Madeleine – Gonçalo is in training

Gonçalo is in training. In addition to teaching him the domestic niceties, work has begun on training him to find living and dead people.

The latter aspect has 3 sections to it.

First, Gonçalo is learning to play ‘fetch’. I read an article by a police hander which concluded that one of the key aspects of training was rewarding the dog with a session chasing a tennis ball. Thus far, progress on this front is limited. Indoors, Gonçalo will play fetch, and then get a small treat for doing well. Outdoors, Gonçalo will ‘chase’ a tennis ball, but he has never yet brought it back.

Second is the issue of ticks. We have two sections to our plot. The part nearer the house is considered garden, where the grass is medium length because it gets mowed regularly. The part further away is considered meadow, which is uncut, and at the moment vegetation is just under waist-high.

Gonçalo loves the meadow. He likes bounding through the tall vegetation. Obviously, the grass is taller than he is, and I can only work out where the dog is by watching the ripples at the top of the plants.

The problem is that long vegetation is prime tick territory. Every morning at breakfast, Gonçalo gets a few drops of a veterinary medicine designed to kill ticks once they start sucking his blood. The ticks love Gonçalo’s long floppy ears. As they can transfer to humans, it means I have to check the dog for ticks after every romp, before the ticks settle in, or switch to us.

This means I won’t be training him in the meadow, as I had intended. Instead I am going to have to train him in the shorter grass of the garden.

The third issue is what we feed Gonçalo on. He managed to thieve some of our (raw) potatoes, and proceeded to tuck in, until I got them off him. Several hours later I was treated to his first vomit, a mixture of raw potato and grass. That incident led me to think about what we feed him on. He is certainly no vegetarian.

For his breakfast and dinner, the main ingredients are dehydrated chicken protein and rice, with things like beef pulp and vegetable oils.

He gets two types of mini-treats, tiny morsels for a small well done. One is lamb-based. The other is chicken and fish.

He gets a maxi-treat when he does something ‘big’ correct. For example, if he walks around our garden off the leash, does not run away, and comes to me when called. These big treats consist of cereals, oils, meat and meat derivatives.

So Gonçalo is getting a fair bit of vegetarian mixed in with his meat.

The thought that struck me was if a dog eats a wide range of meat and fish products, how does it learn to detect dead humans?

So far, I have not seen pork mentioned explicitly in the list of ingredients, but meat derivatives covers a range of possibilities. If things work out, I intend to train Gonçalo on fresh and decaying pork, as I can’t use humans.

Possibly dehydrating the meat removes most or all of the smell. I feel an experiment coming on.

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2 thoughts on “Madeleine – Gonçalo is in training

  1. You’ll have to find a pig who died naturally, Sil, I think I told you that before, if you want to train Gonçalo to detect human cadavers of course ! The animals that humans eat are killed and treated in such a way that the decomposition process is different, hence the VOCs.

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