Searchdog Sheba.
Sheba was my fist dog, a Black Labrador bitch.
I was still single and living at home with my parents when Sheba came into our lives back in 1978. I had been after a dog for several years but at the time my mother was very reluctant about having a dog in the house, fortunately Sheba won over her and all our hearts.
At just eight weeks old this little bundle of joy transformed my life and left me with some amazing and embarrassing memories.
When she was about four to five months old we started attending dog obedience classes in Hull, Sheba and I had some great times, learn't a lot and met some good friends. We progressed through the puppy classes and pre beginner classes, into the beginner class and finally into the advanced group. During this time we competed in many Obedience competitons around the North of England and managed to amass several nice trophies and certificates in the process but we always seemed to be piped at the post by either Border Collies or German Shepherd Dogs. Those breeds tended to be very good at heel work and at that time the Judges liked to see the dogs head nestled into your groin as you did your heel work, Sheba, although very good at heelwork would never walk with her head that close to me! We continued with the obedience training  for another eighteen months until she reached the ‘class a’ group.
I had been a member of the Scarborough and District Search and Rescue Team since the mid 1970’s and by the late 70’s the Team Leader was looking at retiring his Search dog (Jill) and asked if I would consider training Sheba up to Searchdog standard, the idea being that I could take over once his dog had retired. I didn’t need much persuading. We started our training on the North Yorkshire Moors, Beverley Westwood and the Humber Estuary,  initially playing hide and seek and gradually increasing the distance between me and the 'dogsbody'. In 1979 Sheba and I attended our first assessment and training weekend in Rossendale in Lancashire. This was quite a scary weekend and I was extremely grateful for all the obedience training we had done. I remember quite vividly one of the first tests we had to complete was the ‘stock test’, where the dog had to walk around and through a field of sheep without showing any interest in them whatsoever. Fortunately she, we passed that aspect of the training although we were always tested at most of our assessment weekends. We continued with our search training and attended further assessment courses on the North Yorkshire moors and Lake District throughout the year prior to the long weekend assessment course at Tranearth nr Coniston in the Lake District in December. These were fantastic weekends and I met many great handlers and dogs from other teams mainly from the Lake District all trying to qualify as search and rescue dog handlers. 
The following year 1979 we continued with the training at every opportunity, attending further training and assessment courses in the Lake District and Peak District throughout the year. We always learn't something new on the courses, the hardest part of the learning process was returning home and putting it into practise! We would train on Beverley Westwood, The Humber Bank, North Yorkshire Moors and even Brayton Barff, close to where I now live. Fortunately on our penultimate assessment course of 1979 we were invited onto the annual training and assessment weekend at Tranearth in mid December.  These weekend courses were always quite tough, Tranearth were we stayed for the weekend was a climbing hut near the tiny hamlet of Torver, the hut was about a one kilometre walk from the car, so we had to carry all our kit with us for the weekend in our rucksack.
After breakfast on the Saturday morning we were all given areas to search on the slopes of ‘The Old Man of Coniston’  a 2,600ft mountain, I cleared my search area finding the two ‘dogsbodies’ that had been planted there earlier in the day. My second search was a disaster. We were heading up towards ‘Goats water’ a small tarn on ‘the Old Man’ on the edge of my search area, Sheba was some 50 yards ahead of me and working well, when a huge gust of wind caught me and blew me off balance.  I ended up some twenty feet lower from where I had been standing a few seconds earlier, I had landed on my back cushioned by the rucksack I was carrying, unfortunately my right arm was trapped under my sack and I ended up with a dislocated elbow and broken arm, compounded by Sheba, who seeing my predicament ran back to me and jumped onto my stomach, she promptly guarded me until the assessors arrived and I was eventually evacuated to Barrow in Furness hospital for the weekend! One of the assessors looked after Sheba whilst I was hospitalised.
After a very uncomfortable and sore Christmas, I received a letter from the Association inviting me onto the four day assessment course in late January 1980. To cut a long story short after four long and tiring days and many assessments in some wet and atrocious conditions, especially around the Honister slate mines, both Sheba and I were awarded with the silver badges and certificates as Novice Search and Rescue dog and handler. These were great times with lots and lots of memories and considerable admiration and respect for the assessors and the dogsbodies.
To see more pictures of Searchdog Sheba left click on the picture below. 
Please note, these images have been transposed into dpi's from slide images, so I apologize for the quality. Digital imagery was not available to me in the 1970's.
Left click on the images below to expand the galleries.
Searchdog Sheba
Sheba Early Days