fidecanem.ca celebrates and explores the training, techniques, and tactics of search dogs and their handlers. It is focused on urban search and rescue (USAR) and ground search and rescue (GSAR) profiles, including cadaver or human remains detection. Other topics, such as dog training fundamentals, book reviews, and the occasional touch of humour, may also be of interest to other working dog handlers and pet dog trainers and owners.
About Mike Gilbertson
Mike Gilbertson is the driving force behind fidecanem.ca. This creative project combines Mike's years of training and real-world experience as a working SAR dog handler, his ongoing exploration of dog training methodologies, and his enthusiasm for sharing that knowledge. His eye for a good photograph helps communicate the message.
Mike's first formal dog training experience was as part of his job as a National Park Warden with Parks Canada. His duties focused on law enforcement and public safety, and as part of those responsibilities he served as a Warden Service Dog Handler. Along with Warden Service Dog (WSD) Ringo, a German Shepherd Dog, he successfully completed the 15-week police dog training program at the Ontario Provincial Police Canine Unit. Mike trained with WSD Ringo in obedience, tracking, area searches, building searches, article searches (for human-scented articles and for firearms and shell casings), and apprehension. Their operational calls involved law enforcement and search and rescue responses.
For five years, along with Search and Rescue Dog Keji, Mike was a volunteer Canine Search Specialist with Canada Task Force 4 (CAN TF4). CAN TF4 is Manitoba’s heavy urban search and rescue (USAR) team, one of only four in Canada. Mike and Keji trained with the K9 Unit of the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) and were certified to the national USAR K9 standard through the Manitoba Emergency Services College. They took part in a number of provincial and national USAR exercises.
SAR Dog Keji and Mike also trained and certified in ground search and rescue (GSAR). They were active members of Winnipeg Search and Rescue, and were involved in dozens of operational missing person searches throughout the province of Manitoba.
SAR Dog Keji was also cross-trained as a cadaver or human remains detection dog. The team assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Winnipeg Police Service on many search and recovery calls associated with missing person and homicide investigations.
During that time Mike also served as the president of the Manitoba Search and Rescue Dog Association, an affiliate of Search and Rescue Manitoba (SARMAN). In that role he assisted the OFC K9 Unit in the training and evaluation of GSAR K9 handlers and SAR dogs. Mike presented seminars on the fundamentals of dog training and GSAR K9 search tactics, coached prospective dog handlers in obedience and other skill profiles, and helped to facilitate a range of other search dog training opportunities.
In addition to his ongoing self-study, Mike's learning opportunities included the following courses through the Manitoba Emergency Services College:
- Lead Instructor in K9 Search and Rescue
- Canine Search Specialist
- K9 Administrator
- K9 Evaluator
- K9 Quarry
- K9 Trauma First Aid
Mike recently relocated to Prince Edward Island. While his interest in SAR dog training continues, he has also begun to explore the benefits of applying working dog techniques to pet dog training. Mike is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
About the Photographs
Most of the photographs on fidecanem.ca are taken by Mike or Trudy Gilbertson (who is also an experienced quarry, which is a valuable and often under-appreciated asset in dog training).
And yes, they do feature a lot of shots of SAR Dog Keji (who, believe it or not, doesn't actually enjoy having his picture taken).