Former Search Dogs


From his handler

Lost to Cancer in 2015. 

Ranger was loved by all on the team for his wonderful, happy attitude. He loved to play fetch with his handler in water or on land. Ranger's handler joined the team in 2007 and shortly after along came Ranger. Ranger kept his status a high priority by re-certifying with the team every two years. Ranger had many experiences with our team such as rapelling over bridges, hanging out with numerous children at demos, and deploying on many search missions in his career.

Ranger came into our home as an eight week old puppy, His first act on meeting Louise was to bite her on the neck. When she reached up to protect her neck he bit her on the triceps. His next victims were the 2 family cats. He'd race across the room and chest bump them. All you would see was a cat cartwheeling across the room soon to be followed by the other one and then 2 gray blurs as they raced for the safety of the basement. I would hear from some of his search subjects that they too had fallen victim to his chest bumping. Later it came out that the people who were most likely to be thumped were those who were pretty sure he had no chance of finding them when they left to go hide. He became more socially adept after neutering.
His life would come to be totally dedicated to search and he was able to do the thing he loved most right to the end. His training was rigorous. The certification test for his discipline required that he clear 160 acres that contained living subjects, human remains and objects that had "hot" human scent on them. He had to locate them and return to me indicate that he had found something and then return and show me where they were. He had to do this in less than 2 hours. He was amazing. I once saw him pick up scent 1/4 of a mile away under ideal conditions find them and bring me back to them in the space of a couple of minutes.
He was beautiful. I can't tell you how many times people would stop when we were searching to tell me what a handsome boy he was. It didn't matter that he was covered in mud and burdock he had acquired while in the field. I can tell you it was the last thing he heard from a total stranger on his last trip to the vet when my heart was breaking was "he's beautiful". It meant a lot to me in that moment.
I used to think that his role as a search dog was the most important part of his life. To the humanity that needed him and the service he provided that may be largely true. But there is a certain amount of swagger that creeps into a handler who knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that his dog is going to find what he is looking for no matter what..... provided the handler does his part. I don't know when it happened but I know it did because the first trip back to his old training grounds, the swagger was gone. Replaced by emptiness and sadness. What I didn't realize until his death was how much a part of me he had become. What I miss most is him co-piloting with me when we would go anywhere in the car and we went everywhere. I miss his big square head in my lap....him warming my feet while he slept.
I carry on now hoping to build on his legacy. I miss him every day but hold his memory in my heart.


From a Teammate

Lost in 2015.  

I haven't known her as long as the rest of you have, or known her near as well and this was still hard to write. 
There are people who enter our lives for reasons unknown to us at the time. Sometimes they remain strangers. Other times they leave as acquaintances. On rare occasions they stay with us for a lifetime. Leaving imprints on our hearts that don't fade no matter how long. Creating Impressions in our memories we never forget. Teaching us things about ourselves we never realized. Bristol was one of these of rare occasions.
Every dog is a good dog. Although It isn't fair to Bristol to just say she was a "good dog". Bristol was much more than "just a dog". She was a daughter. A sister. A team mate. She was a teacher. A companion. A friend. In addition to all of that, she was a devoted and respected rescue worker.
Her seven short years were years of selfless giving. We don't know if she knew how important what she was doing actually was. Or if it was just a game with a toy or treat for a reward when she found a person. We do know that she excelled at it. We know how hard she worked to be the best at it. It was that hard work that helped her and Rayanne achieve their dream of doing disaster work even after she was told she would fail. Love, devotion, and hard work got them through, proving that love and patience can overcome any obstacle. Both were teacher and student. Equals in the partnership. Their lives devoted to helping those in need when their world falls apart around them In a most literal sense. This is a calling not answered casually but was answered nonetheless with great pride and responsibility by Rayanne and Bristol. To give selflessly of themselves for the greater good is the highest form of compassion. We all owe something to what these two have accomplished together.
The emptiness for her family, while unimaginable to us, is something we all feel to a lesser extent. As a whole we are diminished by her passing. We should take some comfort in that Bristol wouldn't want to see us all sitting with our heads hung low, tears in our eyes. She'd want to run and lick every one of our faces until we looked up smiling again.
It is some solace that Bristol passed doing what she loved, and with the people she loved. They were there with her at the end, just as she would have been for them. Just as she would have been for anyone. Rather, everyone.  Bristol can never be replaced. Nor should we try. Another dog may fill the role she occupied, but that what made Bristol who she was will always be unique in our hearts.
Every dog is a good dog. Bristol however, was an amazing dog.

