Charlie the rescue dog becomes the rescuer.

In 2004 Sam and Wendy Willoughby started the charity Gundog Rescue and Rehoming (GDR&R) with the aim of finding homes for unwanted gundogs of various breeds. For older dogs this may mean retirement homes but for younger dogs, homes where they will be able to meet the needs of the individual dog so they can grow and achieve their full potential.

Charlie a Springer Spaniel came from a family, who had like many others underestimated the time, dedication and needs of such an active and energetic breed, and without the proper exercise and training quickly became uncontrollable.

When Charlie arrived with GDR&R, Sam started initial training and while he showed great potential mastering the basic skills very quickly, his endless energy meant he needed not only a younger fitter handler but a new home that could harness Charlie’s enthusiasm, stamina and give him a purpose in life.

Sam could think of no better people, that could take on the challenge, than Christopher and Mackenzie Corbett. During lockdown the boys spent many hours working with Charlie in preparation to take on any new challenge.

K9 Search & Rescue NI is an organisation that helps HM Coastguard & families search for vulnerable missing people.  They put 14 month old Charlie through his paces to see if he could make the grade and be considered as a suitable candidate for training as a Victim Recovery Dog.

Having aced the pre assessment Charlie started his formal training on the shores of Lough Neagh working on victim recovery. Charlie’s training included locating simulated deceased people submerged in water and getting used to working on a boat, in tight, noisy and sometimes difficult conditions – Charlie took it all in his stride.

Recently Charlie progressed in his training to searching river banks, and he continues to grow in confidence, excel in training and relishes the challenges his handlers set him.

Charlie was donated to K9 Search & Rescue NI but his success could not have been possible without the hard work of two excellent young ambassadors Christopher and Mackenzie Corbett, as well as Wendy and Sam from GDR&R.

As Charlie continues, on what we hope will be a long and successful career, it should also be noted the generosity of Feedwell Dog Food for committing to support Charlie now and long into the future.

CAI Director Gary McCartney said: “CAI has been privileged to work with GDR&R.  As people who partake in country sports pursuits, we only have to look back to last year where wildfowlers got stranded as they tried to make their way back to shore and it is reassuring to know that Charlie and the dedicated team at K9 Search & Rescue NI are on hand to help.”

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