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BC for search and rescue?

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I am interested in getting a border collie pup for search and rescue work. Has anyone had any experience with this? I searched the archives but couldn't find anything; I wonder if there's something weird with mobile as the reason, I don't know.


I am also wondering if anyone has any tips on rescue adult vs working bred pup for SAR. I'm leaning toward pup to make sure they get a good training start, but would love to hear from people who actually know.


I am attending a sheepdog trial in June to see if I can make connections with someone who might be breeding, maybe talk to some more people.


Any tips? :)

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I've trained/certified three Border Collies for wilderness SAR work. Two I started as second hand young adults, one I started as a puppy. I would be comfortable going either route again.

There are some pros/cons with each but I've found them to be a six of one/half dozen of the other thing.


Are you familiar with SAR work? Are you on a team yet? Do you have someone who can help you pick a dog if you're not?

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Not yet, because I am moving this summer. I have contacted one of the teams where I'm going. I plan to join them in the fall and do as much training as I can without the dog, all the basic certifications and such, and by then I'm sure I'll have someone there who can help me with picking a dog. I'm just the kind of person who does a lot of research about things ahead of time. I've been wanting to do SAR for like....maybe 15 years? But I've never had the time or money to dedicate to it. It's possible I won't like it, but it's unlikely. I'm the right kind of personality for it. I loved FTXs in college and rainy muddy obstacle courses and all that stuff (I went to a paramilitary university). :)

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The first dog was actually chosen with sheep work in mind. He was 1.5y/o and the breeder had taken him back after selling him as a pup. I told the breeder what I was looking for, he suggested this dog rather than a pup, showed me what he looked like on stock (green, but tons of desire and nice natural talent) and I took him. Decided to get involved in SAR a few months later and Kipp was certified a little over two years later.


Second SAR dog, Kenzi, came from rescue, I fell in love with her face and description on Petfinder. I specifically looked for a solid, go anywhere temperament since my first dog (didn't do SAR with her) had some fear issues and Kipp was a bit dog reactive. Her temperament was fabulous, but it took her a long time to mature. Quite the crazy spaz until about five (energy and drive are NOT the same...). I'd be a bit more selective next time. But she's certified and working great now (7 y/o)


Third SAR dog, Kolt, came as a puppy after I unexpectedly lost Kipp to cancer. However I had had a couple years to think about what I wanted in a dog and had a list the I spent out when inquiring about pups from different breeders. He was actually a leftover pup and all his littermates were gone when I picked him up at 9.5 w/o. But he fit my list to a T. I met him, we clicked, he came home with me. He certified this past spring.


So basically, if picking a pup, look for solid, neutral to outgoing parents and a pup who is curious, confident and wants to interact with you. If picking a rescue, go for a young adult (personally, I'd look at dogs 6-18 m/o if the parentage is unknown). Pretty much the same applies, but also look for a dog who demonstrates good focus and toy/play/hunt drive in new environments. There are a couple Border Collie rescues in particular that do an excellent job with evaluating working potential (Border Collie Rescue or Minnesota comes to mind right away) there are also a couple good FB groups that BCs/BC mixes with good SAR potential come through every couple months.


Do you have Border Collie experience? Do you know what you like in the breed? They can be quite successful in SAR, but you really need to be a Border Collie person to have the best success.

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Maralynn-I have never owned a border collie. I have a golden retriever. When I got him I was interested in a BC but everyone said no no no you have no dog experience! I know Goldens aren't the same but it turns out I'm naturally really good with pretty much all dogs. I love the high energy, agile nature of a BC. I want a dog who can bike with me (moderate biking, 5-20 miles at a time), as I have stopped biking since it's no fun anymore since my Golden is too old for it. I know it would be a couple of years after getting a puppy that I'd be able to do this but I could wait that long if I couldn't find a rescue that would suit. I am also interested in a BC because of their size and athleticism to teach frisbee and agility tricks to for fun. SAR work is what really interests me though. :) I have read a lot about BCs from owners and trainers and I really think they're a good match for me and my lifestyle and I think I'd be able to raise one to be a happy, healthy pup. :)

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