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efreysson
05-12-2013, 11:29 AM
The second of act of my VIP is all about the protagonists being trapped in an abandoned city and hunted by a vampire who controls a wolf pack.
I'm wondering how the characters might try prevent the wolves from sniffing them out. If they stay inside and on top of buildings and travel by jumping from roof to roof rather than use the streets, might that help?
Also, does walking in water really dampen one's scent? The city is partially flooded.

girlyswot
05-12-2013, 04:23 PM
I think the water thing comes from hunting with dogs. When they reach water, they can't follow the scent, but I think that is just because the scent doesn't stay on the water (especially running water) as it does on land. But once the trail has been found on the other side of the water, they can follow it again. The wet person still smells.

SuspiciousCookie
05-12-2013, 04:30 PM
Kind of depends on the state of the city. Is it destroyed, or just abandoned? If it was just abandoned, your characters could try to look for scent-killing deodorants, detergents, spray or special scent-free clothes (hunters usually wear those) in some stores.

Something else that's important: Always, always try and make your characters move downwind of the vampires/dogs. The scent should be carried away from the pack, as far away as possible, so it's vital to not have the wind carry your scent right into the nose of them. You can easily find out if you are travelling downwind if you feel the wind blowing in your face when you face the dogs. Or, you know, simply use a handkerchief.

I would advise you to avoid all water. My logic tells me it would simply wash away the scent-killers, making you an easy prey again.

Please note that all of this comes from simple research as I'm not a hunter or anything, so you might want to wait for an expert's response on this one.

Cheers and I hope I could help,
Cookie

WriteKnight
05-12-2013, 04:49 PM
Mythbusteres did a whole episode on Bloodhound tracking.

http://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/30220-mythbusters-bloodhounds-video.htm

Basically - if you 'interrupt' the trail... it takes time for the dogs to find it. But find it they will.

jclarkdawe
05-12-2013, 04:54 PM
Pepper. Just spread some pepper on your trail. It will destroy a dog's nose for hours. It works like pepper spray. Otherwise, anything that is stronger smelling then you and will burn the nostrils will cover the scent. Gasoline for example. Skunk probably.

Wolves are not big scent trackers. A lot better then humans, they will fail dismally compared to a beagle or other dog that is bred for tracking.

Wolves are mainly using their noses to scout out the situation, like looking and listening. But smell travels with the wind, and you're blind to scent over about half of a circle around you. Think about downwind and upwind. Understand that in a city, the buildings cause the wind to change direction in ways that are unusual.

There is a MYTHBUSTERS episode where they're tracked by a dog. See http://mythbustersresults.com/hair-of-the-dog. But realize there's a lot of differences between a trained bloodhound and the average dog.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Elaine Margarett
05-12-2013, 04:58 PM
There is nothing that will mask the scent of prey/humans when being scented out by a canine or wolf. Period. Water actually conducts scent, and search dogs are used to find the bodies of people below the water surface. Scent molecules float to the surface and will be transported by both air currents above the water and water currents.

If the humans/prey are inside the building they will be detected. The only scenario that would work for you is to have them jump from building to building, especially if it's hot. Sunlight and hot air will draw scent upwards in what we call a chimneying effect. If it's cold or at night the scent will drop to the ground although it will be confusing to the wolves, possibly buying your people time.

Elaine Margarett
05-12-2013, 05:04 PM
Pepper. Just spread some pepper on your trail. It will destroy a dog's nose for hours. It works like pepper spray. Otherwise, anything that is stronger smelling then you and will burn the nostrils will cover the scent. Gasoline for example. Skunk probably.

Wolves are not big scent trackers. A lot better then humans, they will fail dismally compared to a beagle or other dog that is bred for tracking.

Wolves are mainly using their noses to scout out the situation, like looking and listening. But smell travels with the wind, and you're blind to scent over about half of a circle around you. Think about downwind and upwind. Understand that in a city, the buildings cause the wind to change direction in ways that are unusual...



Pepper will not mask the odor, although it will be an irritant. Wolves can and will both trail and air scent, superbly. Ground tracking is not the most efficent way for a hunter to hunt so there is no reason for wolves to adopt this method, although they are certainly capable of it. Tracking is where a dog will follow footstep by footstep (think Bloodhound). In search and rescue we generally will use air scenting dogs as opposed to ground tracking dogs although ground trackers certainly have their place.

Not sure how you draw the conculsion between a wolf and a beagle. Wolves work for themselves and can not be *trained* the way a beagle or other domestic dog can be trained so there really is no comparison. Wolves have been known to be able to scent prey from a mile away. Their very existance is dependent on this ability. Beagles were bred to trail or track a rabbit (preferably slowly) so the rabbit will circle back to the waiting hunter.

And yes, being upwind will provide a buffer to being detected.

Sonata
05-13-2013, 03:47 PM
I trained search and rescue canines for years from wilderness air-scent to urban man-trailing and human remains detection. There are a whole lot of aspects which will play into your situation. Please PM me and I'll be happy to work with you more specifically. I can give you general info, but I think we should discuss your setting (area, structures, and weather), the people involved, and a lot of other aspects to hold your readers suspension of disbelief in check. Unfortunately, I think to make a scene like this work you'll need to share some plot details you may not be ready to publicize (thus the PM), but I'm happy to help. I'm on bedrest after surgery, so have some time to share if you need. Let me know.

