Sunday, April 5, 2020

It's All About the Nose!

By Wally the Airedale, cadaver dog in training

All right, I admit it.  I don’t look like much.  I mean I’m not mean looking.  Or intimidating.  But hey, I’m young, and the lady I live with, Jazz Ramsey, she thinks the world of me.  She says that someday, I’m going to be the best Human Remains Detection dog in the universe!

What does that mean?  That’s easy.  One of these days, when I’m trained and I’m ready, and I’m certified, I’ll go out with Jazz and the other volunteers she works with and we’ll help the police and other local authorities search for people they think are dead.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.  There’s plenty of training involved.  Even though a lot of dogs don’t even start their HRD training until they’re 18 months old (they don’t have the attention spans before then), Jazz has already started working with me.

We train on basic obedience commands, and Jazz is teaching me to be an independent thinker, too.  After all, once we’re out in the field, I’ll have to make my own decisions.  I’ll still need to obey Jazz when she gives me a command.  I’m good with that.  But I’m also going to need to take the lead sometimes, to tell her which direction we need to go in, where we need to look.

To do that, she’s helping me learn all about the scent of decomp.

I get it.  I hear “Eeew” a lot when I say that, but think about how important it is.  A cadaver dog like me has to know how to detect the scent of human decomp in the air for when breezes blow dead cells around.  I also have to be able to sniff the ground to detect the scent.  That’s because sometimes, that’s where I’m going to find it.  This kind of stuff is way easier for dogs than it is for you humans.  Our sense of smell is way better than yours!

It’s pretty interesting stuff and Jazz says, being an Airedale, I’m plenty smart and able to learn.  She’s also mentioned (well, a time or two) that Airedales are stubborn.  I don’t know about that.  I do know that I have my own way of doing things sometimes.  But don’t worry, she’ll come around to my way of thinking.  After all, while she’s training me, I’m training her.  And you know what?  I think she’s right.  Pretty soon we’re going to be the best team of handler and cadaver dog in the universe!

Wally and Jazz will next appear in "The Secrets of Bones,"
on store and cyber shelves May 5

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