginning to cover larger areas.




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Well Done Izzy

A great big thank you from SARDA Scotland to 9 year old  Izzy Passmore who walked 9 miles from Muker to Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales on the 3rd September to raise funds for the search and rescue dogs.  Izzy planned the route herself and organised her own kit.  It rained the whole way but we are pleased to see that Izzy kept on smiling!  Well done to you Izzy and thank you again from the SARDA dogs and their handlers.

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Burns Pet Nutrition Dogs Day Out at Glamis 7th August 2016

We had a great day  at the ‘Dogs Day Out’ sponsored by Burns Pet Nutrition and held at Glamis Castle on 7th August 2016.  Lots of people came to meet us (well actually more likely to meet the dogs) and  told us interesting stories about themselves and their dogs, as well as generously donating to SARDA Scotland.  Thank you to all of them.


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Dogs Day Out


We will be at the Dogs Day Out at Glamis next Sunday. If you are there pop in and say hello!

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July Training Braemar

A successful training weekend in Braemar saw Allison and her dog Felix, and Steven and his dog Raasay pass their assessments to become full search dogs.  Dave and his dog Bob  also passed their assessment and gained novice dog status. Congratulations to them all.   Dave had barely been told the good news before the call-out coordinator was asking for his contact details for the call out list.



We will now all take a rest during August and get together again in September for our next training weekend.






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June Training Weekend Ballachulish

The training weekend was eventful before it even really started with SARDA Scotland search and rescue dog Mac and his handler Jonah locating a missing person on Skye on Friday. Well done to them both.


We arrived at Ballachulish to a welcoming committee of midges on Friday but thankfully a breeze kept them away for the rest of the weekend and as an added bonus, and despite threatening clouds overhead, the weather remained dry and warm.

We were very happy on Sunday morning to learn that  Meagaidh, pictured below with her handler Tom, has achieved novice dog status, and will now be added to the call-out list. Congratulations to them both! tom and Meagaidh

The young dogs continue to progress well and the two puppies in ‘Puppy School’ are growing very quickly!  The volunteers who help to train the young dogs get plenty of exercise trying to keep up with them,  as do their handlers. When the dogs begin to search larger areas, their handlers have to attempt to keep up with them!



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Meet Felix and Midge

The following article was written by  Police Constable (Division Events Planner) and SARDA dog handler Alison Todd. It was originally published in the ‘On The Beat feature’ in the  Evening Express, and is reproduced with kind permission.

alli and midge


When I am not dealing with shows, games, events and visits by VIP’s, which encompass various licensing, safety and staffing requirements, I am part of the Police (Scotland) Mountain Rescue Team.

I have been a member of the Search and Rescue Dog Association Scotland for 10 years. So what does this mean when I am not doing my daytime job? Being a member of the mountain rescue team means that I can be deployed 24/7 in the North East of Scotland and, with the added skills of being a search dog handler, I can be called out throughout Scotland. I currently have two qualified search and rescue dogs that are trained to search for human scent. They can be deployed to locate missing persons or for articles,  or people buried in avalanches. Human scent is carried by the wind and we all cast it off in very large amounts.  When the dogs find the scent, they work towards its concentration and bark to lead me to where the person is.


The older search dog Midge was involved in searching for an overdue climber in Lochnagar. Despite the underfoot conditions, heavy snow and high risk of avalanche, our group made its way to a safe area of the Corrie. As we arrived, Midge indicated that there was something there,  and the person was found safe and well sheltering inside a large first aid box.  Midge was also successful in locating a vulnerable missing lady in the Deeside area who had wandered away from secure accommodation.


Felix is my younger new recruit, and soon after passing his first assessment and going on the call-out list, he was deployed to search for someone missing who had been taking part in mountain sports in the Highlands area along with other dogs.  Even though he had only just passed his training course, he understood the role he had to perform.

It takes two years of intensive training to qualify the dogs to full status. This involves a lot of work in my own time. During training we use friends and family members to act as casualties by hiding in the hills, up trees and underneath snow. Collie dogs are the best breed to use as they have a great work/play drive and only have to be shown things once or twice.

Felix has recently learned how to find people buried in the snow and has picked up the idea very quickly. I just wonder if my garden is going to suffer the same mining work, but then there isn’t a body buried under the flowerbeds – not that I know of!

Felix On The Go


The dogs stay at home with me and, when they are not out on searches, they are my pets. But as soon as they hear the phone ringing, especially in the middle of the night, they are up and standing at the front door ready to go, They go into work mode when the harness goes on and after a successful find they are rewarded with a squeaking toy. When search duties are over I return to my other daytime job while the dogs dream of squeaky toys and sleep with a full belly!








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May Training Weekend Glen Shiel

There were five fewer dogs and handlers at the May training weekend, as they were deployed to assist in the search for a missing person in the Glen Coe area on Saturday and Sunday.  The rest who attended had a productive weekend, with the  dogs getting back  into the swing of things after a break during  April.  The volunteers were pleased that two new dogs arrived for ‘Puppy School’ with Hamish (or Hammy as he is known), and Glen,  doing very well with their first ever SARDA training sessions.




The weekend was warm, with a slight breeze which kept away the midges, and pleased everyone. Let us hope that we are as lucky with the rest of our training weekends throughout the summer.










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A big thank you to BOGS

A big thank you to BOGS who have kindly supported SARDA Scotland by supplying  us with thermal wellingtons. We look forward to having warm dry feet!  Many thanks again to them.


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Annual Course 2016

DSCN0300The S.A.R.D.A Scotland Annual Course is now over for another year. Congratulations to Mark and Aonach and Jonah and Mack who achieved full dog status. We were very honoured to have one of the founder members of the Search and Rescue Dog Association, Dr Catherine MacLeod  present at the course. Catherine is pictured below presenting Mark and Jonah with their certificates.   It was fascinating to hear Catherine’s stories of searches in the early days of S.A.R.D.A and we would like to  thank her for taking the time to come along to the course.




Thank you also to  Martin and Beth from  Burns Pet Nutrition  who came along to see what we were up to, and brought some dog food with them!













As always we are very grateful to the staff at the Kings House Hotel who never fail to make us feel so welcome and go out of their way to help us.

We were sorry to say goodbye to dog handler Graeme  Dalby who has retired from S.A.R.D.A Scotland after 27 years. His dry sense of humour will  be greatly missed and we wish him well for the future.












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