Utah Search Dogs brings on a new team

Jul 26, 2022, 9:40 AM | Updated: 6:17 pm

CENTERVILLE, Utah — Utah Search Dogs, a nonprofit that joins together handlers and their dogs to help with search and rescue efforts across the state, is bringing on a new team.

Casey Koon, and her newest family member slash teammate, Ragnar, formerly Driggs, may be all puppy right now, but they are putting in work to one day help provide closure and save lives.

“Look at those ears!” Koon said.

The German shepherd and his handler will train together as the newest team with Utah Search Dogs, a Utah nonprofit that trains and equips search dog teams to help federal, state and local authorities in emergency search and rescue situations.

“I fell in love with it immediately,” Koon said.

It’s Koon’s way to give back following two near-death experiences in her lifetime, including a car wreck where doctors initially said her chances of living were slim, and if she did live, she would probably lose an arm.

Both times, strangers came to her rescue.

“I haven’t looked back,” Koon said.

Rather, she’s been looking down at Ragnar, who, these days, is more often than not caught pairing his new set of pointy ears with his sniffer to sniff out sticks – and shoes.

Before you know it, 10-and-a-half-week-old Ragnar will be running with the big dogs.

For now, they’ll continue logging hours of training and learning from other handlers and their dogs.

Eventually, they will get to the point where they will focus on defeating areas that could include anything from wilderness searches and avalanches to missing persons and runaways.

“We work very closely with various counties, like track and trailing, area search, human remains detection, distaste search,” said Jayson Harames, president of Utah Search Dogs.

“I work with my dog about 15 minutes at least every day, and then on weekends two to three hours,” Harames said.

In the meantime, Ragnar will be sitting like the good boy he is watching and learning what big paws he’ll get to fill.

“I think that we’ll start off with the tracking. I’m really interested in doing avalanche as well. We’ll take it one step at a time,” Koon said.

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Utah Search Dogs brings on a new team