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Unmasking the life of search and rescue dogs

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    15:51, September 28, 2016

Search and rescue (SAR) dogs have played a crucial role in natural disaster relief for years, yet their lives and training remain largely unfamiliar to the public.

Before they grow into qualified SAR dogs, qualifying puppies go through a strict selection process and tough training. Duan Chaohua, a squadron leader at the SAR training base in Yunnan province, said that SAR dogs are usually selected from mild breeds such as golden retriever, Labrador, Springer and Malinois. SAR has strict requirements for the dogs' obedience, focus, patience and adaptability.

SAR dogs are selected as puppies, immediately after they are born, according to Duan. Training begins at six months, and it usually takes one to two years for dogs to become SAR-certified, said Zhao Jiayun, a handler at the training base.

The daily courses of SAR dogs include obedience training, box-hunting and obstacle-climbing. They are also trained in simulated scenarios where they must ignore distractions such as meat, toy balls and used clothes to search for survivors.

Dogs enter service only after passing a strict examination. A dog's length of service is usually five to six years, and all SAR dogs are generously maintained even after retiring. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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