As Halloween quickly approaches and people continue to be obsessed with all things zombie (yes, The Walking Dead has started its new season and let us not forget Z Nation or iZombie), it somehow seems oddly, and perhaps, morbidly, appropriate, to talk about what we can do with our bodies after we have ceased to use them. Seriously. Many of you have most likely heard you can sign up for programs involving organ donation or, literally, leave your body to science, but there is another area that, as a dog person, you may want to consider. Willing your body to be used for Cadaver Dog training.
After reading an intriguing article in the Chicago Tribune about the varying ways one can leave a body to science, the next logical step, at least to a particular way of thinking, would be to find out more about leaving a body for Cadaver Dog research. Coming across an interesting blog on Farm Fresh Forensics, Behind the Tape: Cadaver Dogs, while dark humor peppered the material, it also touched briefly upon the value of this canine job and the difficulty there can be in finding the proper training tools. Yep, you guessed it. Human remains.
And in spite of either the movie monster matinee images the thought conjures or just-this-side of questionable humor encited, it is serious business. In fact, many Search and Rescue teams are desperate to have anything human that will provide a new scent given to them. Some state laws make it difficult to obtain human remains and teams, like those based in Oregon, are often reliant on friends and family to provide what is required. Cadaver Dogs catalog each distinct scent they encounter from a “source,” a nice way to say human deposit, and file it away for future reference. While artificial remains available for use in training, it is not as reliable as human samples. When it comes right down to it, the training can mean a lot of things to different people, from finding a lost person to finding key evidence to getting closure following a tragedy.
Source is also used in a variety of decomposition phases and therefore, does require replacement for continued training. There is some access to from the medical industry, but there are limitations and concerns with liability, so that is not always a consistent resource if the state laws do not align accordingly.
It’s not a very pleasant topic to think about, but as end of life will, at some point, be inevitable, as you consider aspects such as care for your pets and personal arrangements, donating your body to a Cadaver Dog program may in fact allow you to save a life long after you are gone. And if nothing else, it is certainly more practical than being a zombie.