Animal World
Canine Heroes from the US and China: Absaroka Search Dogs and Hebei Baoding Rescue Dogs Training Center      
HOST: Search-and-rescue dogs serve on the frontlines locating people missing after natural disasters, lost children, injured hikers and others, being ready at a moment’s notice to bravely endure the elements and save lives. Supreme Master Ching Hai, world renowned humanitarian, artist and spiritual teacher, speaks of her admiration and concern for these devoted canines.

SM: And I saw many dogs, you know, they used for rescue mission. Oh, they just walk in like nothing, but I feel so bad about them. The dogs walk in the sharp, broken glasses or anything like that, even chemical leaking or anything, or germs or danger.

SM: And these are precious dogs. They have been trained for years. And they even lay down their life for anyone at command. You have to protect that dog.

HOST: To show her loving support for search dogs and their human partners, Supreme Master Ching Hai has generously contributed over US$80,000 to search-and-rescue teams in 18 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, South Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Panama, the Philippines, Slovenia, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. On today’s program we’re delighted to feature two of these brave teams, one from Montana, USA and the other from Baoding City, Hebei, China.

Chris Dover (f): It is a labor of love and I’ve worked with search dogs for 20-something years and I’m still fascinated when I watch them work. And I just like to sit back and watch the dog do what they do best, and they certainly love what they’re doing. It’s inspiring to see just how much they get focused on just finding that person that’s out there.

HOST: Absaroka Search Dogs is an all-volunteer search-and-rescue team dedicated to finding lost or missing persons.

Chris Dover (f): We’ve been in operation since 1987, so I think that’s close to 25 years and we used to cover the entire state of Montana (USA). We were the first search-dog organization in Montana, and we’ve since branched out and formed smaller organizations around the state that cover smaller areas. But we pretty much cover about the eastern two-thirds of the state now.

HOST: Human team members are professionally trained and well-equipped for search-and-rescue operations. Most of them have learned wilderness emergency medicine, while all have advanced first aid certification and can provide immediate life support to injured victims. Currently the group has four working search teams.

Crystal Arnold (f): We generally can be loaded and in the car within a half an hour. We keep all of our gear according to what type of search, whether we're going into the mountains, whether we're going out into fields, or if we're dealing with snow.

HOST: The canine members of Absaroka Search Dogs are trained in trailing and air scenting. They have experience in conducting drowning, avalanche and human-remains searches.

Chris Dover (f): There’s trailing certification, which is following where people have walked, the scent that they leave on the ground and the scent that comes off their body and gets caught along the pathway. There’s area search certification, which is searching for the airborne scent that’s blowing off the subject.

We also have certifications in water search, cadaver search, and avalanche search. There’s national certification in collapsed-structure search which we have not done very much of because we don’t have a training facility for that. There’s evidence search. But primarily our dogs become certified in trailing or area search or both. Then once they start, they will go on and specialize in water, which we get a lot of drownings in water searches, cadaver search and avalanche search.

HOST: Let’s meet Lila, a six-year-old Belgian Tervuren, who specializes in air scenting as well as water and cadaver searches.

Crystal Arnold (f): Lila specializes in air scent. So she works into the wind and she will look for any human scent as well as being scent specific. So we can give her the scent of one specific person and she'll find them. She also does water searching and cadaver (searching).

Crystal Arnold (f): Last year we seemed to focus primarily on rivers and drownings. So we did quite a bit of river work, and the dogs can work from a boat or they can work from shore. Again, we try to work into the wind. River work is probably the hardest thing to do because you're working towards the scent and you just kind of watch the dog's body language and then once you've gone past the scent where the person may be, they'll lose interest. So you have to try and pinpoint and figure out where that lack of interest is. And then you can go back and zero in and then we call in divers. And it's a different resource that we bring in.

HOST: Our Association members presented Absaroka Search Dogs with US$1,000 from Supreme Master Ching Hai to purchase protective gear for the adorable, selfless canine heroes.

Chris Dover (f): Well, thank you very much. This will go a long ways towards keeping our dogs safe. And this is just fantastic, and this is what allows our dog unit to stay at the top of the game. I thank you very much.

HOST: Later Mark Polakoff, vice president of Absaroka Search Dogs sent a kind letter to Supreme Master Ching Hai, the following of which is an excerpt.

