June's main meeting was a very different one with a visit from some of the Wiltshire based Serve On team and their rescue dogs. The team have attended many of the disasters which make the news, both in the UK and abroad and they can provide assistance needed at short notice. Collapsed buildings, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and missing persons are just a flavour of the situations the team may find themselves in.
After an introductory talk, we all moved outside to see the dogs at work. Jess and Poppy showed us scent work, where Poppy was sent out on three occasions to seek out some teeth, skin from a large blister, and human hair garnered from a dental practice, a team member, and the hairbrush of a Pewsham Belle respectively. Each dog is trained in a particular skill, such as air scent detection, water rescue, cadaver recovery, collapsed buildings or tunnel work. One amazing trivia fact: we lose 40,000 skin cells a minute, which form a cone of scent that a dog can follow easily.
One dog was just a few weeks old and so the Pewsham Belles formed part of his early training, so the puppy could get used to lots of people and attention plus sudden sounds. He was particularly lively and Paddy explained this is a good trait for a dog to have as the training is exhausting - Jess added one session can be as tiring as taking them out for a seven mile walk!
Luka demonstrated the art of searching, when John hid behind a fence. You may notice from some of the photos that the dogs are wearing a coat. This is placed on them as a signal that they're about to start work. Gentle bells also signal to the owner where the dog is, particularly when out of sight and will also reassure anyone trapped and awaiting rescue that help is near.
Judging by the attention given and the myriad of questions asked, the practical part of the evening and a chance to interact with the dogs and their handlers were a hit! We rounded off the evening by donating the proceeds of our refreshments - £40 - to add to the speaker fee.
Elsewhere this month, our Belles have been out and about with visits to the murder mystery walk at Corsham Walking Festival; Wiltshire Federation's Centenary Fair at Rowdeford School; a quiz evening at the Pack Horse, and a fantastic afternoon comprising a tour, cookery demonstration and afternoon tea at Denman. The Flexi Club tried the regular Wednesday coffee morning at St Andrew's church for the first time and declared the £2.20 for coffee and cake a bargain, as was £20 for the Denman visit!
Indoor activities included a return to decoupage for the Crafty Crew and the review of Joanne Cannon's Three Things About Elsie by the Book Club. The writing group also met and have embarked on their latest secret project!
Thanks to Serve On for the photos of Luka and the Pewsham Belles crowd photo used in the collage at the top and bottom right respectively.