Sonata
05-13-2013, 03:58 PM
Staying on top of a building may help slow the critters down temporarily (like seconds or minutes if you're lucky) but dogs aren't dumb. They know prey species live in the trees (squirrels, coons, etc.) so a few animals might not think to look up, but as soon as one figures it out, the whole pack will be on them.

Air currents in an urban search are really tweaked by buildings and do strange (very cool things - I'm a scent theory nerd:Shrug:). The water may create some interesting scent movement, but sadly it won't thwart the wolves too much.

Also the fact that its an abandoned environment means that your protags scent will be very strong without others to saturate the area. I have a few thoughts on how you could do this, but again, PM me. This sounds like a fun challenge!

jclarkdawe
05-13-2013, 05:46 PM
Pepper will not mask the odor, although it will be an irritant. I'm sorry I wasn't clearer here. Yes, nothing masks odor. But pepper and certain other chemicals can cause sufficient irritation to limit a dog's ability to smell for some period of time, depending upon dosage.

Wolves can and will both trail and air scent, superbly. Again, sorry for not being clearer. The dog family, including wolves and foxes, have, I believe, the best ability to smell. Incredibly better then a human. But that doesn't mean that all members of the dog family are equal.

Ground tracking is not the most efficent way for a hunter to hunt so there is no reason for wolves to adopt this method, although they are certainly capable of it. Tracking is where a dog will follow footstep by footstep (think Bloodhound). In search and rescue we generally will use air scenting dogs as opposed to ground tracking dogs although ground trackers certainly have their place. I'm glad you pointed this out. I think the original poster didn't quite understand this, and I was conflating terms.

Not sure how you draw the conculsion between a wolf and a beagle. Wolves work for themselves and can not be *trained* the way a beagle or other domestic dog can be trained so there really is no comparison. Wolves have been known to be able to scent prey from a mile away. Their very existance is dependent on this ability. Beagles were bred to trail or track a rabbit (preferably slowly) so the rabbit will circle back to the waiting hunter. Here's a chart of the scent receptors for humans and some dog breeds.

Humans 5 million
Dachshund 125 million
Fox Terrier 147 million
German Shepherd 225 million
Beagle 225 million
Blood Hound 300 million

I can't find similar numbers for wolves, but as the high end of dogs are specifically bred for scenting ability, my guess is that these numbers will exceed a wolf. Further, the high end of dogs used for their noses' ability are going to be like human intelligence. Maybe not all genius sniffers, but better then average.

What I wanted to suggest is that putting wolves as equivalent with the top sensors of the dog world is probably over-rating wolves. My guess is that wolves are probably closer to the high end average, but that the top dogs can probably beat a wolf consistently.

And yes, being upwind will provide a buffer to being detected.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Elaine Margarett
05-13-2013, 05:58 PM
I respectfully disagree. An animal dependent on its ability to scent for it's survival will be superior to an animal bred by man for that specific purpose.

Domesticating dogs *removed* much of these abilities. Selective breeding to improve a dog's scenting ability simply returned to a degree what thousands of years of domestication took away.

BTW, I grew up with beagles, all with field trial champions in their background. I switched to German Shepherds once I grew up, and have trained GSDs to find people, drugs and explosives. I'll take a GSD over a beagle, any day. <g>

GeorgeK
05-13-2013, 09:34 PM
The wolves presumably will have difficulty with doors. I suggest periodic simple barricades as they go through buildings, and traps if possible

Maryn
05-13-2013, 10:57 PM
I like the way George thinks. In fact, I'd love to see the wolves knowing right where the prey is yet stymied by doorknobs--until they find one of those lever-type "knobs" which yields to downward pressure. Run, humans, run!

Maryn, whose kitchen ceiling has a view of the bathtub above

mirandashell
05-13-2013, 11:30 PM
I would go with George. Unless the vampire just uses the wolves to find the humans and then attacks himself. Or herself.

amschilling
05-13-2013, 11:35 PM
Here's a question: is this wolf pack made up of regular wolves, or werewolves?

Since there are vampires, I'm thinking it could be either. And quite frankly, if you're dealing with mythical creatures you have a lot more leeway. You want them limited on scenting abilities? Viola--your werewolves can't scent as well or have limits due to their partial human nature. You want them to be able to smell a squirrel burp from ten miles away? Done. They're your beasties. Be able to open doors? Okey dokey--again, your beasts, and part human so even in transformation they might have opposable thumbs. That said, even with mythical beasts it's good to have an understanding of what a real, related animal can and can't do. Some of us would be just dorky enough to call an author on something blatantly outside the realm of the possible.

Shifters might not work with your WIP, of course. You might be looking at 100% real wolves. Just wondering if you do, in fact, have room to play around a little.

efreysson
05-14-2013, 12:52 AM
The wolves presumably will have difficulty with doors. I suggest periodic simple barricades as they go through buildings, and traps if possible


I like the way George thinks. In fact, I'd love to see the wolves knowing right where the prey is yet stymied by doorknobse


I would go with George. Unless the vampire just uses the wolves to find the humans and then attacks himself. Or herself.

