Find-M ‘Friends will donate the 30th trained sleuth to the police | Local News


As soon as Linda Boles opened the kennel door and attached a 6ft leash to the harness, Sammy put her nose to the ground and pointed her tail wagging skyward.

“There’s a good girl,” Boles told the 7-month-old, black and tan colored bloodhound, whose official name is Samantha.

Boles placed a cloth covered in the scent of his “lost” staff member Sam McEwen in front of Sammy’s sniffer.

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In the dog’s muzzle, the scent flowed into an olfactory center of 230 million olfactory receptors – 40 times the number of a human, according to a PBS nature report.

“Ours is like a postage stamp,” Boles said, “and theirs is like a leaf.”

Sammy absorbs every ingredient in the unique scent recipe.

In almost an instant, with her long ears bouncing with every leap she took, the young canine was on the hunt, pulling her veteran handler in tow.

Puppies like Sammy are trained by Find-M ‘Friends president Linda Boles at her training center north of Crystal River. Above, the animal has smelled the scent of another human from the white cloth Boles is holding and is eager to set out on the trail to find the person.

“You don’t want to lead your dog, you want… let them guide you,” Boles said, noting the benefits of a long leash. “There is a lot of movement going on. “

What distinguishes a Bloodhound from other tracking breeds is its ability to distinguish the scents it encounters. They can also track an odor over long periods of time and in bad weather.

It didn’t take long for Sammy to find McEwen and his bag of hot dog treats during the short training exercise at the Camp Hound field on the northern outskirts of Crystal River.

At the end of her quick trail, Sammy jumped on McEwen – a sign to Boles that she found the owner of the perfume.

As well as rewarding Sammy with a few bite-sized hot dogs, Boles and McEwen greeted the dog with great affection.

“It’s all about the fun,” Boles said. “It’s a big game for them.

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Sam McEwen rewards “Sammy” after a successful tracking exercise at the Find-M ‘Friends training complex north of Crystal River. Linda Boles, President of Find ‘M Friends stands on the left. It has been operating its search and rescue and dog training center since 2014.

Sammy was one of four 8 week old bloodhound puppies Boles and his nonprofit Find-M ‘Friends, Inc. purchased from a breeder in Kentucky.

In about four months, Sammy, Sophie, Scarlet and Hoover will part ways with Boles and begin a career in law enforcement in the United States to help locate corpses, criminals, children, hunters, hikers, disabled people or any other missing person. their way.

This will be Find-M ‘Friends’s 30th donation to police departments in nine states.

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Inside Find-M ‘Friends’ state-of-the-art kennel, the names of many dogs placed with their law enforcement masters line the walls.

“We feel extremely lucky to be able to help an agency track people… and use a dog for what they were trained and bred for,” Boles said. “It means a lot … it helps us keep our fire burning.”

Boles founded Find-M ‘Friends (FMF) in 2014, turning his own farm into Camp Hound.

Her dedication to finding the missing and escaped began a few years before the founding of the FMF, when she was laying bloodhounds with her father, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I saw the reality of it when I gave instructions to my dad, and that’s not what I told him to do,” Boles said. “In this case, my dad was lost and I had to find him, and it was training – it was scary.”

Not only does the FMF train dogs, but its volunteers and bloodhounds help authorities – local and distant – in their search and rescue efforts. FMF’s most recent mission took place earlier in June, when its two sleuths helped locate 82-year-old James Taylor, missing in Homosassa.

“It’s our passion,” Boles said, “we absolutely love doing what we do.”

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Tracking sleuth training is a full-time exercise. Linda Boles is getting ready for training work with one of the four puppies she currently has in her compound. Law enforcement officers are brought in and paired with an animal once the dogs are trained and ready to be taken to the field.

When Boles contacts a bloodhound breeder, she asks him for his little rascals – puppies full of curiosity, fearless and with a line of working dogs.

“Give me the troublemakers,” she said. “I don’t want the dog lurking around the corner.”

A small stature – around 70 pounds – is also a plus for the dog’s longevity and for his handler to hoist him over obstacles.

Research volunteer spreads the word about the perfume kit

Bloodhound trainers who are due to enter duty also begin early to desensitize and socialize their dogs to acclimatize them to the many environments in which they will be working.

As Sammy and his littermates grew up in Camp Hound, Boles exposed them to the sights, sounds, and textures of a variety of different settings, from islands to shops.

Boles also maintains a radio in the FMF Kennel, built about six years ago with $ 20,000 from the American Kennel Club after leaving Citrus County. An attached dog shower and bath came later.

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The Find-M ‘Friends group is actively involved in search and rescue when people go missing, as well as law enforcement when criminals run away.

With donations of $ 6,000 in materials and labor from the local 4-H club, Camp Hound has created a wooden playground filled with stairs, ramps and movable platforms to help toughen up bloodhounds.

“We just get them used to all kinds of different things; if you can think of it, we do, ”Boles said. “The noise and movement under their feet … you want them to continue.”

Boles and McEwen try to take the bloodhounds puppies out on scent trails a few times a week, gradually increasing distance and time to build up their stamina and nose.

“Right now they’re doing 45 minutes to an hour,” Boles said. “I would like it to pass at six o’clock; they’re doing pretty well.

Each sleuth has a different style of tracking, going from a straight line to a zigzag, and it comes down to their relationship with their handler on how to translate their actions.

“Dogs are not little machines over there; we’re a team, ”Boles said. “You have to know this dog and read what he tells you; is he in a good tracking position … or is his head up and he is walking around? “

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Linda Boles relies on the support of the community as well as individual donors to ensure the viability of Find-M ‘Friends.

Future FMF-trained sleuth managers spend a week with their potential partner to see if they can form a bond.

“If I have a heavy-handed officer who’s going to shake my dog,” Boles said, “he won’t have it.”

Boles said she had yet to meet an unfit handler or had a bloodhound who couldn’t have kept up with her training.

“If that happens, I will find a home for this dog,” she said, adding that she welcomes FMF dogs once they retire around the age of 10. “You just have to look at them.”

Boles remains in contact with the owners who have collected his dogs.

FMF has also donated approximately 20,000 fragrance preservation kits over the years to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and civic groups in the area to distribute to people.

These kits, which can be picked up free from the sheriff’s offices, can keep an odor intact for at least five years.

Simply rub the gauze provided in the kit over the person’s body, seal it in the jar, and place it on top of the refrigerator, where the police know they must look in case that person is missing.

“Please use it; it could save a life, ”Boles said. “Don’t take more than you need.”

Boles said the hard part of the training isn’t having enough volunteers to help whip up scents for the bloodhounds to follow, but she can’t be a babysitter for one person or their children.

Boles aimed to purchase the neighboring residence to expand the FMF and board officers as they descended to meet their sleuths. Boles also wants to start a summer camp.

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Everything, even the weather vane, at Find-M ‘Friends is about the bloodhound.

For more information about FMF and how to donate or volunteer, search for “Find-M ‘Friends Inc.” on Facebook.

“I am truly blessed in a lot of different ways in terms of what we can accomplish,” Boles said. “As we progress, it’s going to get big.”

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