2015 Group Photo

2017 Fall Canine Seminar

A lot of learning happening at the 2016 Seminar.

The 2017 Alpha Search and Recovery Fall Canine Seminar will be hosted in Trinity, Texas on November 10th through the 12th with NASAR canine certifications on November 9th.  Alpha Search and Recovery has held a seminar every year for search dogs and their handlers as well as provide certification opportunities through NASAR for the past 4 years.
Please check back frequently. We will be updating this page as we gain more information. Registration is now CLOSED. 

Visit our Smugmug Page to see pictures of our past seminars!

National Association for Search and Rescue
The purpose of this seminar is to further the training and education of individuals and their K9 partners so that those teams can go back to their hometowns and make a positive difference for their community and region. We bring in top-quality instructors and utilize the most up-to-date techniques and training aides available to maximize what our students get out of their training.

During this seminar, students and their K9’s will be challenged by both indoor and outdoor scenarios as well as some classroom instruction. There will be certification opportunities and we encourage your feedback as to what certifications you may be interested in acquiring.

The seminar is open to all levels of training, from new to the search and rescue field or a seasoned veteran, we welcome you to join us.

INBTI Logo - International Bloodhound Training Institute LogoTrailing students should purchase or be familiar with the book “How to Train a Police Bloodhound and Scent Discriminating Patrol Dog.” as the instruction and scenarios will be based on these methods. The book may be purchased through Amazon by following the link or by contacting us ahead of time and we will bring some for sale. The International Bloodhound Training Institute (INBTI) will be providing the instructors.

Maverick working a bush line on an incline.

HRD Canine Maverick

There are a variety of registration opportunities, with and without lodging and/or food, and individual options for NASAR Certifications. Preference for NASAR Certifications will go to those attending the seminar, but if there are available slots, we will open additional slots. Please contact the team (info@alphasar.org) if you are interested in a NASAR Certification, but not the entire seminar. Please visit our registration page to register and pay. All registration is first come, first served.

Visit our Smugmug Page to see pictures of our past seminars!


**Instructor list is tentative.**

Instructors (click for bio):

  • Opal Kocher - Trailing Instructor

    Opal Kocher - INBTI President


    • Associates degree, Electronic Communications Technology – Community College of the Air Force


    • Electronic Signals Analyst• Instructed in 3 foreign countries (Italy, Germany, England)

    • Instructed in 8 US states (VA, NY, NJ, KS, MD, TX, GA, WI)

    • Instructed Law Enforcement handlers from Italy, Germany, England, New York, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Wyoming, Pennsylvania


    • 2016 – Present: INBTI President

    • 2009-Present: INBTI Instructor

    • 2014 – 2016: INBTI Vice President

    • 2003 – Present: United States Air Force


    • 2 – Joint Service Commendation Medal

    • 2 – Joint Service Achievement Medal

    • 2 – Air Force Achievement Medal

    Instructor Bio/testimonial:

    I have had the unique opportunity to work mantrailing K9s using The Kocher Method since I was 7 years old.  As an Instructor myself, I have seen the success of students of mine who have grown in their knowledge and ability to become INBTI assistant instructors.  Who have become so dedicated to TKM they want to share their knowledge to help others and eventually are promoted to Instructors. Most importantly though, students who have gotten dispatched to a search and have both contributed successfully to the search for information and also have had lifesaving finds. I believe that in all of this the Glory goes to God because it is His plan.  The success goes to the handler for putting in the countless hours.  And as an INBTI instructor I have just a tiny piece of it all.

  • Kevin Pirtle - Trailing Instructor

    Kevin PirtleKevin is a firefighter/paramedic at DFW International Airport. He is an Instructor for INBTI and a Trainer for American Mantrailing Police Work Dog Association.  Kevin is a member of MARK9 Search and Rescue in Dallas, Texas where he is a trailing trainer and canine handler.

    He has instructed mantrailing seminars in Oklahoma, Indiana, and Texas. He has upcoming seminars in Minnesota (Oct. 2017) and Spain (Oct 2018).

    He has Technical training from:

    • AMPWDA Mantrailing Level III Certification
    • Hazardous Materials Operations
    • Avation Rescue/ Firefighting
    Kevin has 3 bloodhounds that are certified mantrailers through American Mantrailing, Police Work Dog Association. He has worked cases with city and county law enforcement organizations.

    “Keep it simple, work the components, always concentrating on the intensity and a solid foundation! A strong foundation is the most important part of your training.” – Kevin

  • Steve Stewart - Trailing Instructor

    Bio Coming soon

  • Brianna Acevedo- Area Search Instructor

    Brianna Acevedo

    Brianna Acevedo graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor degree in Animal Science. She currently works full time for Global Training Academy (GTA), an internationally recognized training facility providing dogs to law enforcement, military, and fulfilling overseas contracts. She is an instructor/trainer for GTA and produces dogs fully trained in narcotics detection, explosive detection, tracking, and patrol work. Brianna also handles both narcotics and explosive detection dogs for contract searches for schools, prisons, stadiums, and other facilities. Prior to working at GTA she worked for K10 Working Dogs and specialized in the raising and training of puppies to be sold as working dog candidates to military and law enforcement. Brianna is a canine handler federally for Texas Task Force 1 and locally for TEXSAR (Texas Search and Rescue). She currently has a male belgian malinois (Kovu) who is certified with FEMA’s Type 1 USAR Certification Evaluation-Live Find and also certified through NASAR’s Canine SARTECHII Area Search (60-80 acres). She also has a female border collie (Snitch) who is certified through NASAR’s Canine SARTECHII Area Search (60-80 acres) and also certified through GTA and PacesetterK9 for narcotics detection. 

