Meet K9 Belle!

Picture of a black and white puppy lying in the grass and holding a red leash in its mouthPlease join us in welcoming our newest recruit! This is Belle (full name is Belle Princesse la Sauveteur, French for “Beautiful Princess the Rescuer) and she is an 8 week old Springer Spaniel hailing from the great state of Michigan.

Her handler is a longtime member and friend of and field support for  Cascadia Search Dogs – Dan Merrifield. According to Dan, Belle is full of energy, loves to play and then crashes hard! Perfect for a SAR dog!

The new team will be training HRD and no doubt have many years of success in front of them! Welcome to the team, Princess Belle!

Clandestine Graves & Cold Case Searches Workshop

Group picture of attendees and their dogs

Photo courtesy of Dan DeVries Photography (

Recently we welcomed Paul Martin of HRD Specialized K-9 Training Est. 2002 to the Pacific Northwest for a Clandestine Graves & Cold Cases K9 Sar workshop.  12 handlers and their K9 partners from throughout Washington State, along with a few observers, went through a rigorous process to learn how to do a detailed search for the faint odors often required in old cold cases where teams may be asked to search for small bones.

A couple of days were spent at the Machias Community Cemetery and the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Snohomish County working graves over 100 years old.

Dog searching in a cemetery

K9 Kili searching in the cemetery.

Teams were also working parallel with a ground penetrating radar system on a real scenario at the Machias Community Cemetery and were able to determine that a grave in a family plot suspected to be empty indeed had a body buried there, although the grave right next to it was empty.   With this information in hand, family members are now able to make plans going forward.

We are grateful to the financial support we received from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation that allowed us to offer this unique, 4 ½ day workshop.

Computer screen view of the ground penetrating radar system

This is a shot of the screen from the ground penetrating radar system showing what is under the ground.

Man using a ground penetrating radar system on a gravesite

Paul Martin demonstrating the use of ground penetrating radar on a gravesite.

Dog and Handler Searching in a Cemetery

Handler Chris and K9 Makalu search the cemetery.

Our President Suzanne Elshult’s Interview with WA State Funeral Directors Association

In preparation for our June workshop with Paul Martin on Clandestine Graves and Cold Case Searches, a question arose about when embalming began in WA State.  This led us to reach out to the WA State Funeral Directors Association for answers.

This resulted in our President, Suzanne Elshult, being interviewed by their Executive Director, Robb Goff, talking about human remains detection dogs and how they can be utilized in cold case searches.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

Congratulations Chris and K9 Makalu!

Two men in the snow with a black dogThis past week Chris and his partner K9 Makalu passed their national re-certification test in Avalanche Search under the auspices of the National Search Dog Alliance.

This team is also certified in Area Search as well as Human Remains Black dog in the snow holding a yellow ball in his mouthDetection.

We are so proud of Chris and Makalu and all they bring to the world of search & rescue!