Orion practices his hunting technique

Orion practices his hunting technique

A new recruit is hoping to become a star member of a Yorkshire rescue team.

Orion, an 11-week-old springer spaniel will begin training with Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team shortly.

The pup carries distinctive markings on his back that have been likened to the pattern in the constellation Orion’s Belt. The team said, as Orion is the mythological Greek hunter, the name seemed doubly appropriate.

The dog’s handler Gary Smith of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, will undertake training with his animal, which is expected to last about two years.

A team spokesperson said: “Gary joined CVSRT in 2015 and has been very actively involved with the development of our current search dogs by regularly volunteering as a ‘dogsbody’ for training, and also assisting as a navigator for our search dog handlers when they are deployed on callouts.

Handler Gary Smith with Orion

Handler Gary Smith with Orion

“For those of you unfamiliar with the term, dogsbodies are highly valued people in the development of a search dog. These volunteers go out on the hill in all weather conditions to hide for the dogs to find on training exercises and assessments courses. They are essential and help to hone the dogs’ senses.”

Search dogs have been a part of the Calder Valley team since 1977. Over the years there have been 15 dogs and 10 handlers helping the team on searches.

The dogs are trained to air scent so, as a rule, they do not track the missing person, but react to wind-borne human scent. A search dog can cover large areas of ground, including difficult terrain and woodland in the search and is very sensitive to any human scent it finds.

It will immediately follow a scent to its source. It will then ‘indicate’ to its handler, usually by barking, to let them know it has made a find. It is not unusual for a dog to pick up a scent from a missing person 500m or more away.

Orion has his own Facebook page so the public can follow his progress.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a dogsbody can contact the Calder Valley team by email.

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