Dog Days – Diving with the Swedish sea rescue dogs
Sweden currently has seven sea rescue dogs who, together with their handlers, assist in the search for lost people on land, in or under the water. Thanks to its fantastic sense of smell, the dog can pick up the scent of a person several kilometers away or at least 10 meters deep.
Darkness, snow, rain, fog or other weather conditions that would impair a human’s search ability does not affect the dog, the nose works just as well anyway.
The dog and handler undergo two years of training, are tested annually and are constantly training in new and challenging situations in order to be ready when the alarm goes. We co-operate and practice with different sea rescue stations, helicopter units, diving groups and more.
In 2018, we had a larger exercise at the Rörö Sea Rescue Station, where we gathered six of the country’s dogs to train and develop together.
We practiced in harbours, out in open water and island areas. We also got a chance to practice with the Öckerödorarna, a local dive group that helped us train the dogs with people underwater.
The divers had both closed and open systems and were at a depth of about 10 meters. Each dog quickly picked up a scent and expressed clearly the location of the people under the water. This is an excellent assurance for both handlers and divers alike to know that the dogs are just as effective on water as they are on land.
The dog handler is also a volunteer sea rescue and crew person at one of the Sea Rescue Society’s stations. However, the sea rescue dogs and their handlers do not belong to any one station but together they are on call 24 hours a day to help throughout the country.
Both the dogs and the handlers are subject to great stress during their work on the water and in order to be able to work for many hours, it is important that they are equipped with high quality, durable clothes and equipment.