6 Traits of a Heroic Canine

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Possessing incomparable drive, heart, stamina and intensity, an SDF search dog is no ordinary canine, yet his roots are humbler than most. Amazingly, his journey starts with a rescue.

SDF recruits their dogs from shelters and breed rescue groups. Search dog candidates are often designated too high-energy by their original families, and face uncertain futures. But once adopted by SDF, they’re guaranteed a lifetime of care. Dogs that don’t complete the program are placed in permanent loving homes. When our brave search dogs retire from active duty serving our nation, they live out the rest of their lives with their dedicated handlers.

Training at the SDF’s partner facility at Gilroy, CA is rigorous and crucial to building a bond between the dog and their first-responder handler. This team is forged in simulated disaster exercises and deep friendship.

They become an inseparable entity unified in their unwavering dedication to save lives, with their efforts culminating in FEMA certification. Once training is complete, the rescued dog becomes a rescuer and a worthy ambassador of the Search Dog pledge: “No one is left behind.”

The Makings of a Hero

What Characteristics does your dog share with the heroic canines of the Search Dog Foundation?  Run through our set of search dog traits and see how your pooch measures up.  You may have a hero in your own home!

1. Energetic Athletes Inquire Within

If your dog amazes you with feats of agility at the dog park, he may be search dog material!  These tireless canines must be nimble enough to navigate the twisted metal and unstable piles of a disaster site.

2. “Nose-iness” Is a Good Thing

Is your dog led by his nose?  A search dog’s sense of smell is his most valuable tool in finding survivors in wreckage.

3. Bold is Beautiful

Search dogs undertake life-saving missions in conditions full of startling noises, like wailing sirens and grumbling bulldozers

4. Give Me My Toy Now!

There’s no place you can hide your dog’s toy where he won’t find it.  This high prey drive also spurs a search dog-at the end of the day, he knows he’ll be rewarded with a toy for a job well done.

5. It’s in the Breeding

Hunting and herding breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Boarder Collies, exhibit qualities of search dogs

6. With Age Comes Wisdom

Ideally, a search dog candidate is 10-18 months old.


The NATURAL CHOICE® Brand believes in making the world a better place for people—and for dogs, too. That’s why we’re honored to have been chosen by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation as their exclusive pet food partner in support of its noble mission to rescue dogs, train them to save lives, and pair them with firefighters in service to America. It’s our commitment to help Search Dog Foundation strengthen our nation’s emergency response network by increasing the number of FEMA-certified search dog teams. These extraordinary heroes stand at the ready for deployment to natural and terrorist disaster sites. Their focus: to find life amid the ruins and hope amongst the rubble.  For more information about the National Search Dog Foundation, go www.searchdogfoundation.org.

“I’ve fed my partner and best friend, Abby, NATURAL CHOICE® dog food since she was a puppy, and it’s the only pet food I’ll ever use. With the demands of search dog training, I trust NATURAL CHOICE® to provide her with the premium nutrition she needs to maintain maximum performance.
—Debra Tosch, Executive Director, Search Dog Foundation

This is a special article featured in the Fall 2008 issue of Cutter’s Mill Newsletter, filled with savings and information on healthy and natural pets.

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