Handler Memorials

  • Rita Comden

    Rita and her husband Dave started out in the search world by joining Wilderness Finders (WOOF) in 1980/81. Dave dropped out after a year to run the family business. Rita continued in WOOF and then joined CARDA in 1984. She was a skilled handler and dedicated searcher, one who always made time to advise novice handlers on improving their skills. Rita was convinced that handlers needed more training than the dog and was fascinated with dogs scenting ability.

    Rita’s first K-9 was Ego, a large golden retriever, who was a hard working certified wilderness search dog. Ego was trained and certified for water, cadaver, and evidence search. Rita’s next project was to train Mason, a german shepherd, who suffered from a skin disease and had a short career. Her next dog was Radar, a special guy. A rather small golden retriever with a big heart and a love for search work. Radar is retired and lives with husband Dave and his new family on 30 acres in the South Oregon.

    There is pride that son Dan is actively involved in search and rescue work. Daughter Cathy joined CARDA and trained her GSD until she moved out of state. Cathy is still involved in dogs as a professional trainer. So a little bit of Rita’s joy in dogs is carried on by her children.

  • Rosemary Redditt

    Rosemary learned her skills as a wilderness searcher through the San Diego County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Bureau where she served for 38 years.  For many of those years Rosemary served as lieutenant for the canine unit.  She joined CARDA in 1989 and remained a CARDA member for 17 years.  During those 17 years she, together with her dogs, responded to nearly 100 searches.

    Rosemary had a great love for Doberman’s.  Her dogs, Katie, a red female and Berry, a red male, were well known throughout the SAR community.  They deployed on wilderness searches, cadaver searches, and water searches.  Berry and Rosemary also volunteered countless hours visiting hospice patients.

    As a retired teacher, Rosemary was generous in sharing her knowledge with less experienced handlers. She traveled extensively through state participating in searches and training and testing new handlers.

    Rosemary will always be remembered for the good she did in the world and for inspiring others to do the same.

  • Wes Coleman

    Wes was one of those hard-working guys that put 100 percent into everything he did. When it came to CARDA, he gave it 110 percent. Wes had a firm belief in CARDA and everything for which it stood. He was a mentor to many teams in CARDA,  those that were his apprentices and those that were not.

    When things got crazy, Wes had a way of keeping everyone calm and making everything right. If he didn’t have an answer, he would find one.  He was a man of few words; one of his favorite sayings was ‘less talk more eat, now let’s go to lunch.’

    When it came to training, nothing was off the table. Wes provided training experiences that would stay with you a lifetime, foundational concepts you could review when faced with a roadblock. He would get particularly excited when the weather was terrible. Sleet, rain, high force winds or snow, nothing would stop him from training. He was a stand-up guy who always had your back. He was encouraging, honest and was there when you needed him.  CARDA will never be the same without him.

    Following his death his working dog Maggie passed away; she couldn’t live without her handler.