Our year of training started in April due to the country going back into lockdown just before the Christmas period. Despite losing 3 full months of work we started the year where we left off with a number of new trainee dog handlers and their dogs. We continued to conduct training in our usual locations in and around Penmaenmawr and Rhosneigr but we also went to new venues mainly to expand our offer and to attract new trainees from further afield. In April we delivered our very first short course at Glyndwr University in Northop and we are in the process of evaluating whether this is something we will continue with in 2022.
David Jones, our head instructor continued to travel to Ireland to provide training and assessments for the handlers and dogs for both Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and K9 Search and Rescue Northern Ireland.
Over the summer months we delivered training in Scotland and on the banks of Llyn Brenig in Denbighshire and in Spain with members of the Armed Forces, Fire Service and Mountain Rescue Service.
In the Autumn our main focus was on assessments and we had a healthy number of trainees successfully complete their final assessments in 2021 including 6 newly qualified Cadaver Detection Dog handlers, 1 Live Person (Air Scenting) and 1 Live Person (Tracking) handlers.
2022 is set to ne a very busy year with our first training session taking place in Ireland at the start of January with our Wales based training kicking off at the end of January. We are all looking forward to another productive year ahead and look forward to welcoming new handlers to our courses as well as welcoming back qualified handlers who will be fulfilling their continuous training requirements as part of their ongoing annual assessments.
Our final weekend started off with trainee handler, Matt Skillen and his search dog, Woody‘s final assessment for the NASDU level 3 qualification in Cadaver Detection (Land). The weather was very challenging with strong winds mixed in with heavy showers throughout the morning. Matt was supported in his search of an area of interest by newly qualified cadaver detection dog handler, Amanda Drummond.
After several hours of methodical searching we are delighted to announce that Matt and Woody were succesful and are now available for operational search work.
The rest of the weekend was dedicated to all handlers being involved in assisting North Wales Police in an ongoing missing person search on Anglesey. We were also joined by dog handlers from Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team.
Here are some photos from the weekend’s work.
Matt Skillen & Woody conducting a line search
The weekend of the 16th to the 18th October was a very busy session as we welcomed a new trainee, continued with ongoing training for a number of trainees as well as assessing 4 of our Cadaver Detection Search Dog teams.
On Friday our 4 Cadaver Detection Search Dog handlers were required to take their multiple choice exams prior to having their assessor inspect and check their team kit in preparation for Saturdays' end point assessment. The rest of the trainees spent the morning going through continuation training in their chosen pathway. Friday afternoon was dedicated to allowing the assessed trainees an opportunity to do some final preparation for their final test before all trainees were given an insightful and very crucial session on navigation by our instructor Gethin Jones.
We started early on a bright and calm Saturday morning with head instructor David Jones taking his group of trainees to the uplands above Penmaenmawr to concentrate on Live Person (Air Scenting) work and Cadaver Work for those trainees still building their skills and experience.
For the 4 Teams being assessed, UK-K9 Training for Excellence Instructor, Gavin Roberts was their assessor for the day. The handlers were split into teams of 2 and were tasked with 2 large areas to search for potential grave sites. Each handler was required to search two 20 metre grids and show that they could methodically and systematically search their given areas putting all their training, skills and knowledge in place to work towards a positive outcome. The terrain they were given was very demanding and tricky but it ensured that these handlers and dogs could cope with anything they face once they become qualified and available for operational work.
After a gruelling day of searching we are delighted to say that all 4 teams were successful in their assessment. All 4 of them located grave sites and their dogs gave excellent indications. UK-K9 want to give huge congratulations to the following teams who are now qualified in Cadaver Detection Search Work and we wish them all the best in any operational work they may carry out:
Amanda Drummond and Sturgeon
Sam Broadhead and Rizzo
Tina Walker and Detta
Vinny Williams and Scout
On Sunday there was no time to rest as all trainees both qualified and yet to qualify continued with work on developing and fine tuning their skills.
Here are some photos from the weekend.
Designated search area 1
Between the 10th and 12th of September we all travelled up to Biggar in Scotland for a very busy weekend of training and assessments.
The training took place on the Kingsbeck Estate which proved to be an excellent location for our training in Cadaver (Land), Cadaver (Water), Live Person (Air Scenting and Live Person (Tracking) pathways. We would like to offer a huge "Thank You" to John and Eihleh McCosh for allowing us to work on their estate and for being so accommodating over the weekend.
Friday was a day where handlers and their dogs were given the opportunity to do some continuation training work and practice in preparation for a full scale scenario on Saturday.
