Hard Dog Races 2018

The Hard Dog racing season is over. I hoped we would manage more than two races this year but thay are all a long way away and we have so many other activities to do. We did manage a new HDR challenge however, that is Hard Dog Race Wild.

HDR Wild has a 12 kilometer long track, with 21 obstacles. It was a much longer run than we normally train for but we managed it in an excellent time of 1:39:54, finishing 5th in women’s division and 26th overall.

In Spring we ran the “classic” 6 kilometer HDR race with 12 obstacles and finished 10th in women’s division.

Still some room for improvement here. Mainly on my part tough. Saga is super fast but I keep slowing her down ­čśë

wilderness search, level B

It has been a crazy week. Last Saturday we competed at HDR Base in Hungary and finished 10th in W’s division. We drove back the same day and on Sunday morning we drove across Slovenia to lead a “tricks & fun obedience” workshop. Monday and Tuesday were spent at a two-day disaster search workshop. And on Saturday we drove to Croatia, to take our final search & rescue trial – wilderness search, level B.

No need to say, we were both pretty tired even at the start of the trial. The search lasts 30 minutes, covers 40.000 square meters of forest, with three missing persons. To pass, the dog needs to find all three, with points given for intensity of searching, agility, independence, directibility and alert. Saga worked really well, especially considering the week she had. Her obedience worked suffered a little, because by then tiredness was really starting to show. Still, we passed the trial and with it out LAST international search & rescue certification ­čśÇ


Hard Dog Race, Dabrowa Gornicza (PL)

We traveled to Poland last weekend, for another Hard Dog Race. And it was hard indeed… This time the six kilometers and sixteen obstacles were run in the cold (10┬░C), wind and rain. Most of the track was covered in mud, water and more mud.

For Saga running is like breathing and having to pull me along is just part of the package. Last time we had some trouble with the water obstacles, she wasn’t to crazy about going in. This time however (perhaps because of all the rain and mud), she didn’t even seem to notice them. The only problem I had was making her slow down on descents.

There was probably some faster dogs and definitely some faster people, but there was no-one more well matched than Saga and me. So we WON the women’s division ­čśÇ

canine search & rescue boot camp, Zagorje (SLO)

I have been a canine SAR dog handler for ten years but never had such an active summer. The fourth and last training camp of the summer was a five-day event held in Zagorje, Slovenia.

It was quite an experience for Saga. Every day started with an army transport to a new work site. Having to board a truck via a plank and riding in the back with twelve other dogs and people, calmly handling the noise, shaking and crowding. We worked on four different work sites, mainly industrial and some rubble.

The weather was (once again) hot and the environment quite stressful. It took Saga a day to acclimate to her surroundings but then she worked well and had the opportunity to tackle some new situations. She worked searches in an abandoned mine shaft, the ruins of an old lumber mill and in a concrete plant.

training weekend, Brno (CZ)

Saga and I traveled to Brno in Czech Republic for a training weekend. It was a great opportunity to work on new rubble sites, meet new people and exchange experience.

It was a very trying trip for Saga. On Friday we drove for eight hours, than did two searches in very high temperatures and a night search on a new and difficult rubble site. Saturday morning was rainy and we trained area search, but in the afternoon we traveled to another new rubble site. On Sunday we did two more searches on the first site and then slowly made our way back home.

Getting accustomed to long journeys and working in new, stressful surroundings is essential for an operative search and rescue dog. That is why it is so important to travel and put a young or inexperienced dog into novel situations.



disaster search boot camp, Postojna (SLO)

Our own K9 SAR unit organized a disaster search training weekend. It was an extreme experience … we started with a rope descent from the third foor; we did six searches in two days on three different sites, including a night search. Working in extreme temperatures (up to 32┬░C); in concrete, asphalt and in war tunnels form WWII. Saga also had to contend with a stressed and distracted handler, since I was also the main organizer and instructor of my group. As always she was highly motivated, adapting to new and difficult circumstances with ease. A hallmark of a high drive, stable working dog.

k9 rappel

Without a doubt the rappel or rope descent is one of the most stressful parts of canine search and rescue. It is stressful for the handler, because rappeling with a dog strapped to your body is not an easy thing to do. But it is even more stressful for the dog, since she does not understand what is happening and is hanging many meters above ground with no control whatsoever.

A certified SAR canine has to stay calm, follow her handlers lead and most of all be able to work after. It takes a lot of training and an awsome prey drive to work a search after a 50 meter descent.