Rowdy and Hershey:


Rowdy and Hershey along with their handler left Michigan to pursue further education and ultimately landed in Montana.


Both dogs remain certified through NSDA and are currently working with Flathead County Search and Rescue!







From Monty’s handler

retired 2016

I have been truly blessed to have had Monty as my partner. When I first started my SAR journey I knew I wanted a Golden Retriever, I had a picture in my head of what I wanted, your typical Golden, the yellow-gold color with the long fur and bushy tail. I knew his name would be Monty, after the dog in the Iris Johansen book “The Search”. So, off we went to test his litter. Monty was the only one who tested well out of his litter of 11. He was darker than I had wanted, but I played fetch with him for a few minutes and decided, yup this was my Monty. So, thankful I went against my preconceived notion of what I wanted. He turned into such a handsome red boy. He has been an amazing friend and partner. I never knew such a bond could exist-that has formed between me and my Monticello! He has taught me so much along the way. I am so grateful that I had a team that was patient and supportive, that helped nurture our partnership and taught us how to partner with each other. Some on the team have referred to him as Mr. Reliable, he was good at his job and he loved it and was happy doing it. Unfortunately, age has caught up with my boy and it is time for him to become a “bon-bon” dog, or couch potato and to keep his family company while receiving lots of pets, snuggles and love.


Retired 2016

Jackie Girl – In October of 2006, Jackie, an Australian Cattle Dog, came to MISAR along with her 15 year old handler Josiah. After meeting their future mentor, Dave, a founding member of MISAR, it was decided the team would give this young man a chance to work in SAR. Less than two years later Jackie and Josiah certified in the area of Air Scent/Wilderness and have kept up their certifications including an Area Search certification with NAPWDA (North American Police Working Dog Association). 
There were some harrowing moments in their early training such as the time Jackie caught scent of her subject on the opposite side of a river. She was so intent on getting to the subject she ended up in the fast moving current of the river. With the help of their mentor she was pulled to safety. Jackie was never really fond of working water after that incident and much preferred shoreline work over being on the water. 
Jackie was not the friendliest dog on the team in the early years. It’s a cattle dog thing, but with help from the members she was encouraged with lots of dog treats to realize that people can be really awesome. She learned to enjoy the attention just for the food. She also figured out how to make demos fun for those who were in the audience. Jackie’s indication was a big bang on her handler. She seemed to know when to really put on a show to get the Oh’s and Ah’s. 
Jackie was all work and no play at training and searches, in fact Jackie earned the title of “fun police”. Other dogs learned that it was not cool to fool around when it was time to train. There was one small exception to her “no playing at training” rule. Unfortunately, it was with a small skunk. They somehow met up in a field and spent several minutes of play bowing with some silly behavior. This was all observed by several members and not one felt the need to intervene. In the end the skunk had enough and Jackie received the worst end of that encounter. 
Being an agile cattle dog obstacles were never really obstacles. Jackie could walk logs and planks or jump over them with little effort. Josiah rarely had to speak to his dog, somehow they knew exactly what the other wanted. It was clear to all how well these two worked together. Jackie trusted Josiah completely. 
But as time proceeds the SAR dogs begin to age. Jackie will soon be twelve and has begun to slow down and has some arthritis in her rear legs. Jackie has been on numerous searches over her time with MISAR but this work is hard on a dog that can cover acres of area. Oh, she still has that pep in her step when Josiah asks her to step up and will still run along with him – for a short distance. It is time for Jackie to begin a new adventure as she joins Josiah and his soon to be wife in their new home. There are many on this team who will miss this dog and the gentle lady she turned out to be. Happy Retirement Jackie Girl. You have earned it


From Pepik’s handler

When you first meet someone and if you take the time to look into their eyes, you will see their Soul!! You will see if they are truly happy, sad, confident, hurt, strong, weak, loving...When you shake their hand, you will feel their Energy!!!

On July 2009, when I was bringing Pepik home, he was screaming bloody murder all the way to the airport!! My poor ears were vibrating from the pain and the fear of getting a parachute handed to me and pushed out of the plane was more than I could handle!!! I pulled the car off the road, unzipped his bag and grabbed his little cheeks, looked into his eyes, and told him, "You need to trust me!! I will take care of you!!"; that was the moment Pepik and I melted into One and became a Team!!! This was the most Amazing Moment of my Life...

