I started bodying for the association in early 2016 following a social media campaign for volunteers. I spend a lot of my spare time on the hills and whilst I have never had the need to require the services of the rescue teams, it is a great resource and I was keen to help in a small way.
I remember my first training session very well, a dark Tuesday night in Whinlatter forest in early March. I was made very welcome by both the handlers, assessors, other bodies and importantly the search dogs! I was first found by search dogs Bracken and Meg with their handler Elly. It wasn’t until the lighter nights that I got to see what people looked like, as before then I had only seen other head torches and got to know their voices! I then began to attend the weekend training session which are held every month and got to meet other bodies, handlers and dogs for other parts of the Lakes.
We are out in all weathers and often attacked my midges, but it is all worth it when you see the excitement of a dog when they find you and all they want is to play with a toy or some treats.
Every year the association undertake a week’s avalanche training the Cairngorms. I look forward to this although I get some funny looks when I explain to friends that I am going away to be buried in a ‘snow grave’ for a week. We aren’t buried for the whole week but can be underground for up to 3 hours!
It is a real privilege to work with the dedicated handlers and their dogs and it is great to see trainee dogs go through the stages and become fully fledged search dogs who will be on call 24 hours a day to look for those in need.
Back in 2016 I answered an advert on Facebook looking for “bodies”. I love dogs and the outdoors so it’s a perfect use of my free time. I’ve been on some great adventures and made some lifelong friends, most importantly I’m doing my bit to keep people safe in the hills. It’s exciting hearing the dogs bells and seeing a flash of orange jacket zipping across the hill knowing you’re about to be found
I started bodying in 2014 after seeing a leaflet in a local supermarket. Always been fond of dogs despite never owning one. This way I get the fun and enjoyment of their company without the commitment and responsibility!
I’ve fortunately never had to call on the services of the rescue team but it’s very reassuring to know there is this team of highly skilled and dedicated people and dogs out there. It’s been very rewarding to witness the progression of a number of dogs and their handlers through their training and ultimately pass their final assessments to become fully graded search dogs. Privileged to feel that I have contributed in a small way.
“A few years back, myself and a group of colleagues from my workplace, visited a search dogs training session one evening up on Red Screes. We also presented a cheque to the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association, as this was a charity the department supported. Myself and one of my colleagues were then given a brief taste of bodying and I realised just how important a dogs bodies role is, in helping to train the dogs to become operational search dogs.
For many years, myself and my family have always enjoyed walking the Cumbrian Fells and thankfully I have never needed to call on the Mountain Rescue teams, but my Aunty did need their help on one occasion. So, when I saw a post on Facebook advertising the Open Day and asking if anyone would be willing to become a volunteer for the LDMRSDA, I thought I could volunteer my time after work in an evening or at a weekend, although I don’t live locally (approx. 1hr 30 to 2 hrs drive away).
I got in touch with the Association and in September 2017, arranged to meet search dog handler Joy Grindrod with her gorgeous dog Einich, at Red Screes one Thursday evening and this was the start of my bodying with the LDMRSDA.
I have a dog of my own and a love of dogs in general, plus I love the Lake District, so I thought this would be a perfect charity to support. I can truly say it has been an amazing experience to work with these highly skilled Mountain Rescue handlers and their fantastic dogs and to watch a young trainee dog progress from a giddy puppy on its journey towards becoming a fully graded search dog, which can take up to 3 or 4 years of intense training.
There is so much hard work and training done by the Mountain Rescue teams, handlers, assessors and the bodies, in all weathers, so for me, I have a huge amount of respect for them all and although I live some distance away, I am so pleased to be able to volunteer my time as often as I can, knowing I am contributing to the success of the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association.
This charity is so worthy of support and everyone involved in the Association are all volunteers and give so much of their time to help train these amazing search dogs in rescuing anyone in need of help. Not only do they rescue people, but animals too. It’s so good to know that these dedicated teams with their dogs, are always on hand 24 hours, 365 days a year, whatever the weather, to save lives.
It really is one of the best things I have got involved with and although my contribution is relatively small, I know how much they rely on the dogs bodies support. I look forward to continuing being a dogs body for many years to come and wish the Association continued success.”
I have been a “dogsbody” for about two years now and love it. It is the first time in my life that I
have been encouraged to lie on a Lake District hillside for a couple of hours doing nothing and yet
I can still feel that I am doing something useful.
There is something very special about being out on a cold winter’s evening in the snow, hiding
and waiting for the tell tale tinkling sound of the bells on a dog’s coat and then the bark of a
training “find” before it runs off back to its handler to bring the handler back to you for the dog’s
reward of a play.
