May 27, 2024


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High five: Silvio Hertwig and Old German Shepherd Bones are a great team. The 3-year-old dog recently became a trained rescue dog and is helping to search for missing people.
High five: Silvio Hertwig and Old German Shepherd Bones are a great team. The 3-year-old dog recently became a trained rescue dog and is helping to search for missing people. ©THW

Melsungen’s technical relief organization has a new and unusual member. Bones, an old German sheepdog, helps members rescue people.

Melsungen – 3 years old dog with yellow cheeks – a special breed and type of herding dog.

Bones trained at the Schwalmstadt branch of the Technical Relief Agency (THW). According to the Melsunger local association, this shape is so far unique.

Dog handlers have been an integral part of the team for many years

The dog trainer is Silvio Hertwig. He has been an integral part of the local association in Melsungen for over 10 years.

As the representative of the administration, he is responsible for everything that occurs in the operation of the authority. Tasks range from claiming fuel receipts to maintaining data for emergency services.

When he purchased Bones, he wanted to get the most out of this dog.

Trained as a rescue dog

Experimenting with dog sports and mane-trailing wasn’t the right thing to do, Hartwig said. It was one of his options to train as a rescue dog at THW, especially since he was a trained helper himself.

Born in April 2021, Bones began training in February 2023 and successfully completed training with his handler in the spring.

The closest opportunity for training was at the local branch in Schwalmstadt.

Tracking group searching for missing person

THW there has a group of location experts. For example, members search for missing people in areas and debris, such as after an earthquake.

THW members need technical assistance, and rescue dogs play a central role in their efforts.

Training to become a rescue dog requires certain requirements

Training to become a rescue dog at a technical rescue agency requires certain requirements. Upon reaching the preliminary examination, the dog must not be older than 6 years.

“Preparation time varies from dog to dog and from person to person, but on average it takes two to three years,” says Carmen Faith, group leader at THW Schwalmstadt.

She trains Hartwig and her dog Bones and directs the tracking group’s activities. Without this group, the Melsungen team would not be able to function.

Bright: Bones must pass a performance test every three years.
Bright: Bones must pass a performance test every three years. © Private

There are two exams at the end of the training

There are two exams at the end of the training. The first part takes place in the rubble field and is a prerequisite for completing his second part of the test in that area.

This test must be repeated every three years. Performance testing takes place in the intervening years.

There are no set tasks for this test. Therefore, these tests are very close to real-world usage. The search area is 30,000 square meters and the team has 20 minutes to search for the missing person.

Dogs and humans communicate by voice

During use, humans and dogs communicate vocally without using a leash. When a dog spots a person, it will show it by barking constantly.

This means it is obvious that someone has been spotted, even if there is no visual contact. To better control the search area, the dog is equipped with her GPS transmitter, and the dog handler can track that data on a display device.

Some local associations also have man trailers

THW dogs are trained to find live humans. Some local associations also have mantrailers that can track people’s footsteps over long distances.

Currently, there are no fully trained dogs of this kind in Schwalmstadt, but the team is in the final stages of training. (Damai Divert)

For more information, please visit thw-melsungen.de.



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