Data collected over the 15 years of the 9/11 study represents a massive amount of never before available information on the short and long-term impacts of a search & rescue deployment on the health and behavior of the search dog. The data analyzed in this project cover three areas: behavior, occupational hazards, and longevity. With the ever changing and improving methods for data collection, the research team has spent most of the time tracking, organizing, validating, and preparing the 15 years of data to be analyzed. The data for the remaining analysis is in a format in which it can be analyzed and available for cross-referencing several important questions regarding behavior, health and longevity that we have proposed.
We found that the behavioral categories of Trainability, Attention Seeking and Energy all decrease with age, independent of deployment status. This is the first longitudinal study of behavior in dogs. Only excitability scores differed by deployment status. Deployed dogs started high and gradually decreased with age, Control dogs started low, increased to a peak, and then decreased with age. No dog was retired in year 1, by year 10 all participating dogs were retired. The reported surgical conditions were most commonly associated with accidents/injuries; whereas medical problems were most commonly associated with degenerative conditions like arthritis. The musculoskeletal system, skin and gastrointestinal system were the most frequently affected whether it was a medical or surgical condition. This information can help guide preventive care for working dogs.