WITH targeted training dogs can learn to exclude all the myriad of scents in their environment and focus on just one.
They literally do smell dead people through scent training with cadaver scent.
Drift, a Weimaraner is a Track and Search Dog with Search Dogs Australia trained to find lost and or dead people from virtually any environment between land and sea.
What is remarkable is that Drift can detect this scent coming from underwater and pinpoint its location.
It means efficient search and rescue operations for police divers, resulting in a quick recovery of people and bodies.
Drift’s owner, Rockingham woman Bev Auld, said Drift has been tracking since she was 12 weeks old.
“She is the third dog I have trained, my previous dogs were both Weimaraners Casper and Chloe,” she said.
“They are the type of dog you have to do something with, you can’t just leave them in the backyard; they are just too energetic.
“They just love training; they really do.”
The breed is originally from Germany where they were bred to track and hunt bears.
“She gets walked twice a day at 4am and then at 5pm for 45 minutes at a time,” she said.
Mrs Auld said Drift was well suited to her role and had proved her worth.
“She is only the second dog in WA to achieve the highest rank as a Track and Search Grand Champion and the first Weimarana to do it,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter how old a track is she can still pick up the scent.
“She has picked up six day old tracks, even after it has been raining.
“I have her go past the school and even after lots of kids have been past a few days later she can still track the scent.”
For Ms Auld being part of Search Dogs Australia has become a family affair.
“My daughter-in-law Jodie trains Drift too and the grandkids love it, they hide the cadaver everywhere in the backyard, including on the clothesline – you know the dog has to be able to get into all places in a real rescue operation,” she said.
“Drift finds it every time.”
The cadaver training tool is a black rubber tube with human teeth in it.
“The human body gives off a different scent when it dies and this is what the dogs can smell. We can smell it too but they can really smell it and from quite a distance,” she said.
Search Dogs Australia Manager Lesley Watson said they have dogs training and working in the Goldfields, Great Southern areas and Perth.
“Our dogs are trained to track on land, cover large areas searching off lead in rural areas and are trained in locating drowned victims as well as doing cadaver training,” she said.
“We are a volunteer group who fundraise to enable us to provide our services to the police completely free of expense on their part.
“We have Bloodhounds, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Weimaraners as well as several cross breeds.
“We are part of the West Australian Police Force Combat Agency and assist them in searching for lost and missing persons.
“We also are part of Emergency Management Australia.
“Bev and her Weimaraner Drift have been working within our group and have successfully passed their Operational Assessment test.
“Bev spends hours training Drift and can often been seen around the shopping areas and parklands working with Drift.”
Mrs Auld said the group are hoping to involve local businesses to help them with training their dogs.
For more information like their Facebook page at Search Dogs Australia.