  • Robin Gruebel- Area Search Instructor

    Robin Habeger Greubel has been involved in canine search and rescue since 2001, starting in wilderness and human remains detection and expanded into disaster work. She trains and deploys with Nebraska Task Force 1 and Iowa Task Force 1 and is a FEMA instructor and evaluator for both live and HRD. Robin is also a certifying official with several national organizations, a certified search manager and a search management instructor. She’s certified multiple dogs in area search, wilderness HRD, disaster and disaster HRD. Robin responds to requests by various law enforcement agencies in and around the state of Iowa to aid in search management and with her canines to resolve cases. By focusing on training the trainer/handler, students gain an understanding of the behaviors they are trying to achieve. Robin’s focus will always remain on meeting the dog at its level and training the trainer/handler to use behavior technology to get results faster and more reliably.

  • Jennifer Failla- Assistant Area Search Instructor

    Jennifer Failla is Vice Chair and lifetime member of Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR). She has diligently worked to increase her skill set and experience with well over 50 deployments and holds multiple ICS certificates. Because of TEXSAR, she has continued to complete her training in GSAR 1, FAST 1, and is a PADI Dive Master. In 2017, Jennifer completed Wilderness First Aid, Rescue Boat Operator and Public Safety Diving Courses.

    Squanto, her canine, was accepted on the team in March of 2017, and Jennifer anticipates taking the NASAR Area Wilderness Search exam in the spring of 2018.

    In her professional life, Jennifer is a Divorce Financial Analyst and Planner and holds numerous professional designations as well as a master’s degree in her field. She manages a successful business practice helping families work through the challenges of finance, marital mediation, and divorce.

  • Kimberly Kelly- HRD Instructor

    Kimberly KellyInternational rescue/response/recovery specialist: Kimberly has lectured, trained, consulted, deployed, or coordinated search missions in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Japan, Namibia, Israel, Nepal, and more.

    • NASDN Instructor and Evaluator for both HRD and Area.
    • Founder and Executive Director of Project Far From home.
      • Project Far From Home is a national educational group, designed to teach law enforcement, fire, EMS, and search and rescue teams to better understand, and manage, the search for missing at risk Alzheimer’s and related dementia subjects.
    • NASAR Director and Treasurer
    • Director of 1st Special Response Group

    1SRG: 1st Special Response Group is a non-profit international NGO search and rescue team, specializing in challenging and extreme conditions. We also provide support and training to local rescuers so as to enable their own resources during disasters without external support.

  • Tammy Robertson- Lead Evaluator HRD

    Tammy Robertson

    Tammy started training dogs 20 years ago, certifying and working with Therapy Dogs International. In 2011, Tammy & K9 Calie passed to became part of TDI’s Disaster Stress Response team and have
    been deployed to work in this capacity to natural disasters in multiple locations. She has also trained Calie in the hunting/retrieving world, achieving titles in both AKC & HRC/UKC.
    Tammy’s involvement with Search and Rescue began in 2012, receiving her Sartech II. She’s a member of Pottawatomie County Emergency Management SAR Team in Oklahoma and serves as
    their K9 Team Leader. She’s also a founding member of K9SearchOK and a member of Texsar.
    Tammy is certified through NASAR as a Funsar Instructor, Sartech II Lead Evaluator, K9 HRD Type II, III & Other Lead Evaluator, and K9 Sartech II & III Area Live Find Lead Evaluator. K9 partner Calie is certified in both SARTECH II Area and HRD III.

    “My strong desire for SAR is to keep us all well trained and
    accountable to ourselves & future victims”

  • Janet Yatchak- Evaluator HRD

    Janet with Ellie. Ellie is Janet’s first SAR canine.

    Janet Yatchak started training canines for the show ring and obedience competitions in the early 1970s, and then had the opportunity to transfer that love to SAR canines in the late 1990s. She has trained, handled and certified 5 canines (3 different breeds) to multiple national SAR and LE certifications, and is starting her 6th.

    Janet has been a member of NASAR (National Association of Search and Rescue) since 1998, the SAR Canine Section Chair 2005-2007, NASAR Conference SAR Canine Track Lead 2008, 2009 and 2010, and a SAR Canine Committee member from 2005 – 2011. Janet has been a Canine Lead Evaluator for NASAR (Area, Trailing, HRD-Land, HRD-Water, Disaster, Disaster-HRD and Avalanche) since 2004, and has conducted canine tests in 19 different states, including Alaska and Hawaii. She is also a NASAR SARTECH II Lead Evaluator and has conducted tests in many of the same states she conducted the canine tests. Janet has certified 4 different canines to NASAR certifications and was recently awarded the NASAR Evaluator/Instructor of the Year for 2016.