Well, he uses them partially as attack hounds since he can only be in one place at a time and the humans scatter after the initial attack, but he mostly needs the wolves to track them so he can do the killing himself.
The characters don't just want to keep the wolves at bay, they want to not be found at all since the master won't be far behind.
In fact, the second act ends with a siege, as the surviving humans take shelter inside a robust building and the vampire tries to break in. They can't get out without running smack into the wolves and he can't get in without getting stabbed a lot.
So after a while he starts setting fires, but that's another story...


Here's a question: is this wolf pack made up of regular wolves, or werewolves?


They are "regular", if unusually big and aggressive.

Canotila
05-14-2013, 06:58 AM
Any studies involving bloodhounds is moot because they are bred and trained strictly to track. Which is nose to ground, and if the trail on the ground is interrupted they are held up until they find it again.

Wolves don't operate that way. They are going to work much more like a search and rescue dog works, which is using a combination of trailing and air scenting. An air scent dog is encouraged to basically put its nose in the air and follow the quarry that way. So they won't necessarily trace the exact steps, they may end up taking a shortcut, or they may get lost.

Water will not throw off a tracking canine. My aunt's dog is trained specifically for underwater cadaver recovery. She can take her dog out in a boat, in a search pattern across the lake and it will tell her when they're above the dead body. She's found bodies more than 30' underwater this way.

When I was hiding for the search and rescue trainings, my job was to go out and try to fool the dogs for as long as possible. The longest it ever took to find me was about 8 hours. I had the wind at my back and jumped off a big ledge into a really big hole, then buried myself in wet leaves.

Because they're air scenting, you want the wind at your back. Try licking your finger and hold it up (outdoors), you can feel the air direction better. There are a lot more complicated things you can do with wind direction and eddies, etc. to trick them and I suggest taking Sonata up on their offer.

Beyond that, cigarette smoke really screws up dogs noses for scent work. It doesn't incapacitate them, but it makes it harder. The local search and rescue group had to ban smoking around incident scenes because it did make things noticeably harder on the dogs. They're also careful not to let car exhaust vent anywhere near the dog's crates, as that is thought to interfere. I don't know if it actually does though.

lbender
05-14-2013, 08:47 PM
Don't know how much it might help, but what would happen if they found and rolled in/smeared themselves with, wolf feces. Probably wouldn't block all scent, but might mask some. Would also indicate desperation, as you wouldn't do it unless you were desperate.

wendymarlowe
05-14-2013, 09:27 PM
There is nothing that will mask the scent of prey/humans when being scented out by a canine or wolf. Period. Water actually conducts scent, and search dogs are used to find the bodies of people below the water surface. Scent molecules float to the surface and will be transported by both air currents above the water and water currents.

If the humans/prey are inside the building they will be detected. The only scenario that would work for you is to have them jump from building to building, especially if it's hot. Sunlight and hot air will draw scent upwards in what we call a chimneying effect. If it's cold or at night the scent will drop to the ground although it will be confusing to the wolves, possibly buying your people time.

Partly true - there's nothing that will mask scent entirely, but there are ways to prevent a specific dog from being able to follow your scent for short periods:

1) cigarette smoke and car exhaust kill their ability to smell for half an hour or so

2) scent spreads more on dry days than it does when wet - it's a pain in the neck to search when it's raining, because you're soaked and visibility is bad and the scent is bad too.

3) scent also spreads more at certain times of day than others (i.e. early morning when the ground is warming and the air is rising versus evening when everything is cooling down).

4) scent goes with the wind and follows the terrain downhill and into gulleys/valleys/alleyways.

5) underwater cadaver detection is actually pretty hit-or-miss - when the dog does alert on a section of water at the surface, you have to figure out where the water came from :-P That can take quite a bit of thermodynamics to track currents and heat levels and time. While splashing through a river won't stop a dog from being able to follow you via air scent (because your scent is still hanging around on the wind), it does make it more difficult for the humans to track you via footprints/trail/trash left behind/etc.

6) Air scent only spreads when the air is moving - it does still spread in still air, but very, very slowly. If your protagonist can find somewhere airtight to hide (a closed room with no a/c, for example), that can really hinder the scent from spreading. There are products sold for hunters which can also help mask your scent (airtight gloves/mask/clothes, for example) - they won't stop your scent entirely, but they will reduce it.

7) Elevators would slow everything down, since they'd have to check every floor for his scent signature :-P

8) If you're high up in the air, like in a tree or on a building, your scent falls down in a cone shape (altered by the air currents, which themselves are altered by nearby buildings). This can make it really tricky to track where you are if they think you might be on the ground because it spreads your scent out without giving it directionality.


Any studies involving bloodhounds is moot because they are bred and trained strictly to track. Which is nose to ground, and if the trail on the ground is interrupted they are held up until they find it again.

Wolves don't operate that way. They are going to work much more like a search and rescue dog works, which is using a combination of trailing and air scenting. An air scent dog is encouraged to basically put its nose in the air and follow the quarry that way. So they won't necessarily trace the exact steps, they may end up taking a shortcut, or they may get lost.

