About Us


SPEK-9 is a company which has been set up by Neil Powell and John Sjoberg, in response to many demands from the dog training world. Its purpose is primarily to impart the knowledge and skills which John and Neil have developed over their respective, 20 - 30 years of training search dogs.

In the late 1980s, John was a member of the Swedish Special Forces with particular responsibility for finding a method of training dogs to detect enemy underwater swimmers and hidden equipment under the water surface. Following this mission, he went on to develop a method for detecting drowned victims and has been used extensively by authorities in Sweden, Norway and N. Ireland, for whom he has located many bodies in water. With his dog Zampo, he has also worked with Police and Forensic teams, to help locate evidence in murder trials. He even managed to locate 15 graves, which are almost 2000 years old, for an archaeological study by a Swedish University.

In June 2008, John and Neil launched SPEK-9 when they ran the first ever Drowned Victim Search Dog course for dog handlers from the National Search And Rescue Dog Association of the UK and Ireland. This was seen by all as a landmark achievement because the location of drowned victims has always been the most difficult of the search dog disciplines. Drowned Victim Search Dog handlers throughout the UK and Ireland, will now begin training to reach the Standards and Assessment requirement set by SPEK-9 and accepted by NSARDA, before they can become operational.

SPEK-9 Training Services

We are committed to providing professional, in depth training to handlers, wishing to become Drowned Victim Search Dog handlers. The course will undertake to bring a dog and handler, who have the appropriate disposition and temperament, to a level where they can successfully locate a drowned victim in one kilometre square of water, to an accuracy of a few meters. The Training and Assessment Standards used are those which have been approved by the National Search and Rescue Dog Association of the UK and Ireland, (NSARDA), 2008. Our training methods are based on the principles of Operant Conditioning and the use of appropriate and accurately timed reward so as to shape the desired behaviour of the dog.

The dog and handler will work from a small inflatable and the handler will be taught to use the dog to best advantage, with respect to wind, current and temperature. Handlers will be invited to N. Ireland, which is where the course is based, and they will undergo extensive initial training. On successful completion of each training module, they will be asked to return again after a period of home practice, for us to assess their progress and to take them to the next level. Where travel to N. Ireland is problematic, we can provide the training in a mutually agreed location, provided it has all the basic facilities required by the SPEK-9 instructors.

About John

John began training his first Military Duty dog in the mid 1980s. That was followed by almost 20 years of dog training and instructor duties in the Armed Forces and in the SARDA Department of the Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK).

John’s enthusiasm for dogs and different training methods involved him in gun dog training and in the training of sheep dogs and the training of dogs to herd cows.

His main achievements to date are:

John's Landmark Achievements

About Neil

Neil began training his first Mountain Rescue Search dog in the mid 1970s and, when they qualified in the Cairngorms two years later, he introduced the Search And Rescue Dog Association, (SARDA), to Ireland.

His main achievements to date are:

Neil's Landmark Achievements