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Uncovering Our Dog’s Scent Tracking Ability Has Been A Blessing

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

My wife and I got a new dog about a year ago (after losing our beloved Zeus, whom my wife had before I came into the picture). I thought we found our new Golden Doodle, Huckleberry, but I’m beginning to think he found us. He really is one of life’s blessings. We had no idea how smart he was and what his nose was cable of, which we now have learned could be used to save my wife’s life.

My wife Lisa recently found Paws & People, certified dog trainers in Bozeman who offer some interesting, unique training classes. One such class really sparked our interest. We thought the ‘scentsABILITIES’ class would give Huck an added purpose, and therefore some added joy. The class explores a dog’s natural ability to track and find scented objects, using search & rescue techniques.

Huck certainly has the natural ability of scent tracking. Lisa took him to each session (as I stayed home with our daughter). After the first class she called me on her way home, voice beaming with pride. Apparently, our boy Huck was the classes’ top dog! He just took to it immediately. Huck has now completed the Level I class and has become familiar with one (salient) scent. It’s amazing to watch him in our backyard, as he identifies that scent amongst several others. Each scent is contained in a small box and each box hidden. No matter where we move that salient scent, Huck always finds it. He immediately knows when it’s time to work and it really has given him a job that he loves.

Nancy Tanner, founding owner and head trainer at Paws & People, has been working with Huckleberry and helped us find a new job for him. My wife Lisa has Type I Diabetes, a life-threatening condition associated with the fact that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin resulting in overly high blood sugar levels. To solve the problem she must take insulin, which drops her blood sugar level. Unfortunately, measuring correct dosages can be variable and unpredictable. If she over-medicates, her blood sugar level will drop too far (hypoglycemia), placing her life in jeopardy. It is absolutely vital that she recognizes this condition. That’s where Huck may come in.

Nancy informed us of recent work being done with dogs in utilizing their scent to aid diabetics. Dogs are being trained to alert to low blood sugar levels. She thought Huck would be the perfect candidate and has recommended literature to us so we can begin the training. After seeing Huck’s nose in action, we definitely agree. I think we found more than just a job for him, I think we have found Huck’s purpose.

I could get into the random circumstances that led us to Huck, whom we got from a family who could no longer care for him at the age of 4 months, but I won’t. I don’t need to attempt to validate our belief, which is this…Zeus is in there somewhere and the universe led us to him. Our golden boy is a gift sent to us from a higher place. Life is what you make it, just don’t deny the blessings in it (look around).

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