VOICE1: On behalf of the members of Absaroka Search Dogs, I would like to express our appreciation for the generous donation that your Association is making to our organization. Your donation will assist us in equipping our teams with important items for assuring the safety of our canine partners. The donation will be used to purchase canine flotation devices for each of the dogs. We will also be purchasing veterinary first aid supplies including special dressings that stop active bleeding from wounds, and booties designed to fit over bulky dressings. We will be purchasing fleece coats for the dogs, which we use in the extreme temperatures of our Montana winters. Again, thank you for your generous donation to Absaroka Search dogs.

HOST: We’ll next visit the Baoding Search and Rescue Dog Training Center based in Baoding, a city located in China’s Hebei Province.

Wang (f): We are a civil organization. It means that we take care of all the training expenses and give all these training classes by ourselves. There are not many rescue dogs in China. We hope that through our efforts, more people will join in. Now, We provide our services free of charge to those who need help.

For example, last time in Beijing, an old man got lost at the Great Wall. We just went there, and we didn’t ask for any payment. We just want to raise people’s awareness of these kind of activities, and let more people know the value of rescue dogs. We hope that more people will support us.

Zou YI (m): Rescue dogs play an important role in rescue missions. They can shorten the rescue time, and find the exact location of the victims.

HOST: What types of dogs are suitable to take on the work of search and rescue?

Interviewee (m): The Belgian Shepherd that we just took out is the most common dog breed used for search and rescue around the world nowadays, even more common than German Shepherds. They get especially excited when they are working. Normally that kind of dog needs to be trained from a young age. They are very loyal to their caregivers and like to have one-on-one relationship with the caregiver. So the trainer should spend time to establish a good relationship with them, in order to strengthen their loyalty.

Interviewee (m): To train dogs for various purposes, including search-and-rescue, we need to first pick those that have a real leader potential. So in hundreds of dogs, we perhaps can only find one that is suitable for search-and-rescue missions.

HOST: Let’s join a training session with the four-month-old Princess!

SMTV: Is she looking for you via your voice or your smell?

Interviewee (m): She is looking for me via my feeble voice now. Later, when she grows up, she will learn to look for me via the smell. She will know how to find someone via the smell of their footsteps. Princess. Okay. Princess.

SMTV(m): Now I am going to conduct a simulated search training. I will hide this bottle somewhere and let the dog find it by following my smell. This is to train him in searching for missing persons.

Wang (f): Peter tracked the bottle by following the smell of the footsteps.

HOST: During real-life rescue missions, brave, responsible search-and-rescue dogs risk their lives plunging through ruins and debris to look for survivors.

Interviewee (m): Peter was the dog who went with us to the Great Wall last time. During the rescue mission, he was injured on the foot by a caltrop. His foot was pierced by the caltrop’s spikes. Actually, such injury cases occur even more during earthquake rescue missions, because after an earthquake, there will be debris, such as sharp broken steel bars or broken glass. Under that kind of circumstances, rescue dogs get hurt very easily.

We have bought shoes for Peter. Next time when we encounter similar situations, we will put shoes on him to effectively protect his feet from being pierced. Then he will be safer in his rescue missions. I think we should train rescue dogs to wear shoes when they are young. Then he will get used to it. It will be helpful when they grow up and carry out rescue missions.

HOST: To prevent injuries to the eager canines during their benevolent work, Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed US$1,000 to the Center to purchase safety equipment for them. The Center bought dog booties with the funds. As a token of thanks to the Center for its honorable work of serving humanity in times of need, Supreme Master Ching Hai also provided the members with some gifts including her #1 international bestsellers “The Dogs in My Life” and “The Noble Wilds.”

Interviewee (m): In the future, we will let the dogs wear shoes while carrying out rescue missions so that the dogs can be better protected and their missions can be accomplished more smoothly. We will also promote this idea and tell other rescue teams to put shoes on dogs during their missions. We will let more people know about it. For these two books, we will read them carefully. Thank you, Supreme Master Ching Hai and your organization. Thank you!

HOST: Absaroka Search Dogs and Baoding Search and Rescue Dog Training Center, may Heaven always bless and protect all your members and we thank you for compassionately dedicating your time and energy to safeguarding the lives of others. We wish you great success in your future noble endeavors.

For more details on Absaroka Search Dogs, please visit

OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. May humans and animals forever live in harmony and always help one another.

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