Water will not throw off a tracking canine. My aunt's dog is trained specifically for underwater cadaver recovery. She can take her dog out in a boat, in a search pattern across the lake and it will tell her when they're above the dead body. She's found bodies more than 30' underwater this way.

When I was hiding for the search and rescue trainings, my job was to go out and try to fool the dogs for as long as possible. The longest it ever took to find me was about 8 hours. I had the wind at my back and jumped off a big ledge into a really big hole, then buried myself in wet leaves.

Because they're air scenting, you want the wind at your back. Try licking your finger and hold it up (outdoors), you can feel the air direction better. There are a lot more complicated things you can do with wind direction and eddies, etc. to trick them and I suggest taking Sonata up on their offer.

Beyond that, cigarette smoke really screws up dogs noses for scent work. It doesn't incapacitate them, but it makes it harder. The local search and rescue group had to ban smoking around incident scenes because it did make things noticeably harder on the dogs. They're also careful not to let car exhaust vent anywhere near the dog's crates, as that is thought to interfere. I don't know if it actually does though.

(quoting this one too because it has a lot of good points)

Bloodhounds scent on the ground, following a trail. Most other dogs do air scent, following wind patterns and whatnot. Bloodhounds do have spectacular noses compared to other breeds, but it can also take them longer because they don't take shortcuts - if you run in giant squiggles, they'll track the whole thing instead of just getting the gist of it and going straight.

I think, given the right setting and plot backstory, you've got a good shot of eluding werewolves in an urban environment :-)

(My background: I did K9 search and rescue for four years a few years back, air scent, mostly land and water cadaver searches. My dog was live find trained, though, so we did a few of those too. I won't profess to be an expert by any means, but I did learn a lot!)

Sonata
05-15-2013, 05:31 PM
Dry, still weather really ought to help your protag escape the wolves. Moisture catches scent (puddles, dew on grass, etc) and the smell will pool there (stinky bacteria love skin rafts and water). Also, lack of wind will not push the scent particles around much making tracking more difficult. Alternately, a heavy storm would make tracking virtually impossible. What time of day or night might be important, too, but if the air's hot, dry, and not moving much that should be enough to help your protags.

I'll give you a few ideas about how scent works, then you can work what you want into your story and ignore what you don't. If you get to something and aren't sure, let me know. When you're ready, I'd also be happy to beta read your scene to look for logistical issues, if you like.

That said, if your group splits up, that will help the odds. I think that your protag running atop roofs is a great idea. It should confuse most of the dogs for quite a while anyway, so long as none of them actually see him and bust him that way. They might catch his scent, but it would be so diluted from distance and height that they would have a hard time pinpointing him, unless he stops for any length of time.

Remember, the longer any of your characters stay in one place, the stronger their scent will be there. So, say you hide someone in an alcove, their scent will get stuck there for hours after. If you stuff them in a closet with a closed door, the scent will seep under the door, but it will be much more difficult for the dog, because it will have to have proximity to the door in order to detect the scent. Once it does though the smell will be so strong, there won't be any shaking the animal.

Unfortunately for your protags, an abandoned urban environment will be free of human scent meaning that the character's scent will be very easy to pick up for the wolves.

Rule of thumb - scent moves like smoke. Watch it slide over pavement, then get tangled in grass and bushes. Something to think about when you're moving your characters around. The more "props" the more the scent will get caught and pooled.

Quick lesson on how (we think) scenting works for dogs. Dogs follow essentially two scents - ground (or what comes off your shoes exactly where you step - that's bloodhound territory, and generally the weaker scent) and "air-scent." Humans shed a downright creepy amount of particles off the top of their heads, which then flows like a cone outward with the wind, with the person as the "point". This is our strongest scent loss by far. So covering your protag's head well won't hide the scent entirely, but it should help a little. Lets just say, I never remove my hat when I'm hunting.

We're not sure exactly how, but dog's can sense hormones very easily too. Example - if one of your characters is especially panicky (lots of adrenalin pumping through the system), that character will be particularly easy for your wolves to find, and downright distracting from other calmer characters. Sweating heavily, breathing hard, and adrenalin all stink and your wolves will find that fast. A blood trail will also make it super easy (I'm sure the vamp would agree), so if any one is injured, they will have a particularly hard time.

If your character goes into water, the wolves will likely work it out, especially if he's under any physical duress. After he leaves, his wet footprints will be like a yellow brick road for them to follow, at least if the wolves are hot on his trail.

A word on wolves. I know these are "special" wolves, but a "natural" wolf will not want to split up to find their quarry. They are far weaker as individuals. Just something to consider when writing your scenes.
Also, all dogs, especially those with a high prey drive (like wolves) can not resist a chase. Its ingrained in their DNA. So if some character gets the bright idea to just run, they are so going down. There will be no outrunning the wolves unless they can get an obstacle between them. I'm not kidding, a fast-moving, shrieking "prey" kicks in a very primal instinct in predators and they just have to chase, unless their teeth are already sunk into something yummy. I thought that might spark an idea for you with this scene, so I wanted to share.

Hope some of that helps, and my meds haven't made my brain so fuzzy that only I think I'm making sense:crazy:. Please don't hesitate to ask more questions. Bad portrayals of wolves and dogs is a major peeve of mine, so I'd like to help however I can.

