A hero of a different kind was honoured this week – a young labrador called Rauour who helped his mountain rescue team find a critically-injured woman in a blizzard.
The three-year-old dog, from Selkirk, has been feted by vet charity PDSA and presented with a commendation by the charity’s vet surgeon, John Faulkner, at the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team’s new Melrose base.
Rauour, an auburn-haired dog – so named because Rauour means red in Icelandic – was trained by Search and Rescue Dog Association Southern Scotland, and he works as part of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team.
He received his award for finding a high-risk casualty in storm-force conditions back in February 2015, following a three-hour search by a 20-strong human team on foot.
The commendation is part of the charity’s Animal Awards programme, celebrating the devotion and enrichment that animals bring to people’s lives.
The search and rescue team was called out on February 28 last year to find a missing person thought to be at considerable risk.
A Met Office amber weather warning was in place, and blizzard conditions had already set in around the Innerleithen area. The team had searched the area on foot for three hours before Rauour and his handler, John Romanes, were dispatched to an area by Leithen Water.
Two minutes into Rauour’s search, he signalled by barking to John, who followed him into the undergrowth.
Rauour had found the casualty, a woman trapped in the hole of a tree root, with only her legs visible. She was unconscious and suffering advanced hypothermia.
Thanks to Rauour’s powers of scent detection, the casualty was found in the nick of time. John and his search partner Roddy administered emergency first aid and called a Royal Navy helicopter to airlift her to hospital.
John said: “Rauour’s detection skills really came to the fore that night. His role as an air scenting search dog was more effective than a 20-strong team performing a line search on the ground. Without him finding the casualty when he did, the outcome could have been very grave indeed.
“The work of search and rescue dogs across the country is absolutely vital.
“Their skills are priceless, and Rauour’s story serves as a reminder of just how lucky we are to have these dogs here to help us.”