The handlers also to part in an Exercise on Winthrop Theory given by Calum Drummond. We would like to offer a huge "Thank You" to Calum for this excellent session (which the dog handlers thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a great deal) and for all his support throughout the weekend.
On Saturday all the handlers and dogs were involved in a scenario based exercise which was put together and led by one of our trainee Cadaver (Land) Detection Dog handlers, Amanda Drummond - many thanks Amanda for getting everything arranged and set up for a great weekend. This exercise tested everyone's skills and knowledge and culminated in successful "Finds.
Also, on Saturday we were able to assess two dog handlers from K9 Search & Rescue Northern Ireland for Cadaver (Water) Detection. Both Kyle and Daniel performed admirably under the watchful eye of our assessors and we are delighted to say that both handlers and their dogs passed! They will now return to Northern Ireland and will be available for operation work in the region.
We also conducted Tony Warren and his search dog Jess' annual assessment for Cadaver Detection (Water) which they passed and Lizzie Watt and her search dog Bailey passed the Bank Search element of their Cadaver Detection (Water) qualification.
Sunday was a continuation of Kyle and Daniel's assessment with the rest of the handlers preparing themselves for Cadaver (Land) assessments which will take place in North Wales in mid October.
Here is a selection of photos from our very successful weekend in Scotland.
We welcomed our handlers and their dogs to Penmaenmawr for our July training weekend between the 16th and 18th of last month.
The main focus for the Friday session was continuation and consolidation of training including the assessment on Open Search work for 2 of our Cadaver Detection Dog Handler trainees.
Both our trainees (Matt and Sam) were successful in passing their Open Search element and they will now concentrate on grid searching in preparation for their final assessment in the coming months.
We also welcomed handlers from K9 Search & Rescue Northern Ireland and Amy from that team passed her pre-assessment and will now work on fine tuning elements ready for her final assessment next month.
Saturday was dedicated to a full scale search scenario which took place on a private estate in the Penmaenmawr area. The area was secured and set up by our head instructor, David Jones and put all handlers, dogs and operational support personnel through a gruelling exercise in very hot and testing conditions.
All involved performed very well and learnt a number of valuable lessons in search management, deployment, team work and other key skill areas.
Below are a selection of photos from the search scenario.
Next month we are concentrating on annual assessments for our water search handlers and dogs. Check back in August for an update on how they fared.
North Wales - June 18th - 20th
We started our June training session with 3 of our trainee handlers successfully completing the 'Open Search' element of the Level 3 NASDU Qualification for Cadaver Detection. All 3 of the handlers and their dogs searched a large open area where they completed the task within the given time frame and all returned with a 100% find and recovery rate. These handlers are now concentrating on the 'Grid Search' element which concentrates the search for buried remains. We were also able to carry out an annual assessment for the L3 Live Person (Air Scenting) qualification for Tony Warren and his search dog Jessie.
On Saturday we moved camp over the Menai Straits to Anglesey where we continued training in the Aberffraw and Rhosneigr areas. Work on Cadaver Detection, Live Person and Water Search continued until the end of the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Photos of the weekend can be seen below.
Northern Ireland - June 24th - 27th
Taken from K9 Search & Rescue NI Facebook post:
This past Friday to Sunday we hosted a long weekend of K9 training in Bangor.
Lots of progress was made with the young dogs, and it won’t be long before they are ready for their pre-assessments.
Our Board of Trustees were able to join us on Sunday and see the dogs in action, making all their hard work in the background seem easy I’m sure…
Thank you to Coffee Cure for keeping us fed and watered over the weekend.
Big thank you also to Banbridge High School for presenting us with a cheque for over £850!
We also had members of the public come and act as our casualties, which was great, thank you!
Also a special thank you to the owners of the private estate for letting us use your fantastic grounds .
We spent the last few weeks delivering ongoing training in both Ireland and in North Wales.
Between the 13th and 16th May UK-K9 travelled over to Dublin to continue with training for members of the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and K9 Search & Rescue NI. In total, 13 dogs and their handlers were involved over the 4 days and we are delighted to announce that Maurice Brady and his search dog Layla were successful in their practical assessment for the Level 3 Live Person (Tracking) pathway. We would like to congratulate Maurice and Layla on their achievement and wish them all the best as they go ahead with their "Operational" work.
David Jones, our Head Instructor was also able to present Kyle Murray and his search dog Delta with their NASDU certificate for the Level 3 Live Person (Air Scenting) pathway.
