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Meet Swallow, China’s champion search and rescue dog

Yanzhao Wanbao 28March p.8

Just see Swallow in action – China’s champion search and rescue dog in the making. 

The semi-finals of the All-China Search and Rescue Dog Championships, organized by the fire department of the Ministry of Public Security, have just concluded. As yesterday’s front page of the Yanzhao Evening News (燕赵晚报) from Hebei province told us, there was one outstanding star at the event: a one-year-old Springer from Hebei province called Swallow (燕子). Swallow was top dog in the small-scale category, and will now go through to the finals of the event. According to the handlers, Swallow has a very smart sense of smell, and is very obedient.

Swallow is currently undergoing training as a search and rescue dog. Every morning at 8 am, Swallow and her companions are first taken through their paces in endurance exercises lasting around 15 minutes. At the command of “sit!” (坐下), all the dogs must line up in a line in front of their handlers, and remain in this position for another 15 minutes in a sort of “patience drill”. This completed, its time for breakfast, which is made to order for every individual dog. And then its time to strap on the search and rescue gear and head out to the training ground. The daily training routine is stiff, encompassing such exercises as learning to obey orders, searching through boxes and ruins, and jumping over barriers.

Then of course there’s also the more fun game of fetch. According to her handler, Swallow is not the fastest dog but she always manages to rush forward and grab the ball first and retrieve it. The reason for this is because she is the smartest. While all the other dogs would wait until the handler throws the ball before setting off, Swallow would already be running when the handler lifts his arm to throw the ball.

Although Swallow is still in training, she has already heroically participated in two operations. One was when a building collapsed and she searched the ruins for signs of life, while in the other case she searched for survivors after an explosion caused by fireworks. And the best thing about Swallow is that she’s still just one year old – she has a bright future ahead.

Links and sources
Yanzhao Evening News (燕赵晚报): “燕子” 搜救犬中的花木兰