The Two Oceans Aquarium is a magical wonderland for little children, and adults too… But recently, this popular Cape Town attraction hosted a special group of four-legged search and rescue enthusiasts who had a very important mission to fulfill. Their goal? To not get distracted by any of the shiny exhibits, fast-swimming fish or “human scents” that have been left behind by the Aquarium’s staff, volunteers, and visitors.
The K9 Search & Rescue Association of the Western Cape is a group of volunteers who train air-scenting search dogs. They conducted their after-hours training at the Aquarium, and this location was specifically chosen in order to help these canines become accustomed to various distractions such as different surfaces, noises and lighting situations.
The aim is for these dogs to remain focused and confident so that they are well-prepared for real scenarios such as heading out on search and rescue for missing hikers and following the trails of missing people in general. Their unique abilities include tracking down people in areas where humans wouldn’t consider searching.
In a blog post, the Two Oceans Aquarium explained that these search operations can sometimes take place inside of buildings, and having this complex building layout with different equipment and glass barriers served as a great test of their canine skills.
The handlers have an equally important job to fulfill. Over the two years of training a search and rescue dog, the handlers need to become well-acquainted with the dog’s body language and show attention to detail when it comes to interpreting signals so that they don’t overlook anything that the dog is trying to indicate.
If you’d love to know more about the K9 Search & Rescue Association of the Western Cape, find out here:
Picture(s): Two Oceans Aquarium