N.C. State University professor Cat Warren said it all started with a German Shepherd puppy.
Solo was an unruly, smart dog with a lot of energy. Her trainer recommended that she harness his energy by training him to become a cadaver dog. Fast forward more than seven years later and together they've helped many people along the way, as well as local law enforcement.
Warren said she trains Solo, now 10 years old, once a week by hiding various scents in mason jars. It normally takes him just a few minutes to crisscross through a large Durham stadium and alert her of his finds.
"A dog of his experience, finding parts per million, or small drops of blood, or even dried bone or teeth aren't a problem," said Warren. "I describe this as a serious hobby" she said laughing.
Warren said she often teams up with the Durham Sheriff's Office whenever she's needed. They have their own K9 unit. Dreyfus, in particular, is one of their young stars. He's three years old and can find cadavers, bombs, and guns.
"It's mind-blowing half the time to watch him. I love training" said Brad Kirby, a deputy with the Durham County Sheriff's Office.
Kirby is Dreyfus' handler and said he's invaluable to the county's day to day operations.
A dog's nose is a powerful and invaluable tool for finding missing bodies. But to them it's all just a game. Little do they know the lives they're changing in the process.
Warren wrote a book about her experiences. It's called "What the Dog Knows."