Also, in response to some earlier posts (too lazy to go looking for quotes: sorry) one of the reasons dogs make such excellent tracking machines is because they have the ability to single out an odor and mark it. They actually have a special compartment in their olfactory system just for that purpose (again, we think - there's still a lot human's just don't "get"). So smoke, coffee grounds, febreze, whatever will only confuse them for a few moments at best. Once they've imprinted a scent they can single it out with incredibly accuracy. While smoke and exhaust won't help them breathe by any means, it won't stop them either. It just makes their job harder.

As far as underwater HRD (human remains detection) goes, bodies release gasses as they decomp, which float to the surface, so that's what the dogs key in on as far as we know. After working with an HRD dog, I just can't bring myself to swim anywhere that white foam builds up in a river or lake. "Body foam" - gives me the heebie-jeebies.

ECathers
05-16-2013, 08:56 PM
Pepper will not mask the odor, although it will be an irritant. Wolves can and will both trail and air scent, superbly. Ground tracking is not the most efficent way for a hunter to hunt so there is no reason for wolves to adopt this method, although they are certainly capable of it. Tracking is where a dog will follow footstep by footstep (think Bloodhound). In search and rescue we generally will use air scenting dogs as opposed to ground tracking dogs although ground trackers certainly have their place.

Not sure how you draw the conculsion between a wolf and a beagle. Wolves work for themselves and can not be *trained* the way a beagle or other domestic dog can be trained so there really is no comparison. Wolves have been known to be able to scent prey from a mile away. Their very existance is dependent on this ability. Beagles were bred to trail or track a rabbit (preferably slowly) so the rabbit will circle back to the waiting hunter.

And yes, being upwind will provide a buffer to being detected.

I've been looking to actually train some of my dogs for search & rescue, and would be grateful for advice, websites etc on this. Maybe I'm googling the wrong keywords cause I've found very little. Please do contact me if you have info.

efreysson
05-17-2013, 02:06 AM
That said, if your group splits up, that will help the odds. I think that your protag running atop roofs is a great idea. It should confuse most of the dogs for quite a while anyway, so long as none of them actually see him and bust him that way. They might catch his scent, but it would be so diluted from distance and height that they would have a hard time pinpointing him, unless he stops for any length of time.

Remember, the longer any of your characters stay in one place, the stronger their scent will be there. So, say you hide someone in an alcove, their scent will get stuck there for hours after.

Rule of thumb - scent moves like smoke. Watch it slide over pavement, then get tangled in grass and bushes. Something to think about when you're moving your characters around. The more "props" the more the scent will get caught and pooled.

I'll keep all this in mind.



We're not sure exactly how, but dog's can sense hormones very easily too. Example - if one of your characters is especially panicky (lots of adrenalin pumping through the system), that character will be particularly easy for your wolves to find, and downright distracting from other calmer characters. Sweating heavily, breathing hard, and adrenalin all stink and your wolves will find that fast. A blood trail will also make it super easy (I'm sure the vamp would agree), so if any one is injured, they will have a particularly hard time. I imagine being hunted by wolves and a crazed vampire would be very stressful indeed, and I'm very fond of putting my protagonists through the wringer. Lots of exertion and adrenaline. :)



Also, all dogs, especially those with a high prey drive (like wolves) can not resist a chase. Its ingrained in their DNA. So if some character gets the bright idea to just run, they are so going down. There will be no outrunning the wolves unless they can get an obstacle between them. I'm not kidding, a fast-moving, shrieking "prey" kicks in a very primal instinct in predators and they just have to chase, unless their teeth are already sunk into something yummy. I thought that might spark an idea for you with this scene, so I wanted to share.
Hmmm. So might a character slip away from a wolf by just moving slowly and deliberately and not setting it off? Maybe if it's alone and not hungry and not being specifically ordered to attack?



Also, in response to some earlier posts (too lazy to go looking for quotes: sorry) one of the reasons dogs make such excellent tracking machines is because they have the ability to single out an odor and mark it. They actually have a special compartment in their olfactory system just for that purpose (again, we think - there's still a lot human's just don't "get"). So smoke, coffee grounds, febreze, whatever will only confuse them for a few moments at best. Once they've imprinted a scent they can single it out with incredibly accuracy. While smoke and exhaust won't help them breathe by any means, it won't stop them either. It just makes their job harder.What if a character flees into a pantry, finds an old sack of ground pepper and throws it straight at the wolves? Might that mess up their noses for a while?

Related, how good is canine hearing?

Thanks for the great tips. I appreciate all the attention this thread is getting.

GeorgeK
05-17-2013, 02:46 AM
Related, how good is canine hearing?
.much like people, depends on the individual. We have one Great Pyr who is all but deaf, and completely relies on memories of where fences are and his sight which is poor. I think he operates mostly on scent.

Others can hear me give them a spoken request from 1/8 of a mile away and follow complex instructions

Elaine Margarett
05-17-2013, 03:15 AM
I've been looking to actually train some of my dogs for search & rescue, and would be grateful for advice, websites etc on this. Maybe I'm googling the wrong keywords cause I've found very little. Please do contact me if you have info.

