Meet Rusty, a red short-coated collie with one thing on his mind.

Four year old Search & Lowland Rescue Dog Rusty has had a great year, with his first “live find” last summer. He clocked up over 40 search operations in just 12 months. (Yet another way in which the pandemic has made its presence felt in Hampshire is the 20% rise in search callouts.)

Rusty is a short-haired collie – a very different look, though similar working profile as the better known border collie.

Rusty is lucky to be working with one of the most experienced handlers in the country, Kevin Saunders MBE – who has been a Search & Rescue volunteer for 15 years.

Kev talks to Dogs with Jobs presenter Kate Fairweather about the rigorous national training standards the dogs must reach in search and rescue, and the thrill of a dog’s first “live find”.

He describes how he nurtures a dog’s talents to the point that it is fully confident in its ability, and is fascinating on the subtle shift in the relationship between dog and handler, as it becomes a fully fledged working partnership.

Rusty and Zak are normal family pets – they love a sofa! But they spring into into action in under five minutes when on call.

Rusty has big paw-prints to fill – Kev’s first search dog Zak, now retired, was something of a legend.

Kev worked Zak, Rusty’s predecessor, for 11 years. Zak loved the job, and would search now if he could.

While the veteran search dog snoozes in the van, Kev talks about his work with Hampshire Search & Rescue – a role that is both a vocation but also an unpaid second job, absorbing around 1,000 hours of Kev’s time a year.

Find out more about Hampshire Search & Rescue Dogs and the amazing work they do.

Do you work your dog?

If you would consider talking about your dog or dogs to Kate Fairweather, please get in touch! Email us at Sporting dogs, service dogs, assistance dogs, the more the merrier! There can never be too many dogs on Dogs with Jobs! Or nominate a friend who works their dog or dogs.