    In 2007, Janet became a member of the SWGDOG (Scientific Working Group on Dog & Orthogonal detector Guidelines) international committee, where she worked on the avalanche, trailing, disaster and HRD sub-committee guidelines.

    Prior to moving to Idaho in November 2015, Janet was a member of Northwest Montana Incident Management Team (All Hazards Type III), Flathead County Critical Stress Team, Blankenship Fire, and is still a member of the international response team, 1-Special Response Group.
    On the law enforcement side, Janet has certified to both IPWDA and NAPWDA certifications.
    In the special awards and recognitions area, Janet was awarded the Flathead County Sheriff’s Commendation Award, November 2004, for her work in developing and promoting ‘Powder Hounds’, an educational snow preventive search and rescue program for kids and canines, that was held at Big Mountain Ski area, Whitefish, MT. She worked with thousands of kids and parents over the few years it was offered.
    In October 2007, Janet and canine Panzer were awarded Flathead County’s Life Saving Award for their part in the search, find, and rescuing of a missing woman, in early spring 2007. And in May 2008, Panzer was awarded NASARS’s SAR Canine of the Year, for his search and find of the missing woman.
    Janet has provided canine SAR mission support to seven different states, including Kauai’ Hawaii.
    Janet is a member Southeastern Idaho Public Health Medical Reserve Corp as well as the Snake River Search team in Idaho Falls. She is currently working 2 canines:
    *Neo (GSD), her current operational canine, certified with NASAR in Trailing Type IV, HRD Land Type III, Disaster HR Forensics Type I, and HRD Water Type I.
    *Wizard (BC), training for HR, Disaster and Trailing
    *Keela (GSD), retired, was certified with NASAR, IPWDA, and NAPWDA .

2014 Alpha SAR Fall Canine Seminar Goodie Bag

Seminar Goodie Bags and Auction:

Alpha Search and Recovery is known for having some of the best goodie bags and auction items of any SAR Seminar and this year’s seminar will be no exception. Last year’s goodie bags were valued at over $250 and the auction had over $10,000 worth of canine gear, search and rescue pack items, survival gear, and more! The picture on the right is a representation of the gear we had in our goodie bags from 2014. The bags included lots of dog treats, leashes, a SOG knife, wool socks, water bottles, cleaning products, and much more! As we get our sponsors for this year’s goodie bags we will post their information and links.

Click here to view the 2017 Sponsors!

Click here to see 2016’s sponsors.

Canine Seminar Accommodations:

Accommodations and food will be provided by YMCA Camp Cullen in Trinity, TX. The seminar will take place on a beautiful facility with over 500 acres available to us. The cabins at this facility are new and recently rebuilt. There are options when you register to include lodging and/or food. Please select the options that best fit you. As there may be locals who will be attending, we wanted to offer a separate option for just food and no lodging.

Please note that the parking area is not next to the cabins.  All dogs will need to be crated inside the cabins at all times.

Camp Map


Seminar Tentative Schedule as of Aug. 9th (Click for Info):

  • Thursday, November 9th

    Check-in for Certifications: Morning

    Check-in for Seminar: Afternoon/ Evening

    NASAR HRD  Certifications: All Day

  • Friday, November 10th

    Check-In: Morning

    HRD: Training – All Day

    Area Search / Air Scent: Training – All Day

    Trailing: Traning – All Day

    Classroom Session: Alzheimer’s and the Searcher – Evening

  • Saturday, November 11th

    Seminar Photo Op: Morning

    HRD: Training  – All Day

    Area Search / Air Scent: Training – All Day

    Trailing: Traning – All Day

    Seminar Auction: Evening

  • Sunday, November 12th

    Trailing: Training – Until the Afternoon

    HRD: Training – Until the Afternoon

    Area Search / Air Scent: Until the Afternoon

Certification Opportunities:

National Association for Search and Rescue

National Association for Search and RescueNASAR Certifications will be offered during the seminar. Please be sure to check your disciplines’ prerequisites on the NASAR Certifications page before registering for the certification opportunity. The written test (for those needing it) will be Thursday, and all certification will take place on Thursday and Friday. The schedule may change once we know the interest for NASAR Certification.

Canine Seminar Costs:

Seminar costs are outlined in the table below. There are registration options for almost any combination, so you may choose to stay and/or eat at home or a hotel if you do not wish to stay at camp. There are options for an additional dog, observer only, and the variety of certifications that will be offered.

          Seminar Registration Handler:
         General Total:

Add-ons / Options:
         Seminar Registration Observer Only:
         Additional Canine:
         NASAR Evaluation fee (Member):
         NASAR Evaluation fee (Non-Member):

To register visit our shop and “purchase” a registration based on the discipline you would like to participate in or choose observer if you are not participating with a dog: http://www.alphasar.org/shop/

Will be posted soon.


Cancellation Policy:

100% refund for cancellation before October 1.

50% refund for cancellation before October 15.

No refund after.