These Bloodhounds Will Track You Down

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Alert a trained bloodhound to a person’s scent – on a doorknob, a child seat, a piece of clothing, a cigarette – and with an olfactory system at least 40 times more sensitive than a human’s, they will find your trail. Bloodhound trainers, breeders, students, and certified trackers met at Lady Bird Johnson City Park in Fredericksburg on a cold and wet Sunday to work with these amazing dogs.

Look at that nose!

Bama, a Poitevan  bloodhound

Photo: Robert C Deming

This is Bama, a French Poitevin hound, owned by Nancy Boerner of Sisterdale.  In addition to this handsome hound and the traditional bloodhound, handlers worked with a Weimaraner and a French Porcelain hound. Bloodhounds are believed to be descended from hounds once kept at the Abbey of Saint-Hubert in Belgium around the year 1000 CE.  Over the centuries, the bloodhound has gained the reputation of the premier trailing dog.

Woodrow is ready to track. 

Woodrow Ready to Track

Photo: Robert C Deming

Fredericksburg resident Karen Carr working with her dog Woodrow. He has followed the trail of scent of a subject from a cigarette butt to this point by Live Oak Creek. How can he separate the pungent smell of the cigarette from subject and fellow bloodhound owner Lisa Tomlinson from San Angelo?

Did the subject go into the creek?

Woodrow in Live Oak Creek

Photo: Robert C Deming

Cold water doesn’t deter Woodrow from finding his subject. Why are bloodhounds so diligent? According to Lyle Selzer from Arlington, the dogs do it for the party at the end – a treat, a favorite toy.  The treat? For most of these dogs, a piece of boiled hog liver and praise from their human. Why do people spend so much time and effort being prepared to find a subject?  He says they are unpaid professional first responders wanting to be helpful, and they clearly love their bloodhounds. Their motto is “That Others May Live.

Chris Drury and K-9 Charlie (Search One) are on the scent.

Bloodhound Tracking

Photo: Robert C Deming

Trailing Instructor for International Bloodhound Training Institute Kevin Pirtle from Weatherford says that there are three distinct categories of training – on lead single scent discrimination; Air Scent dogs work off lead to find human scent over large areas; and Human Remains dogs which work off lead to find human remains, both buried and above ground. The dogs in this training session are working on following a trail left by a person. Once the dog has your scent, they can follow your trail by scent alone, even several days after you have walked it. Sheriff and police departments call these volunteers to assist in searches for missing persons. The dogs are huge but gentle with people, and they love the touch of their human.

Bloodhounds are known worldwide as gentle giants

Bloodhound at the REady

Photo: Robert C Deming

These enthusiasts belong to teams throughout the state and get together periodically for training exercises. The prison system also keeps bloodhounds, and last summer dogs from the Hughes Unit of the TDCJ successfully tracked a man who was considered suicidal on Fort Hood property. Other subjects rescued are lost children, people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or hunters who are lost in the woods.  Teams that attended were:  Alamo Area Search and Rescue, MARK9, Search One (Dallas), and Boerner Bloodhounds (Sisterdale). In addition to training with their teams, they get together for specialized trailing seminars.