Hunter & Robin had been missing 9 weeks when K9 CADE was called in to find them. There were no leads, no sightings... nothing except a nine week old trail.
This story exemplifies how a trained scent dog can and will be able to follow a viable scent trail after an extended period of time... and from a great distance.
This is a true and accurate story that was witnessed and verified by law enforcement.
My pet has been missing a long time.
from Private Investigator Karin TarQwyn:
How long does a scent trail last is one
of the most commonly asked questions in this field.
It is also one of the most controversial.
There is in fact only one answer as any professional who
has trained more than a hundred scent dogs can tell you:
The ability to detect and follow a scent trail is different from dog to dog and environment to environment. This is a fact and is the only correct answer.
There are many theories and purported expert opinions. I have found that after 22 years working with and training scent specific dogs that the ability to detect and follow scent is different for each individual dog. Two of my dogs have successfully followed the scent of a subject missing 10 months after the subject walked through the area. (This was verified by a witness and the FBI). By comparison, I know of a dog on the east coast that cannot follow a trail if it is older than 24 hours.
The ability to follow a trail for many novice dogs will be a month or less. One former handler and author claims that scent is not viable after 14 days and I believe this was very true for her when she actually handled dogs back in the 1990s. Quite simply, inexperienced and novice handlers should not work a trail or case where the dog has been missing two days or more.
This skill must be trained and practiced by expert K9 handlers who work with scent specific dogs on a daily basis. Theory and guess-stimates work in some pursuits but not when it comes to a missing family member... we must be able to trust the K9 pros that will help to find her.
NOTE: We regularly train on trails that are aged three and four months, however my personal preference is to get to a trail within 8 weeks or earlier. There is never a guarantee that the dog team will be able to decipher and follow any trail but in ten years and hundreds of cases, they have been unable to find a viable trail... only once. They are incredible dogs who are selected and trained for this aspect of their work.