Errington students learn about rescue dogs

There's a whole lot more to these canine companions than you might think

A youngster at Errington Elementary School strains to ask Kristin Drake about her search and rescue dog

Years of training gets special dogs and their handlers closer and closer to the action — but for the most part, it isn’t always that pleasant.

Members of the Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association from Campbell River and Courtenay were at Errington Elementary School Tuesday, demonstrating how the dogs are trained and how they can find people who are victims of a natural disaster.

Handler Cris Caumartin of Campbell River says they train the dogs at puppies and work with them at least twice each week. The goal is to enable the dogs to find people who have been trapped in debris for earthquakes or other disasters.

“We are some of the few volunteer search dog teams in the world,” she said.

There are two such teams in Campbell River and Courtenay, she said, adding there are two more in Victoria. The program, she continued, started in Alberta and today, handlers like Campbell River’s Kristin Drake have been all over the world, helping rescue people in times of trouble.

Drake, who works with her dog Wrangler, went to Haiti in 2009 to help after the devastating earthquake there. Some of the children at the school asked if she was able to help people there.

Drake carefully explained that she and Wrangler were only able to locate deceased people — but did say that the team she was working with did rescue a 50-year-old man who had survived the quake.

In the school gym, the handlers brought out their dogs and had them find students — and principal John Williams — who had carefully hidden themselves.

It didn’t take long for the well-trained rescue animals to locate their quarry.

The handlers then had student Brandon Nichol dress up in the searcher’s gear — overalls, boots, gloves and helmet —  to demonstrate what it might be like to work with the dogs out in the field.

The dogs, explained Caumartin, think finding people is a game, with rewards to follow — making it easier for them to do the work it takes to find people in debris.

It’s their sensitive noses, she explained to the children, that makes it all possible. Her own dog, Sprocket, has been in training for one-and-a-half years. Wrangler has been doing the job for three years.

After the gym presentation, the handlers and their dogs went into each classroom to visit the students, answer questions and let the kids pet the friendly dogs.

“It’s great that we can sometimes get out to let people know who we are and what we are doing,” said Caumartin.

The CASDDA started in Alberta 10 years ago, she continued, adding just about any dog can be trained to do the work. It does, however, require dedicated people willing to put in the time and energy to keep them ready for the call.

 

Just Posted

Parksville’s Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor celebrate 50 years

Week of ‘60s-themed activities starts on April 26

UPDATE: Missing kayakers located safe and sound in Welcome Bay

Pair were reported missing April 22, in vicinity of Lasqueti Island

Review: The Magic of ‘Almost, Maine’

ECHO Players production runs through May 5 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Most Read