I came into bodying via a neighbour who is a longstanding MRT volunteer and who knew about
my interest in dogs and my love of the mountains. Basically the role of a “dogsbody” is to go to a
beautiful location, take instruction from the handlers/assessors, lie down quietly until found and
then play with some exceptionally talented and well trained dogs. It allows us to contribute in a
small way to the work of the LDMRSDA and, unlike the handers and their dogs, we get to go
home each night and don’t get called out on rescues.
Each dog is unique and each has its favourite reward. Getting to know them all and their ways
keeps us all interested. It is a privilege to be involved in the development of the dogs into fully
fledged Graded Search Dogs. I have learned so much about dogs and dog handling (even though
I have had my own dogs most of my life).
My own dog is a whippet, unlike the collies and labradors that make up most of the graded
search dogs. There is a saying that collies and labradors are born half-trained and whippets die
half-trained so that perhaps explains why there are no whippet search dogs!
Body Paul has been with the association for many years, Paul is well known for falling asleep during bodying and only waking up when the handler arrives! Usually, if its wet, presenting only a hand with a toy attached to the end of it for the dog! Paul if usually found at Stage 2, 3 & 4, being a very experienced body, he is often used on assessments.
I first learnt about the wonderful work of our Search and Rescue Dogs and their handlers from a man in a pub!! It was actually the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, over 10 years ago, as we were chatting to local folk. We then started enjoying the Charity Folk Festivals there, which were in aid of the Search Dogs, and also the Air Ambulance. After attending the Search Dogs’ Open Day last year, and chatting to the lovely friendly folk there, I realised that I could volunteer to be a dogsbody, so I started in July 2018. I can’t body as often as I would like to, as I live in Cheshire, but love it when I am able!
The dogs and their handlers are truly amazing, and it’s a pleasure to be lying on the fell, hearing that tinkle of a bell on a collar gradually getting nearer, then the barking and excitement all round when I’m found!!
I have also recently been lucky to body for Benny and Brock, the trailing dog – who followed my scent around paths in Great Langdale a couple of hours after I’d walked them, despite there being many other walkers/choices of routes/pouring rain + a howling gale!! While the air scenting dogs indicate their find by barking and returning to their handler to lead him/her to the body, Brock indicates by lying down when he finds his body.
After many years of enjoying fell-walking, and appreciating the dedication of our wonderful Mountain Rescue volunteers, it’s lovely to be able to help in a very small way. I also get to spend time in our beautiful fells, meet wonderful dogs, and meet lovely folk to boot!!
It’s huge privilege, and thank you to all.
“We dig a trench in the snow about two metres deep, make a shelf at the bottom for you to lie on and then bury you. We call them graves”. My immediate reaction was to wonder what on earth I’d got myself into, but I had come as far as the training session for dogsbodies, so I thought I should go with the flow.
A few weeks earlier, I had got chatting to Christyne following a Coniston MRT fundraising event. She suggested that I might enjoy bodying and that I come along to the next monthly training course, which was held in Borrowdale on a freezing weekend in December 2017.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the initial briefing it still sounded interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed that first weekend. Christyne (and Bute) were tolerant of my bumbling initial attempts at bodying and fellow bodies Woody and Paul patiently showed me the ropes while keeping me in stitches.
Having done a fair bit of messing about on the hills over the previous half century, I was excited that the next course was a full week in the Cairngorms, but not a little daunted at the prospect of those “graves” which Training Officer Andy had so graphically described. I needn’t have worried. The whole week was a revelation with the Norwegian instructors inventing avalanche scenarios to gradually increase the challenge on dogs and handlers in the amazingly good snow conditions that winter.
Bodies and Handlers mucked in together digging holes, burying bodies and immersing themselves in the scenarios, often testing our acting skills! I even got to share a room with the brilliant Searchdog Fern (and Dave, her handler). The days were exhausting but fulfilling and the craic was pretty good too.
Since then I’ve tried to get to as many training sessions as possible despite living about a 90 minute drive away. I often get out on the hill again after training, especially in winter, which makes the most of the trip. I’ve learnt so much in the last 18 months or so and gained an even greater respect for the skill, dedication and selflessness of the Mountain Rescue Teams, especially the dog handlers and of course their amazing dogs.
There is more to being a dogsbody than meets the eye though. Especially as the dogs pass through the stages of training or if they develop specific traits which need to be ironed out. That means we have to follow our instructions to the letter, be precise in our actions and give feedback – all while clowning around for the dogs. I keep insisting to friends and family that it’s a serious business because of the time invested in training, although they remain unconvinced, mercilessly taking the mickey.
