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Collie trains as Britain’s first underwater search dog

Posted by: David Howells  Date: 05/06/2013   Category: Latest News

A three year-old border collie has become the first in Britain to become an underwater sniffer dog, theboltonnews.co.uk reports.

Sasha, from Greater Manchester, has been in training for the last 12 months to become a Drowned Victim Search Dog, becoming the first in Britain to do so. Her in-depth training has now enabled Sasha to use her superior sense of smell to identify people that are under water up to 100 feet away.

Sasha’s potential was first noted by dog expert Neil Powell when she was just seven months old. Powell then handed her over to renowned trainer Dave Marsh for training as a mountain rescue dog, after the pair both realised that her innate skill would require special treatment. Soon, she was being trained in the advanced art of finding victims underwater.

The training involved placing “bait” that emitted the same scent as humans underwater, before heading out on a boat and waiting for Sasha to bark once she picked up the smell. Using her barking, those sailing the boat would map out an area of around 50 metres, in which divers would then be sent to search.

Now, after 12 months of training, Sasha has become the first underwater search dog in Britain and is just one more assessment away from being signed off as a fully-fledged Mountain Rescuer. The test looks to be a formality, however, as Sasha has already successfully completed similar staged missions to those which will be used formally in August.

If she passes, Sasha will then be taken out on mountain rescues to help teams find stricken individuals, wherever they are. Then, with operations over, Sasha can retire to her dog bed after a day’s work – even if it might not feel as such.

Commenting on the dog’s efforts, Marsh told dailymail.co.uk: “Sasha is great to work with. She’s the first of her kind in Britain. I picked her up as a seven-month old puppy from a trainer who said she’d make a good underwater dog. Nothing like this has been done in Britain before.”