How man’s best friends became lifesavers

bob sharp author of book mountain rescue dogs
bob sharp author of book mountain rescue dogs

A FASCINATING new boOK on the history and development of the search and rescue dogs service has just been published.

Bob Sharp (67) has spent almost 35 years involved in mountain rescue and is the author of a number of books on the subject.

The former team leader of the Lomond Mountain Rescue team wrote Search & Rescue Dogs in collaboration with fellow mountaineering expert Bill Jennison because he said no one else had written a book on the subject.

The retired academic, from Blanefield, said: “I just want to say that I am not a trained search and rescue dog handler - that is were Bill came in.

“His expert knowledge on the subject was invaluable. The book took three years from the first discussions to publication and I spoke to hundreds of people who have all been involved in checking the facts and verifying the stories.”

The book takes the reader on a journey from the very early days of using dogs in Glencoe to search for missing walkers with accounts from legendary climber Hamish McInnes (82) who is recognised as the first person to use them for this purpose in Britain.

Bob added: “Hamish did his nation service in the late 1950s in the Alps and they were using German shepherds out there.

“When he came back to Scotland he got a couple of his own German shepherds and set up the very first Search and Rescue Dog Association in 1965.”

The book charts the development from these very early ad-hoc days to the UK wide service that operates today.

Most dogs used today (95 per cent) are border collies. Bob said: “They already have a natural instinct to herd and, with the right training, this can be turned into an ability to search.”

The new book looks at all aspects related to training, assessing and working search and rescue dogs and takes a wider look at dogs in society.

For those who like the great outdoors there is also numerous accounts of search incidents from across the UK as well as anecdotes and stories from dog handlers, casualties and others.

Bob added: “I would be more than happy to give a talk to any organisations in Milngavie that would like to here about this important service. They can contact me on 07710524484.”

The book costs £25 and available from all good book shops.