How To Join

Application Process: 

Training and certifying with your canine represents a significant commitment in time and energy by the entire team. NEK9 is a small, select, skilled and dedicated team that places tremendous responsibility on each individual for the success of the whole. Therefore, applicants are accepted with great care.

Before considering applying  to NEK9, please read the following.

An applicant must:

  • read everything on the website to get familiar with the team.
  • be a primary, legal resident of New Hampshire or Vermont or reside year-round in a town in Maine, Massachusetts or New York that has part of its town limits within 10 miles of NH or VT.
  • have excellent navigation skills with map, compass and GPS.
  • be familiar with search and rescue training/protocol.
  • be physically fit as to not be a liability to the team. Fitness test: Trail hike of 3.5 miles that includes an elevation change of 800-900 feet carrying a 20lb pack in less than 105 minutes.
  • have a flexible schedule allowing for immediate departure from work or home to respond to a search and have the ability to be absent for an unknown amount of time – possibly overnight or into the next day.

NEK9 members are volunteers and all costs are the members responsibly. Expect to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket each year. There is no charge for the  training itself, but all equipment, travel costs, etc. are the member’s responsibility.

Some of the expenses involved are:

  • vehicle maintenance
  • gas (expect to drive 5,000-10,000 miles per year)
  • canine food & equipment
  • handler equipment
  • veterinary costs

If you do not have a canine, please wait until you have some firsthand experience training with the team. NEK9 looks for specific characteristics and temperament for a SAR canine. We have seasoned handlers who can assist you with the selection process.

If you currently have a canine under 3 years old, an assessment will be made through observation and testing. Temperament and drive are the two necessary traits in the SAR canine. A canine that is not afraid of people, new places or loud noises and that will play with a toy endlessly are good candidates. Our canines train and search for long hours in difficult conditions all for the reward and praise from the handler.

Recommended books and online learning programs:

  • Search and Rescue Dogs: Training The K9 Hero -American Rescue Dog Association.
  • Scent and The Scenting Dog – William Syrotuck
  • Be An Expert With Map And Compass – Kjellstrom (or an online map and compass course)
  • Online learning for the Garmin Alpha 100- (GPS currently used by NEK9) Garmin Support

Once you have considered the above please email us to inquire if we are  taking applications.

If instructed to do so, please fill out an Application Form.

Send the application to PO Box 407, Grantham, NH 03753 or email to

Individuals interested in becoming part of our communications team, please follow the procedure above.