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you would not believe how fast these seminars fill up.

Level 1 was almost full 7 minutes out and Level 2 was half full!

Western Carolina University - Cadaver Dog Training

Wish I could afford the bone ID workshop add on but by the time you add gasoline and hotel room it all adds up big time.
 

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They are very popular - Level 1 is already full and registration opened 40 minutes ago. With Level 2 they gave priority to handlers who have already taken Level 1 then open it to handlers who are taking Level 1 the previous week. Grim and I took the first class ever offered. Beau is going in at Level 2 but that is ok (I verified-based on him being certified etc.)
 

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I have a friend that was down there not too long ago for the workshop. Said it was excellent.

We just started our HR training - using the Randy Hare method, so far so good :). Will be a while before we attend workshops.
 

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When Beau was a pup I talked with Lisa Higgins about taking him to the Level 1 and she suggested waiting and getting down everything else first. Said three days of this can be overwhelming when they are just starting and young.

He is 19 months now and certified NAPWDA in October so he is probably ready. My main challenge will be 'no good place to run him' as he is a wild child.
 

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No it is Western Carolina University's forensic osteology program and they study decomposition of human remains in an outdoor facility. My dog is trained to locate human remains but it is not easy to have access to actual full body human remains because when they are found during a search the area is secured as a possible crime scene.

They are very careful with the facility and treat the human remains in the enclosure with the utmost respect but they have a fenced in area with donated bodies in various states of decomposition. The dogs are allowed to find the enclosure themselves through the woods then are put on lead to enter the enclosure and locate one or more bodies.

It is an excellent program - a lot of classroom training as well as field work with the dogs. One challenge most civilian k9 handlers have is we have access to very small amounts of human remains and it is important to train the dogs with the whole spectrum of odor as well as complete human sources. It is true that a dog ONLY trained on a few ounces of something may miss 100lbs of the same substance because they are overwhelmed by the odor and don't know how to process it / pinpoint the source.

They do have a number of dead animals to use as distracters though. We had to work past several dead animals: black bear, some chickens, pigs, and some other dead animals to get to the fence containing the human remains.
 

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Just to clarify for those in the room not familiar with HRD. The reason exposure to a realistic amount is necessary is that the dog trained on small amounts has a threshold issue. Meaning that the dog will locate the amount of odor that he is trained to find. He will not necessarily recognize the realistic amounts as the target odor because amounts have their own scent signature. Thresholds must be low to high and everything inbetween. Various examples of different ages must be trained on as well.
 

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Congrats, Nancy! Friend with Heist from our H litter did the Level 1 last year and said it was fabulous. He was also lucky enough to get one of the elusive Level 2 spots for this year. Hope you guys have a lot of fun!
 

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No congrats needed - entry is not competitive unless you count speed of computer entry when the event opens! Looking forward to meeting your friend and your dog!

Yes, as Renee mentioned this is a very important opportunity for those of us who have limited exposure to large training sources. And to whole body sources. Even if everyone we know combined our training aids to have the same quantity as a human body, it is not "the same thing" - and seasonal variations in the decay process also impact odor and they have a lot of that.

It is a very popular event because of the unique opportunity. Folks come in from all over the country. It is neat for me that it is in Cullowhee because I got my MS degree there.
 

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Just to clarify for those in the room not familiar with HRD. The reason exposure to a realistic amount is necessary is that the dog trained on small amounts has a threshold issue. Meaning that the dog will locate the amount of odor that he is trained to find. He will not necessarily recognize the realistic amounts as the target odor because amounts have their own scent signature. Thresholds must be low to high and everything inbetween. Various examples of different ages must be trained on as well.
I was recently watching an episode of Cold Case Files. They were searching for bodies on the suspects property. They were using Cadaver dogs. As per the episode, they searched for hours when a dog finally reacted to barrels next to a building. The officer stated when he was 10' from the barrel he could smell the human remains.

I was curious as to how the dogs would have spent several hours in the area and not smell the same smell the officer could 10' away. Could it be the dogs weren't (this case was around 2002) used to the realistic amount of the target odor? There ended up being two barrels next to each other with bodies in them (decomp 6 months to 1.5 years).
 

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Did not see the episode - scent does strange things especially close to buildings. Sometimes it goes straight up if it is clear and sunny, sometimes it permeates the area. Could be his nose was at the right height and the dog's was not. So many factors. Could even be the limitations of the handler and the dogs who were used.

If a dog had not been used to a realistic amount of odor what I would expect to see is either a general "I'm in odor but can't pinpoint the source of the odor" body language or a dog indicating at the threshold distance. I would not expect to see "nothing".

I have not had too many issues with dogs alerting away from source, even training with small amounts but my dogs have been pretty insistent working all the way TO source. I have seen some frantic behavior and difficulty in working out a very large scent pool, though. We had a terrible time on a water search several years ago where it was summer and the victim surfaced within an hour of our search (which means there was definitely a lot of odor). All I could say is "out here" in a general area because the dog went bonkers. Fortunately the night before another team dog *had* pinpointed perfectly with a slight breeze at her back while I had that morning fumigating still fog over the water...and I just went out before the divers came in for the day.

Training on old graves (pre civil war) has helped me see the dog have to methodically work on a larger scent pool {you would not believe how much of a scent pool can be associated with a 150 year old grave!}
 
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