He was recruited by Essex County within days, with handler Graham Currie saying that Bailey is a ‘total natural’ and very ‘nimble’. Currie said: ‘After testing Bailey’s drive for a tennis ball and checking he had no aggression towards other dogs or people, I offered to take him on six-week trial.’ Though Bailey was nervous getting into the van for search and rescue trials as he thought he was getting taken it away, it only took 24 hours to re-associate it with going somewhere fun. Currie was originally reluctant to take on a Labrador for search and rescue, as the breed does not usually have the right skills for such a job: ‘They can be greedy and distracted with food.
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‘I was looking for a Springer, Cocker or Sprocker Spaniel because I’ve found they are less stubborn and easier to train.’
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But Bailey has the drive for search and is not greedy for food, making him perfectly able to be part of a search and rescue team.
‘In the vehicle barn, there was a rugby ball on a ledge above the gym weights and he wouldn’t give up until he got it – that’s the kind of determination we are looking for in a search dog,’ Currie said.
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‘By the third day, I was 95% sure he was the one.’
Bailey is 18 months to two years old and has now completed seven days of training, with Currie claiming that ‘nothing fazes him’.
‘A police trainer and colleague said if we could clone this dog all our problems would be solved. He was described as unruly, untrainable, unsociable, rude, and stubborn. But a dog that cost us £185 has turned out to be the most incredible creature.’
Bailey is already doing blind searching, which is using his nose to find people, and will search buildings very methodically.
Always be consistent. Half-assed efforts will deliver half-assed results. Consistency is the key to success in all endeavors in life. Training a dog is no different. Learning about your dog is also a consistent effort. Quality time with your dog should be consistent and ongoing.
Though it usually takes between 18 months and three years to train a search and rescue dog, Bailey could be fully trained and working as early as April.Bailey has been nicknamed the Polar Bear because of his size, and when he gets to work, he will be one of just 20 dogs used by Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams to help find and rescue trapped or lost people. He will also be a part of the UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team, travelling to various disaster zones across the world to help people in danger.
Currie will be training Bailey to take over from one of his other dogs, Jarvis, an eight-year-old Cocker Spaniel when he retires. Currie said of Bailey: ‘We’ve landed on our feet with Bailey – and so has he, because he has a lovely home now,’ based at the Essex County Fire Rescue Service’s USAR site in Colchester.
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‘We are super proud,’ Currie added.
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