Phenomenal Floss Finds Missing Woman - SuperDog Finalist
What a clever girl! Floss finds missing woman. This brilliant rescue dog was a finalist in the 2021 Naturo SuperDog Awards. Her mum, Clair O'Connor, tells her story.
Falling in love with big-hearted Floss
Floss first came into our lives at the age of 8 weeks from a cattle farm in County Derry, Northern Ireland. The reason we chose her, from the litter, was that she had a white marking on top of her head which resembled the shape of a heart and so we instantly fell in love with her.
As the months went by in her new home, we quickly realised that she had a very high play drive and would retrieve a tennis ball all day long. Her high play drive and ultra-friendly nature are exactly what we would look for when choosing a dog to train as a Search Dog for the Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland North (SARDA IN). Floss had both of these characteristics in spades.
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SARDA IN was founded in the 1970’s by Dr Neil Powell with the vision of providing the highest standard of qualified, life-saving Search Dogs and Handlers in the North of Ireland. His first Search Dog was a ‘rescue’ himself, a German Shepherd named, Kim.
Neil’s idea was that by training Man’s Best Friend to locate missing, vulnerable people he could speed up what had always been a slow, laborious and often dangerous process. Kim’s first call-out in 1982 was an extensive search for a missing GP on NI’s highest peak, Slieve Donard. He successfully located the GP and as a consequence saved his life.
Currently, SARDA IN has 4 qualified Search Dogs for Mountain Rescue, Collapsed Structure, Open Country and Drowned Victim Recovery:
BODHI – Collapsed Structure
NELLY – Drowned Victim Recovery
TESS – Mountain Rescue, & Open Country
FLOSS – Collapsed Structure, Mountain Rescue, & Open Country
It took over 1000 hours of training and approximately 9 days of 3 gruelling assessments for Floss to qualify in not 1 but 3 different disciplines making her the highest qualified Search Dog in the UK and Ireland:
National Mountain Search Dog Qualification (The highest standard awarded to voluntary Search Teams).
Floss’s first operational qualification came in 2018 resulting in her becoming a qualified Collapsed Structure Search Dog. She then took up her voluntary role as part of the Northern Ireland Fire And Rescue Service (NIFRS), Urban Search And Rescue Team (USAR) which she loves. Along with SARDA IN’s other Collapsed Structure Search Dog, Bodhi, (handled by Michael Mc Camley) they complete joint training with the NIFRS 3 or 4 times every year.
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Watch Floss in action!
A short video of Floss in training - demonstrating the type of terrain and the speed at which Floss can locate a missing person.
Watch Floss GO!!!
BIRD volunteer rescue
Floss is also a member of the British International Rescue and Search Dogs (BIRD) which consists of a team of highly experienced volunteers who form a totally self-supporting team deployed to assist in disasters in the UK, Ireland and worldwide.
Since qualifying, Floss has been on over 50 operational live searches across Ireland.
Floss finds fallen mountain biker
A short story of a typical day in October 2019. One Saturday morning, the SARDA IN team were gathering at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre (TNOC) for group training. Whilst waiting for the full team to arrive, a very distressed mountain biker ran over to us from the forest area. He was frantic, asking for help with his friend who had, just minutes earlier, crashed his mountain bike and collapsed somewhere in the forest.
Without hesitation, we sprang into action. We immediately alerted the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and then transported the biker in one of our emergency vehicles into the forest to begin the search to locate his friend. All our members in SARDA IN are trained as Advanced First Aiders and we always carry emergency first aid kits onboard all our team vehicles.
When we arrived at the forested area the biker, through the emotional shock of the event, couldn’t remember exactly where his friend was located. Floss was released and given her command to ‘Find Him’. She speedily covered a massive area within the forest, and within 15 minutes, successfully located the friend. He was badly injured, and in an unconscious state but thankfully still alive. We rendered immediate First Aid and then transferred him via a ‘remote access lift’ into the care of the paramedic crew who were waiting. The injured biker was hospitalised for treatment but went on to make a full recovery.
Floss finds missing woman
It was in August 2019 that Floss was called upon to assist in a multi-agency response to the search for a high-risk vulnerable woman who had gone missing from the hospital four days earlier. The search teams had been unable to locate the woman for the four days before they called on Floss’s expertise to assist.
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Floss located her within 5 minutes of searching an overgrown area in the fields approximately five miles from the hospital where the woman had gone missing. She was found unconscious and barely alive and was transferred to the hospital where she remained for three weeks of treatment. Thankfully she made a full recovery and was able to return home to her loved ones.
The woman's family were so grateful to Floss and our team for saving her life that they organised various fundraising events for our charity. We were just so thankful that Floss was able to help bring this lady home to her family.
Floss is a finalist in the Naturo SuperDog Awards
Following Floss’s life-saving action we felt it only right to enter her into the Naturo Superdog Awards so that her invaluable achievement to humanity could be acknowledged in some way. She was nominated in the ‘Superdog’ category and was voted as one of the top 3 finalists to attend the awards in London on Tuesday 9th of November 2021.
Floss on the red carpet with her owners Clair & Raph O’Connor (handler)
SARDA IN are extremely proud of Floss and her achievements, not only is she a ‘SuperDog’, she is first and foremost our very much loved pet at home. Her two favourite places are either being outdoors doing the work that she loves or coming home to relax in front of the fire.
Based in Ireland, Clair O’Connor is the Communications Officer for SARDA IN and, together with her husband Raph, the proud owner of Floss, 2021 SuperDog Finalist.
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