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Publisher’s Message: Buzz and Aidan Sniff on the Road

Chelsea Police Officer Tom Gilbreath points to where Aidan found a scent hidden inside the hubcap of a police vehicle.

(Publisher’s note: For something happy and fun … this is the first of a few columns about Buzz and Aidan’s sniffing adventures. )

Before my retina detached in April, and after private lessons, and a couple months of hiding little containers with different scents in them throughout my house, I took Buzz and Aidan’s novice sniffing skills on a road trip.

My friend, Nancy Jennings and I loaded up Buzz and Aidan and her Toller, Gopher and took them to two different locations in March.

Our first stop – the Chelsea Area Fire Authority’s Station No. 1 on Middle Street where Fire Capt. Scott Basar assisted us by hiding the scent containers both inside the fire bays and outside around the fire apparatus.

Buzz found all the different smells in the fire station quite overwhelming and deviated from his usual methodical sniffing. So, after several sweeps of the interior, I asked for help from Capt. Basar to direct us to the correct quadrant of the building to search for the hidden scents. They were hidden inside fire hoses, in a drain grate, under items on a wall, in the pocket of turnout gear. Even between two boots.

Buzz waits for a treat after making a scent find inside the Chelsea Fire Station.

For Aidan and Gopher, the environment was very stimulating, and it took them a bit to settle in, but once they did, they went right to work, and were on point sniffing out the four different scents — birch, anise, clove and

Outside, despite swirling winds, all three dogs quickly found the hidden containers that were hidden on or under the fire apparatus.

A good start.

From the fire station, we headed to the Chelsea Police Department where we were assisted by Officer Tom Galbreath.

For the most part, these three travel all over together and are generally pretty quiet in their crates. But, we quickly learned that these enthusiastic sniffers have figured out when one of them is out sniffing and the other two are left behind. Let’s just say they became quiet vocal waiting for their turn. Especially when we moved from inside to outside.

After the myriad of unusual odors in the fire station, the police station seemed to be an easier environment for all three dogs. They almost dragged us to the spots where Office Galbreath had hidden the scents. They started in the attached garage and then headed downstairs through a maze of hallways and multiple rooms in the basement of the station.

Don’t tell Buzz, but Aidan was quite the little sniffing dynamo inside.

Gopher makes a find outside the police station.

Outside, however, the swirling winds sent Aidan on a scent chase, out into a grassy area with pine cones 10-15 feet from the source of the scent. But, with a little assistance, he worked to the source, which was inside the hubcap of a police cruiser.

Both Buzz and Gopher had a much easier time. It all depended on the direction and intensity of the winds.

It was quite interesting to watch their different styles of sniffing and the approaches they took to finding the sources of the scents.

All in all, it was a great first training session “in the wild”, the first of two that led up to our first two official sniffing shows. I’m not sure who was more tired when we were done, though — the humans or the dogs.

All of us came home and took a nap.

(Upcoming, our second “field” training session — first to the police station followed by the fire station. Below a photo from our first foray at a sniffing trial. )

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