This study examines the qualitative experiences of dogs and handlers working on canine search and rescue teams as they strive to develop a successful relationship through working, training, and living together. In order to work effectively, these teams form affective partnerships characterized by mutual advocacy, correspondence, and trust, which highlight the co-constructed nature of more than human worlds and allow members of both species to contest certain framings of their partners in their social worlds. Each chapter will further explore how handlers grapple with contemporary controversies in their field which are often framed as questions of effectiveness and personal choice in regards to the development of a successful dog-handler relationship, but that I will argue are as contentious as they are partly because they are animated by strong affective multispecies bonds and are, at their core, debates about deeper questions and shifting attitudes regarding the responsibilities of humans to their non-human partners and to the global (multispecies) community as a whole. As experts working on the front lines of multispecies cooperation in the face of climate crises, the experiences and insights of canine search and rescue teams suggest implications for public policy and as it pertains to more-than-human engagement with the rest of our shared planet.

Degree Date

Spring 5-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name





Nicolas Sternsdorff-Cisterna

Second Advisor

Caroline Brettell

Third Advisor

Nia Parson

Fourth Advisor

Sabine Frühstück

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.