Dogs have us beat in more than just the nose department.  Their ears are also more sensitive than ours, and better yet they’re more directional.

When conditions are just not right for finding someone with scent (hot, no wind) we switch to what are called Voice Checks.DSC_0390_edited-1

The dog is placed in a sit and given the command “Listen.”  The handler then calls out the missing subject’s name at the top of their lungs and watches the dog’s head. If the subject responds the dog’s head will snap in the correct direction. Most dogs will then take off after the subject and eventually get close enough to smell them.

Sierra took this one step further. She quickly figured out what was expected, and when she heard the “Listen” command she’d hold her breath so the sound of her panting wouldn’t drown out a response.  That amazed me. How on earth would you ever teach a dog to hold its breath?

Obviously this only works if the missing subject is conscious, alert and wants to be found. If you start doing this on cadaver searches, you’re going to get some funny looks.

And not everybody wants to be found. In our next episode: Stealth Mode!

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