“When it comes to search and rescue, this dog is a rock star and loves to help people”
If anyone goes missing, a sweet search and rescue dog named Küsse will do her best to find them.
Küsse, German for “kisses,” is a search and rescue dog who competed for the title of American Humane Hero Dog in the search and rescue category. Küsse has an amazing talent for finding the lost and missing. Her skills have earned her lots of praise in her career.
Over half a million-people voted for Küsse, who was a semifinalist. Other categories in the contest included therapy dogs, service dogs, military dogs, law enforcement dogs; shelter dogs, and guide/hearing dogs.
Küsse belongs to Corey Speegle, who lives in Sheffield, Alabama and was the only dog representing the state that year. Speegle has owned Küsse since she was a puppy and began training her at a year old. Speegle says he used the “recall/refind” method to train her:
“I say, ‘show me,’ and she will return to me and lead me to the person,” he said. “When she finds somebody, she gets her purple kong wubba, her favorite toy in the whole world.”
“The new thinking is you don’t want the dog to bark at someone and scare them, so she’s trained to find them and, depending on the distance, she returns to me and lets me know she found them,” he said.
So that he doesn’t lose track of Küsse, who can travel much farther and faster, Speegle uses a handheld detection module that is synched to Küsse’s collar, which can track her up to 9 miles via a GPS signal, which is very helpful with young or injured victims:
“Occasionally, with small children, the dog won’t leave the child,” he said. “It will lay down and stay with the subject, so we can still track where the dog is.”
She can also find people by using their scent:
“She also does scent article finds,” Speegle said. “Küsse locates a person using a scent article – a sock, hat or shirt, for instance. Küsse will work on- or off-lead,” he said. “If you have someone lost in a national forest, she can use that scent to find them.”
Küsse is a rock star at her job and loves helping people. She also trained with the Federal Emergency Management Association as well as completing numerous search and rescue classes with Speegle.
“I’ve taken advanced building search classes through detection services, and I’ve had boat training to locate bodies in the water,” Speegle said. All of their training helped prepare them for calls such as when they were called to work search and reconnaissance in Cookeville, Tennessee, after a powerful EF4 tornado devastated the town one morning.
Remembering that day:
“Küsse and I worked for hours on end to help find survivors and bring closure to families with missing loved ones,” said Speegle, who volunteers with the White Oak Volunteer Fire Department’s K-9 Search and Rescue crew. The team also uses highly trained cadaver dogs.
“It was like a bomb went off there,” he said. “We stayed until the last person was accounted for – it wasn’t pretty, as you can imagine.”
Despite their valiant effort, Küsse and Speegle didn’t find any survivors among the 27-people missing, after days of searching:
“Küsse is a beautiful dog, and she loves to serve and help find missing people,” said Speegle, state coordinator for the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons and a volunteer firefighter for Spring Valley and White Oak Volunteer Fire departments. “Her mother is a German Shepherd from the Czech Republic and the father is a second-generation explosives dog out of Fort Hood, Texas.”
Some other notable searches include locating a 20-year-old marathon runner as well as a 6-year-old child:
“The marathon runner went missing during a storm. He’d gone running in the evening and it had stormed all night,” Speegle said. “We tracked him 200 to 300 yards but Küsse lost his scent because of the rain. But she assisted law enforcement to go in the right direction to find him.” Eventually, the runner was found sheltering in a nearby house.
The child went missing during a search for graves at the Legrange Cemetery in Leighton, Alabama where Speegle and Küsse were working on the historical project with a team of volunteers. One of the volunteer’s children went missing in the rough terrain and thankfully Küsse was there to find her:
“This little 6-year-old girl had wandered off 200 to 300 yards,” Speegle said. “Küsse found her at the back of the cemetery, at the wood line. It was a little scary for all of us.”
Not all searches have a happy ending but that one did. Despite the prospect of sadness, Küsse loves to find people and it is great at it. We hope you enjoyed learning about her heroism. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.