Not long ago Holly the Bloodhound was on death row.
Because of her destructive behavior, she had become doggie non grata in six different homes before her first birthday. She ended up in a shelter with little hope of finding a place as a family pet.
Today the 85-pound Bloodhound is “one of the best and brightest detectives on the Massachusetts State Police Force.”
Holly seemed to be telling the world that she was meant to be a gainfully employed tracker police dog, not a house pet. Fortunately professional trainer, Larry Allen, recognized something in Holly that he was looking for.
Allen believes that training is a small part of what makes a good tracking Bloodhound. Because of his 25 years of experience, he sensed that the troubled puppy was an animal with phenomenal natural abilities.
Where the olfactory center of a human is about the size of a postage stamp, for Holly it is the size of a handkerchief.
Often called a nose with a dog attached, the bloodhound is so adept at scent tracking its trailing results is admissible evidence in a court of law. Its outstanding ability to read terrain with its nose is primarily due to a large, ultrasensitive set of scent membranes that allows the dog to distinguish smells at least a thousand times better than humans. source
Besides tracking bad guys, Bloodhounds are used extensively to track missing children and adults with dementia who wander away from home. Some law enforcement departments offer a “scent package” service to families where a member suffers from Alzheimer’s. A package with articles containing the scent of only that person is kept in a sealed bag ready in case.
The Bloodhound is not just another pretty face. Everything about the dog's appearance adds to their tracking ability. Loose wrinkled skin on their faces helps trap scent particles. The mucous from the constant drooling (that some pet owners find offensive) traps the scent.
On the trail the long drooping ears drag on the ground, sweeping the scent into the nasal area. The long neck, muscular shoulders, and strong back allow them to track close to the ground for miles.
Once they identify the subject’s scent, they are not distracted by the millions of other odors. Now it is a game. And the best Bloodhounds have a strong play drive. Bloodhounds have been known to stay on a trail for more than 130 miles.
In spite of high tech surveillance equipment available today, many in law enforcement believe that the dogs are a greater asset than the best equipment. Some dogs have picked up cold trails and followed tracks over 300 hours old.
Does the Bloodhound make a good family pet? You might want to check out Sue Ruff’s warning at the American Bloodhound Club website before you go shopping.