Peachy Keen Nose: Tim Devine and Bloodhound Offer Tracking Services

It’s not unusual to see dogs at Globe University-La Crosse since the vet tech program houses shelter animals each week. But you might not expect to see a 90 pound bloodhound snuffling around a classroom.

Recently, Peach, a bloodhound owned and trained by La Crosse County Sheriff’s Deputy,Tim Devine, stopped by campus. Peach and Tim work together to help locate lost or missing people in the Coulee Region.

Tim Devine and Peach

Tim felt that La Crosse and the surrounding areas could use an asset like Peach. He credited a La Crosse  legend for his initial interest in bloodhounds.

“There was a fellow in La Crosse by the name of George Brooks. He was internationally renowned for his blood hounds,” Tim said.

Tim wanted to make sure to carry on George’s legacy of successful dogs and philanthropy. “He worked hard at it, had good dogs, and he was shipped all over the country to look for people,” Tim said. “What I wanted to keep in common with George was I don’t charge anything do my work. George never did either.”

When Tim started looking for hounds, he stayed in his home state. “I looked around, and the best hound I found was right in Wisconsin,” he said.

Though the cost of a bloodhound could be pricey (starting at $800), Tim knows Peach was worth the investment. “It was hard work to train her, but she is well worth the effort,” he noted.

When he discussed training Peach, he stressed the importance of scent. “Fifty million cells shed off people every day,” he said.

“They [the dogs] get the scent from those cells that have your DNA on it. The skin cells that come off you are controlled by the weather, and those cells come up and off and float around until they land.”

But it’s not only those skin cells that help Peach stay on the trail. Bloodhound’s loose skin and ears contribute, too. “Those long ears are for a reason; they sweep the ground and they’ll pick scent up and help it to the dog’s nose,” Tim said.

Beyond that, even the anatomy of a bloodhound’s nose makes a difference. “A bloodhound’s nose is different from most dogs. When Peach exhales it [breath] comes out of the sides of her nose so she doesn’t blow the scent away,” Tim said.

Though bloodhounds like Peach have become less popular in finding fugitives, they have adapted. “After the advent of motor vehicles, people thought hounds were done,” Tim noted. “But in criminal cases nowadays, you are going to be able to find where they parked their car.”

Tim and Peach pose with students

And speaking of cars, Tim emphasized the importance of turning off a car at the point a person was last seen. “Protect that spot, keep it clean,” he said.

“Vehicles and exhaust cause problems with scent. Exhaust soaks into the blacktop and ground.” This could make it difficult for Peach to keep the scent.

The students present at Tim’s talk were most impressed by Peach’s ability to locate a missing person in the water.

Tiffany Leszczynski said,“the thing that surprised me was that Peach can find people under water after them being there for a couple of days. Also, that every second we have cells coming off our body that leaves part of us behind and that’s how Peach finds people.”

While the students learned quite a lot from Tim, friendly, slobbery Peach played a big role as well. “My favorite part of the presentation was listening to Tim talk about how successful Peach has been,” Alexis Leahy said. “But seeing Peach was probably my favorite.”

Not only is Peach a great, cute dog, she and Tim are a valuable asset to our community. No one can put a price on finding a missing child or family member, and Tim doesn’t want anyone to have to. “I don’t charge anything at all,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”