Last weekend (21st - 23rd May) saw us continue with our training in North Wales. We again had 13 dogs and handlers present and this time we had a change of venue. Thanks to Welsh Water we were given permission to use specific areas of land at Llyn Brenig. We welcomed a couple of new trainees who are starting out on their training journey and also we were busy preparing 3 of our handlers for their assessments which are due to take place in June.
Here is a selection of photos from both training sessions.
April was a very productive month for UK-K9 as we were finally able to launch our short courses in conjunction with Glyndwr University.
Between the 19th and 21st April we delivered the Introduction to Search Dog Handling followed swiftly followed by the Canine Operations Support Course at the Wrexham Glyndŵr University Northop campus on 21st _23rdApril. The campus offers excellent facilities for both the theory and practical elements of the course.
The increasing need for search and rescue dogs across a range of subject disciplines is widely recorded, and the demands of roles which support this in public, private and voluntary sectors are increasing.
Introduction to Search Dog Handling
Our very first course was delivered over 2 and a half days and we welcomed 8 students who were given the opportunity to learn more about the work of a search dog handler. We concentrated during day one on introducing the students to the work of the Human Remains/Cadaver detection dog and after a morning of presentations and slide shows the students were able, after lunch, to see a few of UK-K9's qualified dog teams go through their paces.
This was followed with some short scenarios for the students to assist in, including being able to have a go at handling the dogs.
Our second day concentrated on the work done by handlers and dogs who are involved in water search and students were again able to watch presentations and find out more about this discipline. We were then delighted to welcome our friends from Wagtail UK who gave demonstrations on drug and explosive detection dogs. Wednesday morning was dedicated to the work of conservation dogs, again delivered by Wagtail UK before the students were able to take part in some exercises to compliment what they had learnt over the past few days.
Canine Support Operations Course
The K9 Support Operations course is designed to deliver theory and practical skills training across a range of subjects relevant to a K9 search team. This support allows the Dog Handler to focus on the primary role of managing the dog to maximise search efficiency.
This course looks to offer those interested in working with operational dogs, but not necessarily those currently looking to become search dog handlers, an opportunity to complete practical training in a range of subjects. These include:
The delivery method adopts a blended approach to training in that an online element is released two weeks prior to the commencement of the course. Students then attend the practical two-day event and will complete a knowledge check on the last day of training. Accredited prior learning (APL) can be claimed for the first aid subjects on proof of a current nationally recognised qualification.
The course can be linked to run with the Intro to Search Dog Handling giving course delegates the opportunity to develop practical skills and gain experience in all aspects of the search dog environment.
Here are a few photos from the course:
Our head instructor/assessor, David Jones, returned to Ireland last week (April 12th) to continue his work instructing members of the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team. After a 4 day session we are delighted to announce the following:
Search Dog Handler, Sheelagh O'Malley and her Dog, Rowan successfully completed their annual assessment for Live Person (Air Scenting) and will continue to be operational for another year.
Joe Egan and his search dog, Boomer passed their assessment for the NASDU Level 3 Live Person (Air Scenting) pathway.
Maurice Brady (Team Leader) was also successful with his pre-assessment and is now ready for his final assessment for the Level 3 Live Person (Tracking) pathway in the next few weeks. We all wish them good luck with their assessment.
Dave also met up with new handlers and their dogs who are starting on their training. More details on their progress will appear in our news section in the coming months.
Here are some photos from the training held in Ireland.
2020 ended on a low note for us as we had to postpone training due to new lockdown restrictions being put in place just before Christmas. We waited patiently for restrictions to ease and thankfully last weekend (April 16th - 18th) we were able to resume training with our trainees being able to travel from far and wide to continue with their NASDU certified qualifications.
We all met up on the uplands above Penmaenmawr where our trainees continued with their training on Level 3 qualifications in Cadaver (Land), Cadaver (Water) , Live Person (Air Scenting) and Live Person (Tracking). Friday was a special session as we welcomes Amy Rattenbury (Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science) from Wrexham Glyndwr University, who spent the day discuss the science behind decomposition, grave sites and many other cadaver related matters.
On Saturday, our senior instructor/assessor, David Jones had set up a scenario based exercise which involved all of the trainees and qualified handlers attending for continuous training purposes. The search involved two teams of dog handlers and support personnel searching a large area of moorland for fragments of evidence, including a search on the bank of a river and culminating in a search of the edges of a small reservoir.
This exercise was a great success with all dogs and handlers having excellent finds and working well as teams. Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning were dedicated to continuing with strengthening the skills of the dog and handler teams in their respective pathways.
We are all looking forward already to our next training weekend which will be at Llyn Brenig where we will welcome some new trainees as well as our regulars. Below are a selection of photos from last weekend's training.