Maine Game Warden Michelle Merrifield and her K-9 partner “Duchess” paid a visit to Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE) Monday, Oct. 28, to demonstrate how the dog can track people lost in the woods.

Merrifield explained to students at BCOPE that Duchess, a 10-year-old Dutch Shepherd, is one of three K-9s in the state that is a certified cadaver dog; meaning Duchess is trained to locate human remains.

During the demonstration, Merrifield told students how she and Duchess assisted in the search for a man who had been missing from his residence for about four days. Prior to beginning the search, Merrifield explained that she takes what she referred to as a “scent article,” a piece of clothing or other item with the missing person's scent on it, to allow Duchess to orient herself to the person's smell.

Duchess then begins the process of tracking the scent while Merrifield follows and marks locations on a GPS device. In the case of the man the duo were tracking, Merrifield said Duchess came to an area where most of the trees had been cut down with the exception of small clumps of fir trees.

At that time, Duchess began searching in each clump of fir trees before she and Merrifield eventually located the body of the missing man.

After explaining how she and Duchess work together, Merrifield gave a brief demonstration of Duchess's tracking prowess by having one of the students hide his hat near a maple tree. Duchess began sniffing her way along the ground before locating the hat and earning a much-deserved treat.