Search And Rescue Dog In Training

A collapsed building drives one student to teach her dog how to help in emergencies

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A little over one week ago, we learned how talented and vital search and rescue dogs can be.

On Dec. 2 when the former Copper Lounge came crumbling down, it was a four legged first responder that helped locate the last known victim.

This has inspired one Parker High School student to train her dog to one day be able to do the same.

“It’s a team of a dog and a handler,” says Samantha Menning.

When Menning found out she had to do a senior project in order to graduate; one that requires the students to go out and learn something new, she knew hers was going to include a one-and-a-half-year-old German Sheppard, Blu.

“We’re preparing for certification hopefully soon,” says Menning. “However, she is still in training.”

Blu is training to be a search and rescue dog.

“She has to show a lot of interest because to them it’s a game,” says Menning.

Like, sniffing out which cones have treats under them or being the seeker in hide and seek.

“She has a lot of improvements to make, but she’s showing a lot of potential,” the future handler says.

That potential could one day live up to Rapid City Fire Department’s search and rescue dog Cisco.

Cisco flew in to Sioux Falls when a building collapsed in downtown.

He helped recover the body of Ethan McMahon who was unaccounted for under the rubble.

“They definitely brought in the right dog to do the job,” says Menning. “That kind of shows the public how good of a job a rescue dog can do. That makes me want to be a good search and rescue dog handler too, so we can help in potential dangers.”

Until then, Menning plans to work with Blu every day, which is something she doesn’t consider a project anymore.

“We have this connection that my parents and my friends see and they’re just like ‘I don’t think you can go a day without each other’,” says Menning. “I know we can’t, because we are definitely made for each other.”

Menning hopes she and her partner will be certified by the time she graduates in May.

The senior is learning how to train Blu through the organizations Prairie Dog Search and Rescue and Big Paws Canine.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue currently does not have a search and rescue dog, which is why one was flown in from Rapid City.

The department says there isn’t enough activity here to keep it trained.

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