But most of all it’s fun. It’s all a big game for the dogs, so they have to love finding us dogsbodies and that means we always have to be up for a game of fetch or tuggy. Whether that’s on a balmy summer’s evening being eaten by midges, in the pouring rain or buried under several feet of snow, it makes no difference to the dogs. They think we’re the most fun they can have while wearing a red jacket and that’s a real privilege, as is playing a small part in their journey from yellow to the coveted green tag
I have always had a passion for working with animals and love mountaineering, so when the opportunity came along to volunteer as a dogsbody I happily took on the challenge.
It is fantastic to see the dog teams progress from pre-stage one all the way through to getting their green tag and has inspired me to try and train a Search Dog myself one day. I am currently a probationary team member with the Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team.
It might sound strange to most folk to say I really enjoy hiding out on a wet boggy hillside kitted out in full waterproof gear along with my roll mat, bivvy bag, radio and dog toys waiting to be found! But it’s so rewarding when the dog comes in, finds you, indicates and you see how happy they are to get the toy.
I became a body for the association in 2012 after hearing that it was possible to volunteer to help train these amazing dogs. I love dogs and I love the Lakes so it is a perfect way for me to spend my spare time. I enjoy working with the dogs at all stages of their training, but it is especially satisfying to work with the Stage 1 dogs and then watch their journey through to becoming a fully graded search dog. It is a privilege to be part of the association.
I have been volunteering as a body for the Association since 2012 having heard what they do from a colleague at work. I’ve seen quite a few dogs come through and grade during that time and it is incredibly rewarding to be part of that journey, especially when those dog and handler teams contribute to a successful outcome on a Mountain Rescue callout.
I’m at my happiest when in the outdoors, so bodying for the Search Dogs is the perfect antidote to my busy life as a scientist at Lancaster University. If not bodying I’m most likely to be spending my weekends walking in the Lake District fells.
Through helping train the dogs I have also met some amazing people who have become great friends and always look forward to meeting up on training days.
I started bodying for the association in early 2018 after my friend and then trainee handler Mike Gullen (now a Graded team with Marty) encouraged me to get involved. I absolutely love spending time in the hills and am a keen trail and fell runner and hill walker. I also love the dogs so being part of this special organisation and helping train these clever and wonderful dogs is an absolute privilege.
Its amazing to watch the dedicated handlers and their dogs working on the fells and it is hugely rewarding when you are enthusiastically greeted by a wet nose and quite often a huge kiss (trainee Search Dog Jess)!
In the short time that I have been a dogsbody I have met some truly lovely people who will be lifelong friends. I look forward to the training evenings and weekends as I always know I’m going to have fun no matter what the Cumbrian weather throws at us!
Woody, we think, started bodying for the association in the late 16th Century… Woody is the life and sole of the association, bodying most, if not all of our weekend meets. Woody is famous for laying in a snow grave for around 6 hours whilst the handlers enjoyed ice lollies in the valley.. Woody is a very experienced body, again, being used on many assessments for new dogs.
I have been venturing in the hills since a very young age and have a huge passion for the outdoors.
I’ve always had an interest in mountain rescue and one day would love to join a team, however in the mean time, helping train the search dogs is a great way to fill my spare time and help train the dogs with essential skills for finding real casualties.
It’s a great feeling hearing the bell and seeing the orange jacket coming across the hill towards you knowing your about to be found.
Who wouldn’t want to lie on a boggy hill side for fun?
After finishing my career, I found I had the time to rediscover my passion for the outdoor life. Spending more & more time in the mountains I came to realise the importance of the Mountain Rescue Teams and the dedication of it’s volunteers. I felt I wanted to give something back, but wasn’t sure what I could do. It was at the Festival of Light in May 2019 I took the opportunity to chat to Christyne, one of the Mountain Rescue search dog handlers, about becoming a dog’s body and she pointed me in the right direction. I turned up at a training night to be given lots of guidance on what I was to do … more technical than I realised, but lots of fun, and that’s it, I’ve been going along, whenever I can, ever since. It sounds quite heroic to say I lie out in the dark and rain on a fell side but it’s not that bad snuggled up in a bivvi bag. The big reward comes when you are found and seeing the joy and excitement of the dog concerned. There are also some magical moments, sitting out on a warm evening on Catbells Terrace seeing the moon reflected on Derwent Water and watching the lights of Keswick come on one by one. It was amusing/reassuring when lying face down on Red Screes a hiker, unaware of the training, rushes to check I’m ok & in Whinlatter Forest sitting behind a tree on my own in the dark a mountain biker catches me in their bike lights, stops and returns to check on me…. there are good people out there !! Most of all, when I hear the Mountain Rescue reports of lost hikers being found, even though what I do is tiny compared to lots of others involved, I can think to myself “I’ve been part of that.” I feel honoured to be part of such a wonderful organisation.