When I looked into his eyes, I saw "Partner", "Love", "Live For The Moment", "Forget the clock", Let’s play Ball"!! There wasn't ever enough time or hours in a day to play ball!!! We started agility followed by Search and Rescue!! If he wasn't playing ball he was busy looking for volunteers that would get lost for us. I will never forget the Happy look on his face every time he found the subjects and he couldn't run back fast enough to tell me: Mooom, I found them, Huuurrry!! Follow me... Pepik taught me so much, for example, He taught me to stop and smell the Flowers!!! He would run off and actually run to flowers and I would watch him as he would come back and take me back to show me the flowers!!! He knew how to pick them, they always smelled wonderful!!! Pepik brought many wonderful mentors who also became Super great friends, from New York to Michigan!! This picture was another Super moment when he started training on Human Remains and he walked up the tree and pointed with his nose where it had been hidden!! Pepik was a super happy pup, who truly Lived for the Moment!!!

On August 12, 2014, as I was preparing to leave on a trip, I felt a heavy stare, as I turned around, I saw Pep sitting by my bedroom door. He didn’t move but he had a certain look in his eyes!! I walked towards him, I bent down and held his beautiful face… I told him that I loved him and I asked him to wait for me… I will be back!!! The look in his eyes told me, “Mom, this is as far as our journey will take us…” On August 13, 2014, I received a phone call and as soon as the phone rang, I knew it was about Pepik!!! He had been in a tragic accident…

Thank you everybody for all of your support in this very hard time.

To My Best Friend, My Search and Rescue Partner and My Soul Mate who knew what I was thinking all of the times!!! I will Miss You until the day we meet again... May 2009 - Aug. 2014


From Tyche’s handler

Tyche, a Doberman Labrador cross, came to me at a very trying time in my life.  After losing all our animals in a kennel fire, my wife was brave enough to go look for another dog to train in search and rescue.  We ended up at Doberman Rescue in Monroe.  At the time, I was a field support specialist for the search group we belonged to.  I had no intention of training a dog.  My wife was able to find a dog and as we were leaving, the owner of the rescue mentioned that a Doberman became pregnant by a neighbor’s Labrador and the Doberman owner put the dog on the streets.  She was rescued and was going to shortly have the puppies.  The director of the team at the time came to me and said, a Doberman Lab cross might be the perfect dog to do air scent.  I replied that I had no intention of training a dog.  The offer was made to return in 7-8 weeks and test the litter and while I never expected that to happen, my team members were persistent and without really knowing how it all happened, I found myself back at Second Chance Dobes meeting a litter of 11 puppies. Then the litter was whittled down to two puppies that showed great potential. The two dogs were placed in a empty room and I was to go in and choose.  I walked into the room and one of the pups was investigating everything in the room.  The other pup ran to me and jumped in my lap.  This was the dog I chose.  When I told everyone why I chose the puppy that I did, I was told that was the stupidest reason to choose a dog.

Tyche was a friend for just over 13 years and a certified air scent dog for 10.  She was on many searches and one of the last searches she was able to make the find and bring closure to a family.

She had to retire from old age when after a 5 hour search mission when we got home, she could not get out of her crate.  I had to climb in and lift her out.  That was when I made the decision that her work was done.

This dog captured my soul and did everything I ever asked from her.  On one of her last search missions I asked her to go into a swamp area and she got stuck and could not get out.  There is no doubt in my mind that at the time she knew she could not do what I had asked her to do, but she did it because I asked.  I almost started crying because she was in peril because she could not get out and she was sinking in the swamp.  I went into the swamp up to my waist, got hold of her and dragged her out.

I realized at that time that her search missions were coming to an end.  The team decided after that incident that Tyche would only search the easy access areas.   She was able to continue her search job for almost another year; she was 11 at that point.

When you train a dog for search and rescue you develop a bond and a trust that I cannot put into words.  It’s a feeling you have between the two of you.  Tyche and I had that trust and bond.

When she passed a piece of my heart went with her.  While I do not know if the rainbow bridge actually exists, I hope it does.  When that time comes I will rejoice at the reuniting of our souls once again.

Tyche run free now, unhampered by your body that failed you.  When we meet again that piece of my heart will be restored.


From Andor’s handler

Andor was born in VA to a dam that did French Ring and a sire that had done Schutzhund. We tested the litter and he tested so much higher than the puppy I initially liked, I had to take him. He got in the car and never looked back. He had an immediate attachment to me.

Andor had big paws to fill, as Copper had DCM and he had to learn quickly, often working the same problems Copper did. He went on his first search at 18 months handling the pressure like a pro. Over the years he went on many searches. His favorite type was doing historical work, probably because it challenged him.

