Civilian Search and Rescue Dogs from Across the Country Train in Blackfoot

IDAHO FALLS - Dogs and trainers from across the west have trained all weekend, learning new skills that will help someone in trouble.

They are just normal dogs you'd find in your neighborhood, but will be the first canine responders at the scene of an emergency.

"It's a lot of work, it's a lot of commitment, we spend a lot of our weekends training," said dog handler, Susan Janz.

Janz and her lab mix are training at the Bingham County Transfer Station, Sunday. Organizers say this North American Police Work Dog Association workshop is the largest in Idaho history.

"There is nothing more fun than watching a good dog follow a scent pool and then going in and finding whatever you have them looking for. It's just a blast," said Idaho Search and Rescue Dog President Ann Christensen.

Dogs can cover more ground then a team of searchers and have a higher sense of smell than we do.

"When we walk into a pizza place, we smell pizza. When a dog walks into a pizza place, he smells tomato sauce. He smells pepperoni. He smells Canadian bacon. He smells green peppers. He smells onions. He smells each individual thing instead of the way we do," said Christensen.

"It's amazing. It's so fun because they are always coming and they are excited and they lick you and give you love, and they are always so happy and excited to find you," said Jennifer Hayman, 11, who hid in rubble for the dogs to find her.

There are a lot of sacrifices to have a civilian search and rescue dog, but Janz said it's worth everything.

"But it's worth it just to be able to help people find their lost loved ones."

Three other groups of dogs are around Blackfoot this weekend working on tracking, wilderness search and other training techniques.

Master trainers from across the country came to Blackfoot to help give guidance to the handlers and the dogs, making sure they are trained by the best.

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