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Retriever newest addition to SEADOGS

Posted: September 27, 2012 - 12:08am
Juneau SEADOGS volunteer Stacey Poulson takes her 2-year-old golden retriever, Sage, out for a walk at Cope Park on Wednesday. Sage was recently certified as a search and rescue dog.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Juneau SEADOGS volunteer Stacey Poulson takes her 2-year-old golden retriever, Sage, out for a walk at Cope Park on Wednesday. Sage was recently certified as a search and rescue dog.

SEADOGS has a new and energetic addition.

Sage, a 2 1/2-year-old Golden Retriever, recently became certified to join the Juneau-based K-9 search and rescue team.

“I’m very proud of her,” Sage’s handler Stacey Poulson, 46, said.

Sage passed two mock searches earlier this summer and then passed the final certification test in August. She is now certified in wilderness searches.

Before Sage joined their ranks, SEADOGS, which is short for SE Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search, had two dogs certified in wilderness searches, Poulson said. Sage makes three.

SEADOGS canines can be certified in different specialities, such as water, avalanche and cadaver. Sage is still working on other certifications, Poulson said.

SEADOGS administers its own rigorous certification tests.

Sage was required last month to conduct both a tracking and air scent search to find two people posing as missing hikers near Eaglecrest, Poulson said. Along the way, they encountered people who were instructed to give the dog and handler misinformation and to guide them the wrong way. Sage found the two “missing” hikers despite the obstacles — the first in less than 10 minutes, Poulson said.

Poulson said Sage is her first certified dog. The two have been training together since Sage was 7 weeks old.

Poulson, a former Juneau Mountain Rescue member, has been involved with SEADOGS since 2003 by helping in searches as a walk-along guide and in training exercises. Poulson is certified in search and rescue and has been trained in tracking, First aid and CPR.

She is married to fellow SEADOGS handler Kirk Radach, whose dog Ki recently retired at 13 years of age. Ki still works with educating children in schools, Poulson said.

SEADOGS is a group of volunteers who conduct searches for everything from lost hunters and hikers to suicide victims, according to their website.

Though they are based in Juneau and “Southeast” is in their name, they work closely with other search and rescue groups and Alaska State Troopers to conduct searches all over the state from Ketchikan to Barrow.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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