Story last updated at 8/15/2012 - 1:37 pm
Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search (SEADOGS) has been helping find lost or injured people since its induction in 1977. It takes a high level of commitment to be a SEADOGS volunteer.
Dog and handler go through more than two years of intense training before being tested. Handlers must learn first aid, wilderness navigation, search techniques and of course how to train and work with their search companion.
Sage is a two year old golden retriever who recently passed her wilderness certification. Stacey Poulson, her handler has been working with SEADOGS since 2003, first as a hider during training sessions. She then worked as a walk along on searches and now as a handler. Sage started her daily- to twice-a-week training when she was 8 weeks old, with short run away problems and lots of work on obedience. All of the SEADOGS dogs must first pass an obedience test before going on to their certification tests. There are four areas to certify a SEADOG search dog - wilderness, avalanche, water and cadaver. Sage will be continuing her work towards avalanche certification this winter. She has also been introduced to cadaver training.
Training is ongoing through their career as a SEADOG. Being a SEADOG opens a whole world of exploration to both dog and handler. Many times the team is transported by boat, small plane or helicopter, but most of the work is done on foot. The dogs must learn to tolerate all methods of transportation including ski lift or snowmobile and be able to negotiate wilderness terrains and heavy snow.
During the summer SEADOGS meet once a week to train for wilderness searches and twice a week during the winter as avalanche workouts are added. We welcome new faces and are always looking for volunteers (to hide for the dogs) and future SEADOGS/handlers.
For more information go to our website at www.seadogs.us or call Bruce Bowler at 789-2582.