Hi ECathers. I see you're a fairly recent member. Welcome to AW. My dialup isn't letting me PM so the short answer would be for you to contact www.ardainc.org (American Rescue Dog Assoc.) and google NASAR (National Assoc. of Search and Rescue). That will point you in the right direction. Good luck!

Sorry for the quick hijack. Please return to your regularly scheduled discussion. ;-)

thothguard51
05-17-2013, 03:53 AM
If these are natural wolves and not some super hybrid type, then they have natural enemies, like cougars.

Find a sporting good store, (one that is well stocked), and see if they carry cougar pellets, made to smell like cougar piss. Its how a cougar marks its territory.

Your sprinkle it around the building they are in, and the wolves stay away. Or maybe skunk pellets, or others that ward off predators.

We had to sprinkle fox pellets around our property to keep out raccoons. It works until it rains, and then we would have to do it again. Once the raccoons got the idea that a fox was marking its territory, they just started staying away.

As to when your characters are on the move, they could mix up a match of those pellets in water, and then soak their pants in the stuff. The scent will be confusing to any wolves tracking by air...

Elaine Margarett
05-17-2013, 06:14 AM
Don't know how much it might help, but what would happen if they found and rolled in/smeared themselves with, wolf feces. ..

The wolves would smell humans AND wolf feces. <g> IOW, it wouldn't make a difference.

lbender
05-17-2013, 08:24 PM
The wolves would smell humans AND wolf feces. <g> IOW, it wouldn't make a difference.


Out of curiosity, and because I don't know the answer - I always thought that at least part of the reason why dogs rolled in dead things was to somewhat mask their scent from other animals. Are you saying that such behavior has nothing to do with scent masking...in essence, it has no effect on whether another animal, predator or prey, can pick up their scent?

ECathers
05-17-2013, 08:51 PM
Hi ECathers. I see you're a fairly recent member. Welcome to AW. My dialup isn't letting me PM so the short answer would be for you to contact www.ardainc.org (http://www.ardainc.org) (American Rescue Dog Assoc.) and google NASAR (National Assoc. of Search and Rescue). That will point you in the right direction. Good luck!

Sorry for the quick hijack. Please return to your regularly scheduled discussion. ;-)


Awesome and much thanks. Sonata has also been giving me some fantastic advice on training my dogs. I am totally thankful to all of you.

ECathers
05-17-2013, 09:05 PM
Out of curiosity, and because I don't know the answer - I always thought that at least part of the reason why dogs rolled in dead things was to somewhat mask their scent from other animals. Are you saying that such behavior has nothing to do with scent masking...in essence, it has no effect on whether another animal, predator or prey, can pick up their scent?

In my very limited understanding, I feel the reason my dogs roll around in the bodies of dead things is cause...they like it. Yes they are just that weird and wacky. Hopefully someone will come along who can explain it better.

These are the very same dogs who felt that eating yak turds was great fun. (Yes now imagine me trying to train them out of that "shit".) (And please don't kiss me now!) Not to mention tossing that stuff in the air as if it were a ball game.

Elaine Margarett
05-17-2013, 10:35 PM
Out of curiosity, and because I don't know the answer - I always thought that at least part of the reason why dogs rolled in dead things was to somewhat mask their scent from other animals. Are you saying that such behavior has nothing to do with scent masking...in essence, it has no effect on whether another animal, predator or prey, can pick up their scent?

I think they do it because they like it. <g> Watch a dog's expression when they engage in this behavior. It's pure pleasure.

The way a dog smells (and I'm assuming other scent-driven preditors) is that each and every componet has a distinguishable scent. I used to use the stew example when I'd give a presentation. We smell stew cooking and we think, "Yum, stew." Maybe if the garlic or the onions are particularly strong they too can be detected, but to us stew smells like stew. To a dog, it smells like beef, salt, carrots, water, etc... IOW they can break it down to the ingredients.

I would also liken it to the way we can see color with our ability to disginguish all the nuances of shade. Dogs can smell the nuances.

There was a search and rescue training where a dog found a human bone instead of the live subject. This wasn't a cadaver trained dog, but a dog trained on live people. Live people have bones. Just like a stew has water. <g> The bone was tested and found to be over a hundred years old.

mirandashell
05-17-2013, 11:23 PM
I know they aren't very happy about being thrown in a bath when they get home! LOL!

Canotila
05-18-2013, 08:32 PM
There was a search and rescue training where a dog found a human bone instead of the live subject. This wasn't a cadaver trained dog, but a dog trained on live people. Live people have bones. Just like a stew has water. <g> The bone was tested and found to be over a hundred years old.

That was our experience. We never actually train them to find cadavers because they indicate on them anyway. The first dog I trained was only trained on live people, and on her very first real mission found a jaw fragment and teeth from a little girl who had been missing for over 10 years.

Elaine Margarett
05-19-2013, 05:16 AM
That was our experience. We never actually train them to find cadavers because they indicate on them anyway. The first dog I trained was only trained on live people, and on her very first real mission found a jaw fragment and teeth from a little girl who had been missing for over 10 years.

Yes. I've long suspected it's the handlers who need to be cadaver trained. ;-)

Sonata
05-19-2013, 06:55 AM
I'll keep all this in mind.

