A RESCUE dog is beating the odds, looking to become one of Essex County Fire and Rescue’s newest employees.

Once a stray Labrador, Bailey, who is 18 months to two years old, is in training to join the service’s dog team.

Bailey was originally taken in by the Dogs Trust, with many worried he may be a lost cause.

But one phone call later and Bailey was sniffing a trail to not only a new home, but a new career.

Louise Crawford, animal welfare scheme co-ordinator at Dogs Trust, contacted the UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) and other services to ask if anyone was looking for a new search dog.

This was picked up by Graham Currie, dog handler at the Essex fire service, who is based in Colchester and a member of UKISAR.

He said: “I’d been looking for a dog for just under a year when Louise put out Bailey’s details so I went up to Loughborough Dogs Trust the following day.

“After testing Bailey’s drive for a tennis ball and checking he had no aggression towards other dogs or people, I offered to take him on a six-week trial.

“By the third day, I was 95 per cent sure he was the one."

The Labrador has so far completed seven days of UKISAR training and has excelled at learning search and rescue activities.

Graham is planning ahead and training Bailey to take over from Jarvis, an eight-year-old cocker spaniel and live scent search dog for the service, when he retires.

He will be one of 20 dogs used by Urban Search and Rescue teams up and down the country.

Bailey will also be part of UKISAR, attending disaster zones across the globe.
It usually takes 18 months to three years to train a dog but Bailey could be ready as early as next April.

Graham has three other dogs - Jarvis, the search and rescue cocker spaniel; Fizz, Essex Fie Service’s fire investigation sprocker spaniel and Ailith, a 12-and-a-half-year-old springer spaniel who came from the Scottish Highlands.

He said: “We treat them like dogs.

“They can go and play, chase each other, swim in rivers and the sea, but as soon as the search harness is on, they know they have work to do.

“We’ve landed on our feet with Bailey – and so has he, because he has a lovely home now.

“We are super proud.”