Meet Rachel & Rylee, a border collie search and rescue team in training. When Rachel was a senior in high school she worked on training Rylee in the field of search & rescue for her Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project through her local Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter. We love supporting our youth in America in endevors such as these!

“I have become very involved in our FFA chapter; and through this organization we are encouraged to do a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). An SAE should be semi-related to your future career. While attending the national FFA convention this past year, I had the privilege to tour Camp Atturbury (a training base of the Indiana National Guard) and the area where the Search & Rescue Dogs are trained. (I have always had a way with animals and have trained many different kinds.) After seeing what the soldiers had trained the dogs to do, I knew this what I wanted my SAE project to be. After I returned from that trip, I did countless hours of research & talked to trainers specializing in search & rescue training. I am 100% confident in my ability to train a search & rescue dog.” ~ Rachel H.

“Rylee is doing wonderful! We’ve had quite a bit of excitement since we’ve been home, as we just had 8 baby ducks born. (There’s even more on the way!) It’s so cute to see how curious Rylee is with them. She still has not had a single accident, every time she needs to go outside she alerts us. She’s such a little smarty. đŸ™‚
Rylee is doing so well, and fits right in, with all of us. Since she has come home, she has mastered sit, down, and rollover. She’s doing pretty well on the come and stay command but she is not quite fool proof. Yesterday Rylee got to come to school with me for our annual Ag Day. We taught a class of about 80, 1st and 2nd graders, on basic dog care. Rylee handled all the kids in stride and I was extremely pleased! By the end of the day, to say the least, she was extremely tired. She is getting lots of exposure to many different experiences and she handles each one absolutely perfect. I see so much potential in her and that makes me so excited! Rylee is probably the most photogenic animal I have ever seen- she loves the camera just as much as she loves getting attention!”

“Dear Kara and Family,
Rylee is growing like a weed! I’m a little bit sad about it, because I know that she’s growing up already, but it also has me itching to get started with her! I have already introduced her to the concept of search and rescue by “playing” hide and seek with my sisters. In the beginning, I would have my sisters wear a hat (all day) to get their scent on it. Later, in the evening we would start! I would hang on to Rylee while one of my sisters would “hide” in plain sight. We allowed her to watch the whole process. I would then let her smell the hat, and give her the search command. (We have been working on this with treats out on the lawn- although she knew the search command for treats- this experience was new to her). When we first started, I mostly led her to my sister. As soon as she touched any part of my sister we would praise her. Because Rylee is extremely praise orientated, it didn’t take her long to figure out what the objective of this new game was. She impresses me every time I work with her! Now I can have both of my sisters hide, show her one hat, and she is able to find which scent I gave her! Words can’t even describe how much I love this dog! She works so hard at everything she does and I know she is going to do amazing things!
Thank you so much again,
​Rachel”

This week has been quite the adventure for little Rylee. Because school is out my sisters and I have been working extra hard fine tuning Rylee’s scenting skills. We are all absolutely blown away with what this little dog can do already! She can find her Kong toy when we bury it in the rock pile, and then turn right around and find my sisters. Her abilities to decipher the different smells is absolutely mind boggling.

“Two weeks ago Rylee was also able to come on our churches annual biking trip. We spent three days biking and Rylee biked right along with us. Of course we didn’t have her run the whole thing. We had gotten her a kids cart that attaches to my bike. She rode like a little doll the whole way. Just about everyone we met on the trail complimented us on her good looks and manners! To say the very least, Rylee loved the attention. On this trip she also got to attend the church service we had. It was so cute how well she listened!

This week we will be having an exchange student from Delaware at our house. I’m hoping to convince her to let Rylee find her a couple times, for practice. Anytime friends come over we usually let Rylee try to find them, for the sake of getting used to different smells and it’s been working well.”

With all of the bitterly cold and nasty weather we’ve been having, it has been hard to continue outside lessons with Rylee because we both get so cold, so quickly! As a result we usually get out twice a week and limit the searches to smaller lessons, which has been working okay. She’s such a smart dog and I hate not being able to work with her on a daily basis! As a result I’ve decided to try something a little different on our off days. Because Rylee has such an off and on switch I have decided to channel this into doing something to continue to help others. I have been working on teaching her some of the requirements needed to pass the test to become a certified therapy dog!! We, of course, still plan on getting certified for search and rescue. Because search and rescue dogs only get sent out on missions about 5 times in their life span I would really like to use Rylee’s talents to an even further cause. I know that she would be able to do both because of the temperament and work drive she has and the way she interacts with people! ~Rachel & Rylee