Although they’re often portrayed on TV and in movies, it can be hard to fully appreciate just how brave, courageous, and heroic a search and rescue (or SAR) dog can be.
In the summer of 2016, an old man who was stranded in the mud and begging for help was rescued by an unexpected hero who appeared out of nowhere. In this particular instance, the dog in question was a German Shepard named Luca.
It was planned that two old guys would go to a major Texas junk yard in search of car parts. As the men sat in the hot Texas sun, one of them noticed that his dementia-stricken companion was nowhere to be found. Concerned about the disappearance of his companion, the man phoned the police for assistance.
Over time, a large number of cops and helicopters joined forces to hunt for the missing man. They were worried that his dementia had caused him to become disoriented and lose track of where he was when he went off.
He was at risk of heat stroke because of the high temperatures in Texas and the lapse of time. After a long and fruitless search, the police realized they needed the assistance of their long-time canine companion. Although Luca, the German Shepherd, had already been retired by this time, his reputation as an excellent search and rescue dog was unequaled.
As Luca had a proven track record, his manager, Cole, was certain that he could face the challenge. When a crisis occurs requiring the swift response of trained search and rescue dogs, such as locating a lost kid or identifying human remains, the dogs are well-mannered and well-trained canines that can be counted on to come to the rescue. SAR dogs and their expert handlers are ready to help in any emergency, whether in the wilderness or in the city, thanks to their extensive training and experience.
For several years prior to his retirement, Luca was an amazing search and rescue dog. He excelled at searching for large areas, bodies of water, avalanches, and forests/deserts. He went on mountain climbs, rode ski lifts and snowmobiles in cold storms, and flew helicopters to deserts to perform lifesaving operations. All of the traveling and long days took their toll on the large dog, which is why Cole retired Luca at the age of nine.
After training Luca to follow human scent, Officer Brock went to his home nearby and picked up Luca, knowing that every minute that passed diminished the chances of a complete recovery. They then searched the area until they discovered the missing man,” Fort Worth Police Department stated on FB about the search that included Luca.
As they walked through the salvage yard, Luca quickly reverted to his training. When the Search and Rescue crew came upon an opening in the brush that led to an extremely steep drop off to the Trinity River, Luca gave a distinct signal. The Trinity River is a 710-mile-long river that is wholly contained inside the United States of America’s state of Texas. The river originates in far northern Texas, just south of the Red River. According to Trinityara, the headwaters are divided by the Red River’s high bluffs on the south side.
Although Cole was unable to see anything, Luca made it quite apparent that this was the direction the squad needed to go. Due to the rugged terrain, the chopper on scene swiftly responded and noticed the missing man knee-deep in the river. He was on the opposite side of the bank from the point at which Luca raised the alarm. The swiftly moving water threatened to push the man down, and he had little leverage because he was trapped in the muck.
The police promptly stripped down and jumped into the water to rescue the man. Luca was instrumental in locating this man less than eight hours after he vanished, thereby sparing him from drowning or hypothermia.
There’s no such thing as a hero once you’ve been one. An example of an older dog’s dedication to search and rescue may be seen in Luca, who exemplifies the resiliency and outstanding intelligence that older canines possess.
In 2017, Luca was named Hero Dog of the Year for his work in search and rescue.
According to Luca’s bio on the Hero Dog Awards page, “his devotion to SAR shows the tenacity of older canines and how training does not go away simply because they retire.”