I imagine being hunted by wolves and a crazed vampire would be very stressful indeed, and I'm very fond of putting my protagonists through the wringer. Lots of exertion and adrenaline. :)

As writers, we get to be so mean, don't we? :evil
Thought that might help you out a bit. I was hinting at you maybe using other characters as decoys. Maybe one of the group is especially flighty, hysterical, something like that. They might end up getting killed off, but just a thought.


Hmmm. So might a character slip away from a wolf by just moving slowly and deliberately and not setting it off? Maybe if it's alone and not hungry and not being specifically ordered to attack?

Again, I was thinking more of a distraction technique - using some other poor sap as a decoy. Unfortunately, the wolf would probably not fall for that. It depends on your wolves and how you write the scene, I suppose. I mean, generally speaking, that's a better way to handle an aggressive dog than running and screaming.

Something else to keep in mind though - never turn your back on an aggressive dog. Period. Never let them get behind you. They are programmed to take down prey from behind, so if anything, at least have the character back away, no eye contact, and have a quick easy escape (door, fence to climb, something.) The wolf may hesitate for a moment if the person behaves that way, but somehow I suspect these Vamp's wolves will be a touch meaner than your average dog.


What if a character flees into a pantry, finds an old sack of ground pepper and throws it straight at the wolves? Might that mess up their noses for a while?

Okay, I admit this one made me laugh out loud. Awesome! The bad part here is that I just don't think it would work. Have you ever tried to fill a pepper shaker and not sneezed. I worked at a restaurant for years and never once succeeded. I'm afraid your MC would probably have burning eyes and mad sneezing too.


Related, how good is canine hearing?

Excellent, mostly. GeorgeK makes a good point that many dogs have hearing issues, but Pyre's have floppy ears and wooly coats which makes ear infections more common compared to dogs with erect ears. While wolves are not immune (in fact, probably more susceptible than dom. canines, because of lack of vet care) I just can't see your Vampire having a handicapped wolf in his go-get-em pack, you know.

Also, physiologically, wolves are made with really incredible auditory systems as well. Think about it. The placement of the pointed ears on top of their heads. They are like satellite dishes, rotating different directions to pick up sounds and pinpoint them. Their hearing exceeds human's by a long shot.


Thanks for the great tips. I appreciate all the attention this thread is getting

You're very welcome. I just hope it helps.:)

Canotila
05-19-2013, 08:52 PM
On the subject of canine hearing, once I did a demonstration for my sister to show her how well trained my borzoi is.

The borzoi was out in the yard. There were no open windows between us. Just the thick well insulated walls of a house and sliding glass doors. She was about 50 feet away, standing near some rose bushes.

I whispered, "Kaia, come."

Her ears went up (as much as a borzoi's ears can go) and she immediately bounded over to the door and woofed at me.

When I first realized she could hear me whispering outside from behind closed doors was when I felt really bad for yelling around my dogs. Now I only speak to them in a very quiet voice, and they obey just fine.

Is the city they're in totally abandoned? Or are there are areas with car traffic? I imagine if they could lure the wolves across a busy road it would either slow them down or knock a few out in the process.

Edit: Just noticed you said it's partially flooded. How flooded exactly? Are there areas only accessible by boat? That could potentially slow them down quite a bit. Wolves can swim, but there are limits to their endurance. My pointer was a very strong swimmer, swam daily in the ocean. When I'd go kayaking he'd manage to swim alongside the kayak for about a mile and a half before he started floundering and needed to be pulled in. If they could get somewhere surrounded by a lot of water, the wolves would get across eventually but it might buy them some time to rest, put distance between them, find weapons, etc.

efreysson
05-21-2013, 02:17 AM
Is the city they're in totally abandoned? Or are there are areas with car traffic? I imagine if they could lure the wolves across a busy road it would either slow them down or knock a few out in the process.

It's a pre-industrial fantasy setting, so no cars. And yes, the city has been totally abandoned for 20 years.



Edit: Just noticed you said it's partially flooded. How flooded exactly? Are there areas only accessible by boat? That could potentially slow them down quite a bit. Wolves can swim, but there are limits to their endurance. My pointer was a very strong swimmer, swam daily in the ocean. When I'd go kayaking he'd manage to swim alongside the kayak for about a mile and a half before he started floundering and needed to be pulled in. If they could get somewhere surrounded by a lot of water, the wolves would get across eventually but it might buy them some time to rest, put distance between them, find weapons, etc.The water mostly ranges from waist-deep to a little over six feet.
I'm trying to unclog a bit of writer's block and just came up with the idea that the protagonist might dive into the water, the wolves would swim after him, and he would lose them by diving and going through a flooded drainage pipe.

Wouldn't wolves be unlikely to follow?

wendymarlowe
05-21-2013, 08:49 AM
There was a search and rescue training where a dog found a human bone instead of the live subject. This wasn't a cadaver trained dog, but a dog trained on live people. Live people have bones. Just like a stew has water. <g> The bone was tested and found to be over a hundred years old.

Great story from my search and rescue team (although before my time):

One of the more common things our team got called out for was adults with dementia who wandered off. It's pretty common, and when the caretaker/nursing home staff/family can't find them on their own, the search dog team got called in.

