Justice’s Search & Rescue Test
He was tested at 69 Days
On Monday, August 9th, I decided it was time to start the search for a male pup who would grow up to be my new stud dog, especially for Cantor daughters and granddaughters. The search usually takes months, so I was amazed the next day to get an email from Clarissa Negaard in Belgrade, MT, whose dog Toby I tried to breed Mercy to in June (and failed). Toby was the sire of Spirit’s first litter (the MM litter). Clarissa told me that she had a litter by Toby, continuing two males, that was 9 weeks old.
My Search & Rescue tester (Bonnie) lives very close to Clarissa and agreed to test the two males. Thursday night she tested the two males in the litter. I was really wanting a sable this time around. The sable male tested exceptionally well, and after a lengthy phone conversation with Bonnie, I decided to take him.
From how my testers have rated litters over the years, the test sheet has the following possible boxes they can check: 10, 10-9, 9.5, 9, 9-8, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 through 1. And they sometimes rate something a 10+.
Acceptance/Attachment The first test involves evaluating the pup’s acceptance of the strange place and its willingness to interact with the stranger. Ideal reaction is eye contact and interest in the stranger but no sign of nervousness in the interaction (we don’t want a “Protect me!” attitude), followed by visual investigation of the surroundings and then a return of attention to the tester.
Comments: This as one of the first times he was placed with a new person all by himself. He adapted well after initial upset.
Eye Contact Desire to connect with the tester by looking them in the eye was noted.
Comments: Not initially
Confidence The confidence part of the test involves holding the pup out at arm’s length for several seconds. Again, the pup should accept the handler putting it in position and remain calm.
Comments: Struggled; didn’t like it
Independence How comfortable is the pup, will it work away from the tester or does it stay underfoot? Or does it avoid dealing with the tester by staying away and playing on its own.
Rating: 10+ to 9
Comments: Quickly adapted and went off exploring. Went to look for me when I was doing the second dog.
Pain Sensitivity The loose skin over the ribs is gently pinched and the pup’s reaction is noted. Ideal reaction is to notice the pinch but be unconcerned by it. We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.
Retrieve Next, willingness to retrieve is evaluated using different toys and balls. Ideal reaction is to repeatedly being the toy back to the handler rather than moving off to “possess” it. The type of bite on the toys is evaluated: a full mouth bite shows more confidence and drive than a front-teeth-only bite.
Comments: New game – didn’t know it. Did pick it up for a second. (Hadn’t seen ball/toys before)
Metal Object Tester tosses a set of car keys and observes to see if pup will put its mouth on it, pick it up and/or retrieve it.
Comments: checked out – no interest
Perseverance (Chase) Then perseverance is evaluated by seeing how enthusiastically they will pursue and grab hold of an object. Ideal reaction is to pursue enthusiastically and grasp with a full mouth bite.
Comments: extremely persistent
Tug Ideal reaction is a full mouth bite, tug and do everything possible to possess the object. We like to see a pup get its whole body on the sack/rope/toy in an effort to subdue it.
Comments: Seemed like a new game but he will do very well.
Prey Drive Strength of desire to chase and attack is evaluated.
Hunt for Toy While playing with ball or soft toy, hide it and encourage pup to use nose to find. Interest? How long will pup search? Uses nose or eyes? Two agility barrels were set on their sides to form tunnels in line with each other, separated by cushions. When thrown through tunnel, will the pup go through after the toy?
Comments: Not real interested in the toys for more than a few minutes.
Unstable Footing Since SAR dogs will search in all kinds of terrain and areas of destruction, they must be confident in insecure situations. Bonnie spread out of various objects (piles of boards, etc.) that made a rough, unsteady surface. Toys were thrown or drug over the unstable area.
Comments: No concern on anything – explored all over on his own.
Submission The submission test is designed to give an idea of the pup’s tractability, trust in humans, and willingness to submit to a human’s directives. In the submission test the pup is held firmly on its back for a short period of time. The tester counts the seconds it takes for him to resist, then accept, the restraint. She should not passively accept the restraint, nor should she panic or show avoidance of eye contact. Ideal reaction is to resist, then submit and look the tester in the face. We also look for a willingness to forgive the tester.
Comments: Never accepted. Fought throughout.
Runaway The tester shows pup food or a toy, gets its interest, then runs away. She observes how eagerly the pup comes and how naturally it uses its nose to find her once she hides.
Did not do since had no help.
Reaction to Strange Objects Test was conducted in Bonnie’s husband’s shop, with all kinds of things Justice had never seen.
Comments: Everything here was new to his world. He knocked things over with no concerns.
Cadaver Test A jar containing human cadaver material was placed on the floor where the pup would pass it. Its reaction and interest or lack of interest were noted.
Comments: Very interested. Used his nose to find it.
Wagon Test The pup is placed in a wagon. One tester walks to the side to keep the pup from jumping out, while the other pulls it around the room.
Did not do since had no help.
Courage Test Courage is normally evaluated using something that vibrates, makes noise and moves erratically. Bonnie didn’t say if she used anything in particular.
Comments: Nothing seemed to concern him, even knocking things over.
Fear A metal can filled with metal items (hinges, bolts, etc.) is dropped behind them from a height of about 2 feet while they are looking away from it.
Comments: No reaction
Surprise This test involves getting the pup to follow you (or a toy) towards a place with a hidden person, from behind which an umbrella is opened suddenly and then lowered to the ground, still open. The pups are evaluated on how they recover from being startled and if they’ll go investigate. Ideal reaction is for the pup to startle but hold its ground, then move right up to check out the umbrella. A super excellent reaction is to go up and bite it and/or walk all over it.
Wasn’t able to do this as I was alone with him. I don’t suspect he would have issues.
Hunt for Food I This test begins with a hot dog tied on a string and dragged to attract the pup’s interest and see how interested it is, how hard it will work to get it, and how hard it will work to keep it as the tester jerks, tugs and generally prevents the pup from easily eating it. They also hold it high to see if the pup will look up to search for it.
Comments: Latched right on and never gave up!
Hunt for Food II The testers hid treats under a tarp. I took homemade salmon treats. The pups had to use their noses to find where the treats were. They were judged on how they how they used their noses and how systematic their searching was.
Comments: Unbelievable persistence! (see video with the hot dog on the table). I left him alone for 1 minute to get the cadaver and he never stopped hunting on his own. (I can email video to anyone who wants to see it)
Puppy Drag Something is drug so that it moves enticingly as the tester moves around, so the pups focus on biting and tugging on them instead of me.
Comments: First time ever (seeing something like it) & he hopped right on, biting and holding.
General Comments: When first left alone with me in a strange place he showed near panic – jumping on me & vocalizing while trying to escape. Within 2-3 minutes he settled in and began to explore and interact. He showed happy independence, nice people reaction/interaction, nice prey drive & very strong, persistent hunt drive. EXCELLENT working prospect! Very nice pup! Quite the persistent little hunter, very impressive! He’s a very busy fellow with nice drives. He’s behind on a few things (retrieve, manners – lots of jumping) but I really like him and would highly consider him for a working dog for myself. It’s a bit frustrating to see where he could be right now if she would do more with them as they develop. I think he’s at a good bonding period. He latched into me pretty quick. He’s not super dark – very nice markings, very handsome. I really like this pup, Cel. I’m excited already to think of his potential with your girls. He will be a handful, though!