OSCAR & SARDA Spotlight: Alex Lyons & Max


OSCAR are proud to sponsor National Search and Rescue Dogs (NSARDA). The work that these lifesaving volunteers and dogs carry out is truly inspiring. By feeding all the graded (qualified) dogs for free, we aim to ensure that every SARDA dog is fully up to the gruelling challenge of searching hill, dale and urban spaces for loved ones.

We plan to get to know the SARDA handlers better and share some of their experience and stories over the coming weeks and months.



Handler Name: Alex Lyons

Search Dog Details: Max is a 10 year old Border Collie.

Search and Rescue Team: “I was a member of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team for 31 years. The first 4 years I was with Plymouth Section, the other years with Tavistock Section. I graded my first dog with SARDA England in Feb 1987. Max is my fourth search dog.”

Search Dog Type: Max was trained as an open area air scenting search dog.



Air scenting search dogs search routes, paths and areas looking for human scent particles. They do not discriminate scent i.e. they do not look for specific people but will look for anyone that is in the area. Once the dog finds a missing person they will return to their handler and ‘indicate‘ with a bark or by jumping up at them. Then the dog will take their handler back to the missing person with a ‘show me‘ command.


Which Oscar food is Max fed?

Oscar Adult Care Pinnacle Plus like most of the SARDA dogs


How long have you and Max been working together as a graded search dog team?

“Max was graded for 8 years and retired in January 2015. I have retired Max early because he has stiff hips after long searches.”


What has been your proudest moment with Max?

“My proudest moment would be finding Margaret in 2009 (featured in the video below). Margaret, at the time, was 79 years old and had been missing for 3 days and 2 nights in the cold, after getting off the bus at the wrong stop. We were called to help locate Margaret and she was found by Max on the 12th December, she had gotten lost coming off the bus. This was a very good dog find by Max.”


What is Max’s favourite game?

“To Max, a search and rescue is a game, which he loves! Max is also toy driven and loves playing fetch!”


How many searches have you and Max been involved in?

“Over Max’s 8 years as a graded search dog, we have been involved in over 200 searches. Of these searches we have been part of, we have had 5 ‘finds’.”


How will you and Max enjoy your retirement?

“I am still involved with SARDA England, helping train and assess new dogs and handlers. Max still gets to have ‘finds’ when training, but only 5 minute searches, so his hips don’t hurt.”


Help Spread The Word

Take a look at our SARDA page for suggested ways to contribute or donate. Or simply share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. You and I might need their help one day – you’ll be glad you helped!

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