He really didn't care about other people or dogs, but as he aged, Andor began to realize that other people and dogs were ok, so his friends expanded exponentially.

He had other favorite things to do, one of which was agility. He thought it was right up there with search, ball chasing & swimming. He was a well traveled do often going on vacation with us to the UP or out west where he'd hike with us.

In his final months he did several demos for children as well as therapy dog work.

Andor left far too early, leaving another set of big paws to fill.

"Andor " Von Hess 4/6/2007-7/11/2014


  From Talon's handler:

I  was truly blessed with a great spirit like Talon to accompany me for so many years.  Talon did have incredible abilities to find missing people, but what really enabled most of his missing persons finds was his spirit to keep working well past when others, and even I had given up.  I can remember many of his finds where I was ready to give up and call it a night, but he was still willing to go, so we kept going long enough to make the find.  This spirit kept Talon working well past when most dogs retired. (Almost 12).

Talon throughout his career has assisted law enforcement at local, state, and federal levels.  He has been certified for wilderness and human remains detection with a number of organizations both private and law enforcement based. He has been on well over 100 searches with over 30 finds to his credit.

Talon was honored with Red Cross Everyday Hero Award in their Animal Rescue category (credited for saving lives through volunteer efforts).  He was named search dog of the year several times, received a lifetime achievement award, and received many letters of commendation from families, law enforcement agencies, congressmen, and others.   His latest award was the AKC Ace Award honorable mention in the Search and Rescue category.

Beyond all the search work Talon was always there as a close companion, whether retrieving (pheasants, ducks, frisbees, balls, kongs, squeaky toys,…), skijoring, morning runs and walks, swimming, or just hanging out. 

His legacy follows him with the many puppies he has raised, and the many dogs he has helped teach what he enjoyed the most in his life, pleasing his human companions and friends.  Lucky for me Rio has taken the baton from Talon, as we both thank him very much for guiding us forward.

Rocky Mountain Talon;
  Born October 19, 1995, last re-find April 9, 2010



Argus, trained as a disaster response dog played an important role in many missing persons searches. Responsible for searching buildings, junkyards and small wilderness sectors, his work freed the far ranging wilderness search dogs to work the large sectors.


Because his kidneys were compromised, he was lost following the melamine incident of 2007. He is missed.








Lilly, an in-training search dog had to retire due to health issues. Her nose had the desire to do the job; her body couldn’t muster the necessary stamina.


She remains with her family and serves as chief babysitter for their young son.








Copper was a human remains detection specialist dog skilled in both the search for missing person and in the art of historical search work.


A dog lost too soon, Copper succumbed to the cardio-myopathy when he was seven years old. His love of the job had him working until the day he died.


He is greatly missed.






Teris started his disaster training with Michigan Task Force One and Ohio Task Force One as a puppy in the summer of 2007. He was preparing to offer live person specialty support to Michigan Search and Rescue.


However, at 17-months, Teris died as a result of complications from surgery. 


His joy and carpe diem attitude is greatly missed by both his handler and the team. Teris never met a challenge – or a day the he didn’t embrace with vigor.





Certified in wilderness airscent and a veteran of many searches, Charlie’s handler decided to retire him when he started to slow down.


Charlie loved his job, but has moved on to a new position patrolling his yard and searching for missing deer antlers.







After over ten months of fighting osteosarcoma, Cota let us know it was time to set him free to run with all his old friends.

Cota came to us after spending the first year of his life mostly in a crate. I always said he was learning delayed because it took him longer to learn new tasks, but once he learned them he never forgot them. I'll never forget how, during his early training, if the victim was quite a ways from where I was, he'd come running back, give me his indication then stand there looking at me as if to say 'why did I do that?' We worked really hard on helping him remember where he'd left the ''victim'. But he excelled at boat work - one task we didn't have to teach him. He seemed to instinctively understand what was needed when he was working on a boat.

Cota loved people. On the scene of a missing person he would make the rounds and stand stoically while relatives and friends of the missing person would pet and hug him. He always seemed to just know who needed a fur-fix the most. At demos he would disappear behind a wall of children. He became a Delta Society Pet Partner and he had a great time having children read to him, again seeming to know which struggling child needed him to flip their book and lighten the mood.

Cota was a tireless worker and a great friend. He taught me much, but mostly he was my partner - a dog I trusted in every aspect of his life. A dog I loved.

Run strong and free Cota. We'll meet again some day.

Your Grateful Partner