Debbie Smith


Hi my name is Debbie I have been involved as a volunteer in the Civil Defence, Order of Malta and Irish Water Safety for the past 15 years. I work as an Occupational First-Aid Instructor and Swim teacher. I love the outdoors whether in the water or on land!

Having been on many searches both on the land and the lake I was inspired and impressed by a demo Helen gave to the Civil Defence and wanted to learn more about search dogs.

My daughter Esther and I started to ‘DOGS-BODY’ in around 2004, we were welcomed with open arms by Trevor, Denis and Peter who were training their dogs in the Mahon Falls and the Vee. We spent many a day on the hills enjoying the friendship, the craic and learning how the dogs go through the different stages of training. Then Mick and Trevor qualified their dogs. It was inspiring to watch them go through the different stages and assessments. They put in lots of hard work.
I began training a pure white Collie/Husky cross called Tippex but he preferred hunting for deer to finding people so he went to live with a family who don’t take him on the hills!
In 2006 I was involved in a car accident which stopped me in my tracks so delayed me getting stuck in to training but got a pup calling him ‘NEMO’. He’s a Springer/Rough Collie cross and according to Gerry ‘very pretty’!
I  met Henry one training weekend in Oughterard, Co. Galway, we found a common bond, started a romance and rather than walk the hills alone we decided to ‘GET MARRIED’.
So SARDA has taken a back seat for a while with wedding plans and a new life. We continue to walk our dogs and train Nemo whenever possible. Henry’s old Search dog MORSE died recently so we sadly have one less, he now has a new pup but I will let him tell you about that.
Nemo has passed his obedience and recently his stock test and my physio seems to be improving the back so with a bit of effort on my part I will be back on the hills more often.
It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and determination to train a dog as any of our members will tell you but if we can save but one life and a family’s heartache of searching for a loved one then it’s all worth it.
And why not have some fun on the way meeting new friends, oh and new furry friends too!
Who knows maybe one day I will take my dog on a ‘REAL’ search?…..