There’s one thing I’ve learned while doing the research for my book, Soldier Dogs, which comes out next week (Wow, next week! I am very excited! Please check out my website or Facebook page to learn more.):
Little escapes the nose of a well-trained law-enforcement dog. No high-tech machinery can take its place.
Such was the case Sunday evening with a German Shepherd named Brix, a Jackson County (Mich.) Sheriff’s Department K9. Brix was assisting his handler, who was pursuing an alleged drunk driver who’d had an accident and fled the scene.
It was a difficult place for tracking, especially because it was a swampy area. But it probably didn’t hurt that the driver was barefoot. Try as we may to be all clean and fresh, we humans smell very potent to our canine friends. Here’s how Alexandra Horowitz puts it in her excellent book, Inside of a Dog.
“Humans stink. The human armpit is one of the most profound sources of odor produced by any animal; our breath is a confusing melody of smells; our genitals reek. The organ that covers our body â€” our skin â€” is itself covered in sweat and sebaceous glands, which are regularly churning out fluid and oils holding our particular brand of scent. When we touch objects, we leave a bit of ourselves on them; a slough of skin, with its clutch of bacteria steadily munching and excreting away. This is our smell, our signature odor.”
As you have surely figured out by now, the dog found his man. His smelly man. His rapturously odiferous man with bare feet. And as if that weren’t reward enough, Brix probably also got loads of praise from his handler, and maybe even a ball to chonk on for a minute.
Dogs are so cool, aren’t they?