Edmonds search and rescue dog nominated for national award

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Suzanne Elshult with her search and rescue dog Keb.

An Edmonds search and rescue dog is one of two dogs from Washington State competing for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards, an annual national competition.

A yellow Labrador retriever, Keb is owned by Edmonds resident Suzanne Elshult, Search and Rescue (SAR) dog handler. She is also president of Cascadia Search and Rescuean Edmonds-based non-profit organization that provides training for K9 SAR teams locally and statewide.

Elshult notes that as a pup, Keb “was quite a handful. She had endless energy, and she was fearless and ready to take on whatever was asked of her, full speed ahead. Keb began her training as a scent dog, to immediately find live victims, and soon after began training as a dual-purpose human remains detection dog.Within a few years, Keb and Elshult were certified in several SAR disciplines , including detecting the scent of wild air and human remains, as well as avalanche rescue and disaster first responders.

Keb

At 12, Keb is still actively deployed, although she is nearing the end of her search and rescue career. “We deployed on more than 100 missions together and deployed two weeks over a month-long span to one of Washington state’s biggest disasters – the Oso landslide,” Elshult said. The Oso landslide claimed 43 lives, three of whom Keb was tasked with finding.

“We searched the high snowfields of Mount Rainier for the lost and found bones that helped solve decades-old crimes,” Elshult wrote in nominating Keb for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. “We searched for clandestine graves of murder victims. We have been called upon to offer our services in the dark, wet, snowy and cold in the rainforests and rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. We searched in urban areas with homeless camps, drug needles, and thick blackberry bushes. The pair even traveled to Scandinavia, where Keb made a discovery that solved an 18-month-old mystery, Elshult said.

Individuals can vote every day for Keb here to help him move on to one of the three finalist dogs.

Elshult also noted that Lyons Press will publish a book about their adventures in October: A Dog’s Devotion: The True Adventures of a K9 Search and Rescue Team.

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