Thursday, August 23, 2001

Can you help?


Clermont's Deputy Roy on the run

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        Law-enforcement officials in Clermont County are looking for one of their own.

        He was seen hanging around a playground. A woman thinks he might have been lurking in her garage. Somebody saw him near a hardware store.

        “We always seem to be just one step behind him,” Sheriff's Deputy Chris Stratton says. “He's quick.”

        On the run for the past two weeks, Roy has brown eyes, red hair and big ears. Oh, and he drools. A lot. This is part of his job. So is sticking his very sensitive nose into people's underwear.

        He's a bloodhound.

        At first, it seems kind of funny. This is a dog whose job is finding people. And he is lost.

        Chris Stratton, Roy's partner, isn't laughing. He's afraid Roy will get hit by a car. He's afraid somebody will catch him and keep him. Most of all, he's afraid he'll need Roy, and the dog won't be there.
       

A life saver

        Once Chris and his other bloodhound, Buffy, found a boy, a diabetic, who'd been missing 14 hours. Buffy sniffed a pair of the boy's shorts and found him an hour and a half later. Just in time.

        “He was having a seizure.” In more than eight years of law enforcement, he says, “I don't think I've ever had a better moment than when that mom hugged me and thanked me for saving his life.”

        Chris and the dogs are not always in search of innocents lost. They track burglars, thieves and thugs of every persuasion.

        “But you get another chance to catch bad guys. When it's a little kid, maybe you just get the one chance. And maybe you only have a few hours.”
       

Talent and spit

        Bloodhounds are a nearly perfect tracking animal. Their wrinkles, the folds in their skin, their floppy ears, form a funnel around their noses to trap a scent. Even their saliva has a purpose, reconstituting a cold trail, according to Chris, who has been working with Roy for the past 18 months. Roy has about a thousand hours of training.

        And a lot of natural talent.

        “He's very driven,” he says. “When he is on a trail, he doesn't pay attention to anything else. Roy likes me, but when he's on a trail, he doesn't care if I'm there or not. I could fall down. He'd keep going.”

        He was the last puppy left in the litter when Chris bought him for $300. “He is just really, really good at the job.”

        Roy is not, however, the ideal pet. He's a sloppy houseguest, not much of a watchdog and leaped a 6-foot-high stockade fence with no warning. Chris thinks maybe he caught wind of a deer.

        It rained for two days after he left, so this amazing tracking dog can't retrace his own tracks. Chris says he's confused, probably scared.

        If you see Roy, telephone the Clermont County Sheriff's Department, and they'll send a car for him. He loves hotdogs, and is most likely to come to women and small children.

        Is he valuable?

        Chris thinks for a minute. “He'd ruin your furniture, tear up your yard, might not come if you called him. But what would he be worth to you if your granddaughter went missing?”

        Point taken. Call 732-7500 if you can help put this priceless dog back where he can do the most good.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393.

       



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