Want to be a K9 Handler?

K9 Handlers are at the heart of MARK9's SAR operations.  Each K9 team undergoes over a year of weekly training prior to becoming mission ready.  In addition to weekly team training, K9 handlers are expected to train their partners multiple times throughout the week to ensure proficiency of the K9 team.

Each K9 team is required to pass a team certification in order to be deemed mission-ready.  Once the K9 team is deemed mission-ready, they are then deployable for all searches for which they are certified. 

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my current dog for Search and Rescue?

Maybe. Prior to a dog joining the team it must first be evaluated by the K9 Team Leader. This evaluation ensures that the dog has the drive, focus, endurance, and agility for Search and Rescue work. Unfortunately most "pet" dogs are not suitable for SAR work as they do not have the drive and motivation to work for hours at a time in search of missing people. Most dogs that work in SAR are from Field Trial/Working bloodlines and have been bred for generations to have a high work ethic. While not exclusive to these breeds, common breeds for SAR work are Retrievers, Shepherds, and Collies. Ultimately any dog is capable of SAR work as long as it has the appopriate amount of motivation, drive, and work ethic regardless of the breed or bloodline. *Dogs older then 3 years of age (at the start of training), or less then 35lbs (at maturaity) are unfortunatley not suitable for SAR work.

Will MARK9 train my dog?

No, but we will help you. Once your dog passes it's evaluation, MARK9 will train you on how to train your dog. You will be expected to attend weekly trainings, where you will receive new tips and tools from the K9 Team Leader. Throughout the week you will be expected to implement the lessons that you learned during the previous week's training.

How long will it be before my dog can participate in a search?

Approximately 18 months from the date the dog starts training. The key to SAR training is consistency and repitition, both of which take time. Accordingly you can expect approximately 18 months before your dog is considered mission ready. Some dogs will certify quicker and others will certify slower, but ~18 months is a realistic gauge. During your K9 training you will learn the basics of SAR, how to operate with the team, and become a certified member of MARK9 in addition to training your dog. Prior to any dog being deployed on a search it must first pass a battery of tests administered by the team. These tests are essential to make sure that your dog is ready to save lives.

How much training do I have to do?

MARK9 trains approximately 50 weeks of the year for 4 hours each weekend. You will be expected to attend the majority of these trainings. It's also necessary to include driving time, when you calculate the training commitement. MARK9 trains across the DFW metroplex, so depending on where you live the drive to training may be relatively short, or it could be over a hour each way.

Is Search and Rescue a "Dog Sport" or a fun hobby?

"Definetly Not" Dog Sports such as agility, obedience, dock diving, barn hunt, nose work, etc. are all great activties, to do with your dog. Although they are all fun activites their level of difficutly or commitment do not compare to Search and Rescue. Search and Rescue is not a game or a sport, it is a crucial service that families depend on to find their missing loved ones. More then a hobby Search and Rescue is more akin to an unpaid job, and that's how serious the members of MARK9 take it.

This seems like a lot of time and effort, is SAR really worth the trouble?

Absolutely! If you have the time and dedication, Search and Rescue will be one of (if not the) most rewarding thing that you ever do. We are honored to be able to serve our community and help our neighboors in their time of greatest need. The service that we offer is unfortunately essential, and without Search and Rescue teams many families would never find their loved ones. The ability to serve directly with law enforcement and bring someone's loved one home is a feeling and honor that is impossible to quantify with words. However once you experience it the many hours of training disappear with the satisfaction of giving a grieving family closure.