“Sometimes thinking outside the box means thinking about what’s inside the box”
written by Nate Harves and Lorna thomas
Nate working K9 Paco on lockers
I would love to go into the science behind what David does but I have no doubt I would butcher or do a disservice to his years of work and knowledge. After all, his Cliff-note version dummied down to street cops was still two hours of lecture, PowerPoint, graphs, charts, and handouts. But I have to attempt to touch upon what he did as I understood it. David explained how he identified qualities within a full odor spectrum of narcotics. Through research and clinical science he came to believe the olfactory system to basically be a heat receptor. When it identifies a heat signature pattern on this nano-scale the nose believes it is the item. It believes it completely.
K9 Paco showing that perfect stare behavior!
Avon K9 Tom Owens works the lockers with his K9
Authors Nate Harves with K9 Paco and Lorna Thomas with K9 Nova von den Sportwaffen
Not only do the Scentlogix Detection Aids offer the pure narcotic odor, they offer what seems to the dog to be a large volume of the pure narcotic. I recall David telling me the cocaine for example was the scent spectrum of somewhere around five hundred pounds of cocaine. The dog is able to identify the scent signature as a bulk source and then use their ability to detect parts-per-million scent and reliably alert to small weight narcotic as well. In conventional training this is done the exact opposite. We have all seen dogs that are reliable on small weight narcotic walk large bulk weight narcotic or go into a sensory overload at the source. Additionally, David took the science at his fingertips and did some amazing things that are almost impossible to replicate using live narcotic. For example, he did work with the marijuana so the dogs have the ability to identify multiple strains and specimens of marijuana in the imprint aid. Marijuana is not just a plant found in the woods anymore. There has been more genetic splicing and work done on marijuana than on some world-feeding crops. Some strains offer heightened THC, are drought resistant, produce more bud, germinate quicker, etc. What strain is your training marijuana? How differently does it odor than the strain that was grown off seeds out of High Times magazine and moving through your jurisdiction? I’m not sure to be honest. But I think these are the questions we as a scent detection industry should be asking ourselves in our training models.
So in my field study of the Scentlogix Detection Aids I wanted to do a double blind study to be sure. I liked the thinking behind the theory and the science, and although hopeful for them as a viable training aid, I was still doubtful to some extent until I got hands on them and saw with my own eyes what they could add to my training. To accomplish this I wanted to see that my working street police K9, Paco, who was trained solely on live narcotics and has reliably alerted to multiple finds on the street, would on first contact exposure alert individually to the following odors: marijuana, heroin, ecstacy, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Adversely, I wanted to train a dog exclusively on the Scentlogix Detection Aids, and then certify the dog on first contact exposure to live narcotics. I had to see that truly, to the dog, they were in fact one and the same, both coming and going.
Laila Belle von den Sportwaffen
For the second half of the study I would now need to train a green dog with no previous exposure to narcotics. Further, I wanted a dog that had never been exposed to any scent detection training whatsoever, a clean slate to work with. Everything they would know would be what I had taught them. For this dog I used a breeding female from my kennel handled by my training partner, Lorna Thomas. The female selected was already known to me for her ball drive, hunt drive, scent ability, and focus. She had no environmental issues or nerve deficiencies of any kind. This was important to me because I wanted to be absolutely positive I had a viable detection dog candidate that I was certain could be trained on live narcotics just like the others I have trained. I did not want to risk having a dog wash out of the Scentlogix Detection Aid training, and then have any doubt later should the next dog pass if it was a training aid problem that caused the wash out or if it was a dog selection problem. Feeling confident the dog was a very viable and competent candidate for detection training, I then looked to the handler. I wanted Lorna to handle the dog under my direction for a few reasons. She had never trained a detection dog and would bring in no hidden tricks or pre-conceptions. She also was not a police officer and had zero ability to use narcotics in her training outside my presence. She only had access to the Scentlogix Detection Aids and she only trained in my presence and under my supervision. Lastly, the dog was not going to be used as a police k9 so if the dog washed out at the fault of the Scentlogix Detection Aids we had not caused a problem in a working street police k9, and therefore, Lorna had no incentive to make the dog pass or fail unfairly. The training would be done exactly the same as I would imprint and foundation live narcotic detection and the dog would either succeed or point to a fault in the aids used. The green dog used, Laila, consistently and immediately alerted to Scentlogix Detection Aids odor with a very solid indication of source odor in training environments and was trained not to offer false alerts. The Scentlogix Detection Aids were hidden in an area that had never been used for narcotic detection, in locations unknown to the handler so no chance of subconsciously leading the dog could occur. Without fail, Laila exhibited strong behavior change when coming into odor and after locating source odor offered her final alert behavior. For her final certification, Laila was tested on first contact exposure to live odor narcotics. This was done at a location where no Scentlogix Detection Aids had ever been present. None were present or handled in any way on the certification day to eliminate any chance of residual odor contaminating the test location off environment, clothing, or human contact to the certification test. Without fail, Laila exhibited strong behavior change when coming into live narcotics odor and after locating source odor offered her final alert behavior. Her behavior change and alert behavior were consistent with previous behavior and alert response in training with the Scentlogix Detection Aids. The live odor narcotics amounts were hidden in varied, furniture-filled rooms in locations unknown to the handler. Laila performed her narcotic search off lead as well, to remove any handler interaction or influence. The narcotics hidden consisted of the following:
Meth, 24 grams
Marijuana, 16 grams
Marijuana, 50 grams
Cocaine, 23 grams
Crack Cocaine, 2 grams
Heroin, 14 grams
Ecstacy, 3 grams
This satisfied my question as to whether a trained detection dog, having been trained on Scentlogix Detection Aids only, would identify live narcotics on first contact exposure. We then subsequently trained a total of three more dogs using the same method and testing as described previously in this article. All three of these dogs certified successfully and subsequently identified live narcotics on the street off traffic stops immediately after completion of their training and certification. They include:
• Atze von den Sportwaffen, marijuana off sniff of outer vehicle, closed doors/windows.
• Laila Belle von den Sportwaffen, heroin off traffic stop sniff of personal items
• Nova von den Sportwaffen, heroin and marijuana off traffic stop sniffs of outer vehicle, closed doors/windows
• Car z Oravskej Doliny, heroin off traffic stop sniff of personal items
Nova von den Sportwaffen was then sold to a department in Arizona and I’m happy to report that on her very first day on the street she positively alerted from the exterior of a vehicle on a traffic stop, resulting in marijuana located inside a closed, sealed, gasketed glass jar.
Therefore, at the conclusion of this double blind study, it is my belief that ScentLogix Detection Aids are consistent with the scientific analysis performed by David Adebimpe that the detection dogs used were unable to distinguish between live odor narcotics and the ScentLogix Detection Aids. After witnessing the benefits and ease of use of the ScentLogix Detection Aids and the certification results, it is my professional opinion that they are an extremely valuable tool in the training of reliable narcotic detection dogs.
For information contact Nate Harves by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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