Kelowna’s Studio 9 School of the Arts students met a local hero on Friday morning (April 23).
Chase, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue’s (COSAR), furry team member, visited the students with his handler Terry Downs.
After Chase’s first rescue made the headlines, the students made him cards to thank him for his efforts. Studio 9 principal Cadence Trites then invited Downs and Chase to the school to present them with gifts of appreciation.
“COSAR members, I’m so in awe of them,” she said.
“Their dedication, the time they put in… it’s gruelling. -30 C temperatures don’t stop them. It’s pouring rain, it doesn’t stop them. I really appreciate that there are people out there with such big hearts and such amazing training and skills that are out there helping others.”
Trites, whose husband is a member of COSAR, said she wanted to invite Chase to the school as an interactive educational moment for her students. She also wanted to highlight the work search and rescue teams do.
“I thought it would be really great for the kids to know about him and recognize that people in the community do things like volunteering and especially with a dog, it just touches everybody’s hearts.”
“COSAR members, they miss birthday parties, they miss gatherings, they have to leave at the drop of a hat. But I’m willing to give up time with my husband so he can help others who need him,” she said.
On Friday, students gave Chase treats and were able to learn about the intensive training Downs has done with the pup, so he can be helpful to the community.
Downs said Chase is her first search dog, having worked with and trained canines for 25 years. She said she’s had other work dogs, including drug-sniffing ones.
She said Chase’s success isn’t lost on her or her colleagues.
“I had a peer contact me and she said ‘you know how rare this is? I waited ten years before my dog found anyone’,” she said.
“Obviously, I feel very blessed and fortunate and whether it took one time or a hundred times, the point is we’re here to help the team and help the community. Ultimately, that’s what’s most important.”
If you want to follow Chase’s adventures and what he does when he’s at work, visit his Instagram page.