Quilly, an 18-month-old Springer Spaniel who is a Search and Rescue (SAR) dog in training with Irelands Specialist Search and Rescue Dogs (ISSARD). As a puppy, Quilly was a placid little dog and was stuck to me from the moment I first held him. It was love at first sight for both of us! He was a very busy pup and being a working line springer means he never runs out of energy, so we were looking for something to meet his needs both physically and mentally.
We came across Hounds and Helis, where we learned about Mantrailing as a sport. Mantrailing is where we teach the dogs to find a missing person.
We did our introduction to Mantrailing with Hounds and Helis in July of 2022, which provided an incredible outlet of enrichment for Quilly. He took to it instantly and soon it became his favourite thing to do! When I walked downstairs in my trailing gear, Quilly would be so excited at the idea of going trailing!
Quilly works on a long line and is given an item belonging to the missing person to sniff at the start of the search. Quilly will then put his noise to the ground, finds the missing person’s trail and follow it until he reaches the missing person. Then he gets a really tasty reward and a big play session!
Quilly’s training has had its ups and downs.
In October of 2022, Quilly became somewhat fearful of strangers, loud noises, etc. After doing some research and speaking to professionals, it was thought he was going through a developmental stage called a ‘fear period’. This fear period was very tough on our family. I found it difficult to walk him in busy areas, and having friends over to the house was too much for him to cope with at times. This had no impact on Quilly’s love for Mantrailing, so this activity became even more important to us. With the help of our Mantrailing friends and Mantrailing itself, Quilly has completely come out of his shell and has gone back to his confident, happy self.
Search & Rescue.
Quilly’s drive and love for the game made me realise that I wanted to go further with Mantrailing. I began looking into Search and Rescue Dog teams in Ireland. We attended Hounds and Helis “Search and Rescue Dog Workshop” in January of this year where we met incredible people from all professions in search and rescue. Soon after, we began to help search and rescue dog teams with their training by volunteering to hide for their dogs.
Eventually, we became members of Irelands Specialist Search and Rescue Dogs (ISSARD) and Quilly has been thriving! We work hard on our Mantrailing skills and typically train once or twice a week and one full weekend per month at team training but I’m hoping to train much more.
The ISSARD team
The ISSARD team recently did Ireland’s first ever International Bloodhound Training Institute (INBTI) with Monica Diaz. The INBTI is an international organisation that trains and assesses SAR D0gs. The INBTI was hosted here in Ireland by Hounds and Helis to provide workshops and training with SAR Dog Handlers and we are due to do a second INBTI seminar with Kevin Pirtle this September.
Being as ISSARD dog means that Quilly’s training doesn’t just involve looking for missing people. Part of becoming an operational search dog with ISSARD is the Registration Test. This consists of two parts,
1. The Obedience Test and
2. The Stock Test.
As a SAR dog in training, Quilly needs to have a high standard of obedience and show he is safe to work around stock like sheep, cattle, horses etc. In preparation for these tests, Quilly has been working very hard on his recall, down stay and much more. He has also been hanging around lots of sheep and cattle for his stock test. Quilly is thriving and with the help of our friends on the ISSARD team, I know he will pass these tests with ease!
Quilly and I have our sights firmly set on becoming a certified search and rescue team through ISSARD and help find missing people in Ireland.
Thanks for sharing Lilly & Quilly
Lilly is only 14. She along with her mam are training Quilly to be a Mantrailing SAR dog. Once Lilly turns 18 yrs of age, she will be eligible for assessment with Quilly.
Thanks for sharing you story Lilly & Quilly. We wish you all the best with everything you are both going to achieve in the future.
Irelands Specialist Search & Rescue Dogs