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  • What does HHRD stand for?
    Historic Human Remains Detection (but we really mean historic and pre-contact)
  • Do your dogs only find human remains? What about other animal remains?
    ICF dogs only alert on the odor of human remains / decomposition. They can differentiate between human and other animals and are trained to ignore the non-human remains.
  • What age range of remains do you look for?
    ~100 years old and older. We refer cases of more recently deceased people, including missing persons, to law enforcement.
  • What are the oldest human remains you have found?
    Over 9,000 years old! See: Engbring, Laurel, Brian F. Byrd, John Grebenkemper, Adela Morris, MonicaV. Arellano, and Alan Leventhal, 2019, Assessing Canine Forensic Results with Archaeological Excavations at Protohistoric Site Síi Túupentak (CA-ALA-565/H) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Proceedings of the Society for California Archaeology 33:239–245, 2019
  • How deep a burial can you find?
    It depends on the soil above it. The soil depth and permeability must allow for the odor to reach the air column in order for the dog to detect and alert on it.
  • How can I learn more about using HHRD dogs as a remote sensing tool?
    Please contact us about workshops for professionals or students in archeology, forensic anthropology, etc. Or send us a message with a specific question.
  • How does the soil effect the dogs’ efficacy?
    The soil's permeability must allow for the odor to reach the air column in order for the dog to detect and alert on it.
  • How do you train an HHRD dog?
    Detection is a game to our dogs. They naturally know how to hunt. We teach them to only hunt for human remains and tell us when they have found it. A very simplified answer is that we associate the odor and alert with the dog receiving its favorite thing (usually a toy or food). So, the dog is highly motivated to find human remains.
  • How long does it take to train an HHRD dog?
    Usually 1.5 - 2 years
  • Can I join ICF and train my dog to be an HHRD dog?
    Sorry, we are not accepting new hander's at this time.
  • Do you train your own dogs?
    Yes, our handlers select, train, and work their own dog(s).
  • What is the best breed of dog for HHRD?
    First, we rule out site-hound breeds (e.g. greyhounds) that hunt primarily with their eyes. Then we tend to select breeds to have bred to work with humans (e.g. border collies, labradors, etc.). The handler also has to have an affinity for the breed in order for them to click.
  • What does it take for a dog to be able to do HHRD?
    We frequently select a dog based on the characteristics of the parents (in the case of puppies) or of the dog itself (in the case of an older dog). Each handler makes their own list of what they want, but we generally look for: Sound body Drive (A dog that will naturally go over, around, under, or thru a figurative “brick wall” to get to its goal) Ability to focus for long periods Independent, but takes guidance High play or food drive Environmentally stable Small size is desirable (for in-cabin plane travel, etc.)
  • How did you realize dogs can do this?
    See "How we got started"
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