Last week, my neighbor Kuhn Ohm asked me to take photos for a group here in Thailand that trains their dogs to help in rescue efforts. The group trains every week in the upper levels of a parking structure of an underutilized mall about twenty minutes from here.
This was a special occasion, because an assessor (I was corrected when I said judge) from Europe had traveled to test the dogs. The group dynamic was interesting, only two of the five volunteers with dogs were actually Thai, while two were from New Zealand and one from America. Interestingly, the American lived in Cincinnati for a long time. My neighbor lived in Cincinnati three years as well, so of the nine people, three had lived in the Queen City. An American veterinarian also volunteers with the group, although he doesn't have a dog to train.
The people were great, and really went out of their way to make me feel at home. I learned a good deal about the rescue dog certification process. Apparently there are three levels; one of the volunteers was testing for the middle level (B), while the others were testing for first level. Overall the testing went pretty well, although my neighbor's dog did meet the standard this time. This is understandable, because she has only been training her dog for six months, while the others have been involved for as many as two years.
During the rescue test, I had the chance to participate by walking around. The dogs are trained to ignore humans who are standing or walking around. This gave me the chance to take some photos during the test, otherwise I would have had to stand too far back. The lighting conditions in the garage weren't ideal, so I had to shoot at a higher ISO in order to be able to hand hold the camera.
Overall I had a really great time. Thailand is lucky to have these folks volunteer their time to train their dogs so that some day they might save lives.