SPEK-9 is a company which has been set up by Neil Powell and John Sjoberg, in response to many demands from the dog training world. Its purpose is primarily to impart the knowledge and skills which John and Neil have developed over their respective, 20 - 30 years of training search dogs.
In the late 1980s, John was a member of the Swedish Special Forces with particular responsibility for finding a method of training dogs to detect enemy underwater swimmers and hidden equipment under the water surface. Following this mission, he went on to develop a method for detecting drowned victims and has been used extensively by authorities in Sweden, Norway and N. Ireland, for whom he has located many bodies in water. With his dog Zampo, he has also worked with Police and Forensic teams, to help locate evidence in murder trials. He even managed to locate 15 graves, which are almost 2000 years old, for an archaeological study by a Swedish University.
In June 2008, John and Neil launched SPEK-9 when they ran the first ever Drowned Victim Search Dog course for dog handlers from the National Search And Rescue Dog Association of the UK and Ireland. This was seen by all as a landmark achievement because the location of drowned victims has always been the most difficult of the search dog disciplines. Drowned Victim Search Dog handlers throughout the UK and Ireland, will now begin training to reach the Standards and Assessment requirement set by SPEK-9 and accepted by NSARDA, before they can become operational.
SPEK-9 Training Services
We are committed to providing professional, in depth training to handlers, wishing to become Drowned Victim Search Dog handlers. The course will undertake to bring a dog and handler, who have the appropriate disposition and temperament, to a level where they can successfully locate a drowned victim in one kilometre square of water, to an accuracy of a few meters. The Training and Assessment Standards used are those which have been approved by the National Search and Rescue Dog Association of the UK and Ireland, (NSARDA), 2008. Our training methods are based on the principles of Operant Conditioning and the use of appropriate and accurately timed reward so as to shape the desired behaviour of the dog.
The dog and handler will work from a small inflatable and the handler will be taught to use the dog to best advantage, with respect to wind, current and temperature. Handlers will be invited to N. Ireland, which is where the course is based, and they will undergo extensive initial training. On successful completion of each training module, they will be asked to return again after a period of home practice, for us to assess their progress and to take them to the next level. Where travel to N. Ireland is problematic, we can provide the training in a mutually agreed location, provided it has all the basic facilities required by the SPEK-9 instructors.
John began training his first Military Duty dog in the mid 1980s. That was followed by almost 20 years of dog training and instructor duties in the Armed Forces and in the SARDA Department of the Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK).
John’s enthusiasm for dogs and different training methods involved him in gun dog training and in the training of sheep dogs and the training of dogs to herd cows.
His main achievements to date are:
- 1986 Qualified as Military Duty Dog handler.
- 1987 Qualified as Military Dog Instructor Level 1.
- 1988 Qualified as Military Dog Instructor Level 2.
- 1987 - 1996 Project/Development Manager for different dog projects in the Armed Forces.
- 1990 Trained first ever Water Search Dog in Sweden.
- 1992 - 1996 Project Manager/Participant in National and International Working Dogs Symp.
- 1993 Qualified Dog Instructor by Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK).
- 1993 Qualified as Rescue Dog Handler by the Swedish Working Dog Ass. (SBK).
- 1993 Accepted as Specialist Support Services for Swedish Police and Fire Services.
- 1993 - 1997 Chairman of a Local Working Dog Ass. and the Swedish Rescue Dog Ass.
- 1993 - 2008 Professional Networking with Neil to develop training methods for DVS-dogs.
- 1994 Qualified Rescue Dog Instructor by Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK).
- 1998 Qualified Technical/Tactical Mine Clearance Advisor by the Armed Forces.
- 2000 - 2008 Senior Duty Dog Advisor for the Swedish Armed Forces.
John's Landmark Achievements
- 1987. John started to develop Duty Dog Training for military purposes in different environments.
- 1990. John trained Swedens first drowned victim search dog Zampo who went on to locate a number of drowned victims throughout Sweden, Norway and Ireland.
- 1990-1993. John undertook specialist training in drugs and explosives detection dogs.
- 1996. John set up a company to search for missing people and objects. Police, Rescue Services and Insurance Companies where the main customers. He has since worked about 1000 hours in Sweden and Norway with actual cases.
- 1997. John and Zampo successfully undertook a test organised by a Norwegian Forensic Professor to examine their capacity to locate human remains in the wilderness.
- 2000. John and Zampo successfully undertook a test organised by a Swedish Forensic Professor to examine their capacity to locate graves and human remains older than 1 500 years.
- Since John´s latest 2 dogs Zampo and Aegir died 2002 has he focused mainly on running courses and development projects. Today are the Armed Forces, NGO:s and in some cases private customers his main clients..
- 2008. Cooperated with Neil to run the first Drowned Victim Search Dog course in UK & Ireland.
- 2008. Cooperated with Neil to write the Training and Assessment standards for Drowned Victim Search Dogs at the request of NSARDA.
Neil began training his first Mountain Rescue Search dog in the mid 1970s and, when they qualified in the Cairngorms two years later, he introduced the Search And Rescue Dog Association, (SARDA), to Ireland.
His main achievements to date are:
- 1976 Qualified as Search and Rescue Dog handler.
- 1985 Qualified Assessor of Search and Rescue Dogs.
- 1992 Trained first ever Water Search Dog in UK.
- 1998 Trained drugs dog under ex Home Office examiner/instructor.
- 1999 Training Officer for Canis Specialist Search Dogs.
- 1999 Trained in Leisure Trade security services.
- 2000 Accepted as Specialist Support Services for UKFSSART.
- 2001 Trained explosives search dog with the military.
- 2002 Accepted as Specialist Support Services for NI Fire Service.
- 2003 Member of British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers.
- 2004 Chairman of S A R D A (Ireland – North).
- 2004 Appointed dog handler to NI Fire Service USAR Team.
- 2005 Invited by the ODPM to design and run a course for the training and assessment of all urban search and rescue dogs for the Fire and rescue Service of England.
- 2005 Trained an Arson Detection Dog for an Italian commercial team.
- 2006 Trained World’s first optical discs detection dogs.
- 2007 On behalf of the Malaysian Government, Neil also trained Paddy and Manny to find optical discs.
- 2008 Cooperated with John to run the first Drowned Victim Search Dog course in UK & Ireland.
- 2008 Cooperated with John to write the Training and Assessment standards for Drowned Victim Search Dogs at the request of NSARDA.
Neil's Landmark Achievements
- 1992. Neil trained the UK’s first drowned victim search dog Cuisle who went on to locate a number of drowned victims throughout Ireland. He trained two other DVS dogs but his current DVSD, Fern, is the most promising yet, having already located two drowned victims in the first year after her assessment.
- 1998. Neil undertook specialist training in drugs and explosives detection dogs.
- He set up a company to search for drugs in the night clubs in NI.He also operated an explosives search dog at Canary Warf, The Dome and at the MCC ground.
- With his collapsed structure dogs, Dylan, Cracker and Charco, he has been part of the UK specialist search and heavy rescue teams at earthquakes in Turkey, Dylan and Cracker both were awarded the highly regarded PDSA Gold Medal for Valour, following their work in both Turkish earthquakes.
- Neil and Charco, Sam and Fern are also volunteer members of the NI USAR Team based in Belfast. They are called out by a pager system to assist in searches for persons believed to have become trapped under a collapsed structure or drowned and still under water.
- 2006. Neil trained the world’s first Optical Disc Detection Dogs, Lucky and Flo at the request of the Motion Picture Association of America.