Invaluable life experience: dog handlers teach dogs to save people

June 24
Safety and security

From May 2020 to June 2021, dog handlers of the emergency rescue team (ASO) No. 6 of the Fire and Rescue Center of Moscow in Novo-Peredelkino went for searching those lost 95 times and rescued 22 people. They were helped by dogs that are able to find a lost person in a couple of hours. The team members say that anyone can become a rescuer. It is the same with quadrupeds: it does not matter what breed — shepherd, labrador or mongrel. Dog handlers will teach them how to find the living under the wreckage, take care and balance on the collapsed reinforced-concrete slabs. On the Day of the dog handler, June 21, we talk about rescue dogs and their training.

Find alive

A man is lying among the broken reinforced-concrete slabs, with water pipes above him. According to legend, he went down to the basement of an old building, hearing the squeaking of kittens, but at that moment the ceiling collapsed. In fact, this is how training takes place.

"One of the types of our missions is to search under the wreckage. For example, scaffolding or rickety structures have collapsed. Our dogs help us find the living being under the wreckage. They are found by the smell of sweat and the sound of breathing," Yevgeny Slizovsky, the second-class rescuer of ASO No. 6, explains.

During such a rescue operation, the animal is given the command to search for a person, and this can be a word in any language (for example, in English or German), depending on what command the dog is accustomed to.

This time, a dog named Yashma (Jasper) is looking for a man. She runs around the wreckage several times, among which the man is hidden, noisily sniffs the air and only after making sure that there are definitely living people here, barks loudly. I found it! Mission completed. At the same time, she does not come close: she is forbidden to touch the victims. Perhaps the person is injured or may be afraid of the dog - he should not be disturbed.

Yashma receives prepared pieces of meat — encouragement, this is a mandatory part of the training.

"Yashma is 11 years old. According to our standards, the dog handler’s personal dog has the right to serve nine years from the moment of the first certification. Then, if the dog is recertified, it can work for another two years. After that, it's time to retire. But so far, she is in good physical shape," Anna Nikitchenko, Yashma owner, a dog handler at the Moscow Fire and Rescue Center, says.

Yashma, Border Collie, has a real jasper color: beige-brown with streaks. According to Anna, each breed has its own advantages. Border Collies are active and fast, and they are used to working in nature, because they are herding dogs. Belgian Shepherds can climb trees and jump high, and Bavarian hounds never sit still.

Rescue operations

The lop-eared Kedra is a Bavarian Hound. You can't immediately say that this dark brown dog is a rescuer, at first glance it is small and not too strong. She's six years old. While her owner, dog handler Lyubov Petrushina, works out on the lawn near the building of the emergency rescue team the ‘Obedience’ standard (teaches to obey commands) with the second dog — a two-year-old striped Dutch Shepherd Brunhilda, lean and sporty, Kedra fawn upon upon and rubs her nose.

"Do you think she is affectionate and gentle? Nothing like that. Demon, you can't leave her alone - she'll turn over the trash can, pull out food from everywhere and eat it, dig under the fence, rush to catch rats. The naughtiest of my dogs. She pretends that can't hear well because of her floppy ears. Not like Brunhilda - she is ready to toe the mark at the first call," Lyubov Petrushina laughs.

No matter what kind of character the dog has, during training it should not be pressed, otherwise the rescue dog handler will never become a colleague and partner for it. The animal will be uptight and will not be able to complete tasks.

"The main thing in the work of a dog handler is patience: training should be carried out regularly. For the first few months, every other day, then once a week. During working hours, this is rarely possible, we have to train dogs in private time," Lyubov Petrushina says.

‘Obedience’ is an important academic discipline. Dogs get used to react quickly to the orders of their mentors. "Heel! And now — down!" — the dog handler commands. Brunhilde walks obediently beside her mistress ' foot, then immediately falls into the grass. As a reward, she receives a favorite toy - a rubber plate

The Shepherd is young and has not yet participated in rescue operations. But Kedra had found people before.

"Kedra is a tracking dog. Unlike search dogs, she searches for a specific lost person, not any living being. There was a case: elderly man was lost near Zvenigorod. He went to gather strawberries and didn't come back. Kedra picked up the scent and led us to an abandoned dacha. The man found strawberry bushes there, got carried away, did not notice the old well and fell there. He hurt his leg, couldn't get out on his own. The dog found him," Lyubov recalls.

According to her, the season of rescue missions begins in summer, especially in the rush period, from July to September. People go to the forest for mushrooms and get lost. In these months, dog handlers barely have time to replace each other.

"When we receive a message about the person lost and the approximate place of his location, we go to ‘clean up the square’, that is, to check the location. This is our main job — ‘clean up the squares’. Sometimes we don't find anyone. In such cases, it is necessary to walk through the site again and again before reporting that the lost person is not here," Lyubov Petrushina explains.

One day, she went to ‘clean up the square’ with another of her dogs - a Border Collie called Ray. The request came from a woman: her husband went in the direction of the forest and disappeared. Ray explored the square and came across a man in the thicket. He was walking along the path.

"We asked if he was the one they were looking for. The man was in his right mind, said that we were wrong - he was just walking in the woods. The dog didn't find anyone else. As a result, it turned out that yet, that man was the lost one, he just wanted to get lost. He was at outs with his wife and decided to teach her a lesson, " the dog handler tells.

Keep the balance

Usually, the square area is 500 square meters. If not for the dogs, we would have had to use a search team of 10 rescuers. It takes them about eight hours to find the lost person. An animal with a dog handler and another accompanying person copes in two to three hours. Such figures are given by the rescuer Evgeny Slizovsky.

Until recently, for him to become a volunteer dog handler was undreamt of. Once I went on a rescue operation in the forest to search a girl who broke her leg. And I found not only the victim, but also a mongrel puppy.

"Peter is now one year old. He has obvious ability to find people. Now I don't go to work without him. However, our dog training team with Peter has not yet certified, so he is not included in the staff. But we are preparing for the exam," Eugene says.

The rescuer leads his minor to the playground with equipment for training. There is a soft pipe, a horizontal movable boom (a board on two barrels put on their sides), a sliding board (a gable panel), a swing like a child's (a board with the ends rising in their turns) and a ladder laid on two pillars. ‘Fetch!’ — commands Eugene and throws a rubber ring over the sliding board. Peter climbs through the pipe, step staggering onto the movable board, then climbs over the sliding board, grabs the ring, and hides with it in the pipe.

"In general, Peter should have taken the ring and climbed back over the sliding board with it. He usually gets it right. He even learned to walk on swings and stairs. Such training equipment helps the dog to get used to an unstable surface, not to be afraid. If you have to search people in a collapsed building, the dog will be able to move confidently through unstable debris," Eugene says.

According to the rescuer, he teaches Peter, and Peter teaches him: to plan time and communicate with people.

"Training with a dog requires consistency and consistency, which, in turn, affects interpersonal relationships. Peter gives me an invaluable life experience," Evgeny Slizovsky says.


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