In this particular case, a woman frequently wandered away from home and walked the two blocks to the cemetery where her husband had been buried. She got lost sometimes, though, and would end up wandering around the cemetery or around other nearby neighborhoods. Her nurse couldn't find her, so my team got asked to come out. Our team leader got there first - she's the most experienced person in our group, with the most experienced (and best-trained) dog. She sent her dog out into the cemetery with a command to go find . . .

. . . and he immediately ran to the nearest grave, gave his cadaver alert, and began digging. She managed to stop him before he dug up the body, but she had to call someone else on the team whose dog WASN'T cross-trained in cadaver search to finish the quadrant in the cemetery :-P

Sonata
05-21-2013, 05:07 PM
Great story from my search and rescue team (although before my time):

One of the more common things our team got called out for was adults with dementia who wandered off. It's pretty common, and when the caretaker/nursing home staff/family can't find them on their own, the search dog team got called in.

In this particular case, a woman frequently wandered away from home and walked the two blocks to the cemetery where her husband had been buried. She got lost sometimes, though, and would end up wandering around the cemetery or around other nearby neighborhoods. Her nurse couldn't find her, so my team got asked to come out. Our team leader got there first - she's the most experienced person in our group, with the most experienced (and best-trained) dog. She sent her dog out into the cemetery with a command to go find . . .

. . . and he immediately ran to the nearest grave, gave his cadaver alert, and began digging. She managed to stop him before he dug up the body, but she had to call someone else on the team whose dog WASN'T cross-trained in cadaver search to finish the quadrant in the cemetery :-P

I made a mistake x-training my dog precisely because of that sort of thing.

Many of our searches were for the elderly as well. That's how our team discovered that adrenalin was so much more stinky. Folks with dementia aren't excited or scared at all when they wander off - they're just going for a walk. Makes them harder to find.

Such an interesting topic. Course, I'm biased.:)

Canotila
05-22-2013, 01:04 AM
It's a pre-industrial fantasy setting, so no cars. And yes, the city has been totally abandoned for 20 years.

The water mostly ranges from waist-deep to a little over six feet.
I'm trying to unclog a bit of writer's block and just came up with the idea that the protagonist might dive into the water, the wolves would swim after him, and he would lose them by diving and going through a flooded drainage pipe.

Wouldn't wolves be unlikely to follow?

I think that could work. They'll probably know where he went. But it would take an especially tenacious and game animal to follow their prey underwater for any length of time. One of my friends is a boar hunter. He's worked with many very tough dogs over the years.

Once in a while they'll get an individual who will go above and beyond pursuing a hog, like diving underwater and swimming under a giant deadfall to reach the hog, but that's really rare even among dogs that are specifically bred to have that kind of drive. And while it's awesome, it's not really the greatest behavior for dogs that are supposed to hunt dangerous game as a team because then the badass dog is confronting it all alone while the other dogs try to catch up. Wolves are smart hunters, and I don't think they'd split up like that to go after their game.


I made a mistake x-training my dog precisely because of that sort of thing.

Many of our searches were for the elderly as well. That's how our team discovered that adrenalin was so much more stinky. Folks with dementia aren't excited or scared at all when they wander off - they're just going for a walk. Makes them harder to find.

Such an interesting topic. Course, I'm biased.:)

I did some foundation training with my borzoi (like runaways), and am convinced criminals put off some distinct stinky "I'm doing bad stuff" smell. Once in a while he'll get a wild desire to follow some scent and I'll let him. The first time he found a brand new $1000 road bike buried in the leaves in the middle of the forest, two miles from a very rough trail.

The second time he found two crescent clips and several hundred stolen AR15 rounds wrapped in an old coat and stuffed inside a giant cement block in the middle of a field. The police were super happy about that one, since they had already recovered the stolen firearms and given up hope of ever finding all the stolen ammo. He's not a SAR dog at all. Just remembers some of that early drive building stuff we did.

Bahaha Elaine! I almost choked on my dinner. Going to have to pass that story on.

efreysson
05-22-2013, 06:41 PM
It occurs to me I really should have asked how wolves would attack a human. I know attacks are rare, but do they go for the legs to trip the prey up, the groin, do they go for the throat like cats, what?

Canotila
05-23-2013, 05:26 AM
It occurs to me I really should have asked how wolves would attack a human. I know attacks are rare, but do they go for the legs to trip the prey up, the groin, do they go for the throat like cats, what?

Wolves typically try to disable their prey before eating. They sometimes they start feeding while it's still alive. To a wolf, working as a team to bring down game without anyone getting hurt is the priority. They don't have vet care so have to be a lot more cautious.

In comparison, dogs can be downright stupid about self preservation when they're hunting.

If wolves were pursuing a person for food they would probably harry them until the person was too exhausted to resist, then move in and crunch up their limbs. A typical dog/wolf killing move is to bite and shake their head really hard. This is effective for breaking bone and tearing muscle.

As a reader I would be okay with the wolves attacking in a non wolflike way because attacking people isn't normal, they've already been trained to do other non wolfy behaviors like relentlessly pursue their master's enemies, and they're (presumably) not going to eat the people.

So the question is, what are they trained to do when they corner/catch their prey? Are they trained to kill? To physically restrain until their master shows up? Disable by maiming? To hold them at bay until their master shows up and takes over?