Shelter Dog Turns Sherlock Holmes

Things weren't looking good for this high-engery Basset Hound-mix puppy without a home.

By | Posted: February 4, 2014, 2 p.m. PST

When Dino, a young Basset Hound mix, was relinquished to the San Francisco Animal Care and Control things didn’t look promising for the high-energy, untrained pup.

Fortunately, one family’s loss meant another pet’s gain. Almost three years later, Dino would become a tracking dog to help find lost pets from his forever-home base in San Leandro, Calif. Since making his super sleuth debut, Dino has searched for more than 480 missing dogs and cats, a wayward tortoise and a hedgehog.

Rescue Dog

After his uncertain start at the shelter, Dino was taken in by Grateful Dogs Rescue, which set about finding a home for him. The exuberant dog would require a home that could accommodate him.

Jackie Phillips of San Leandro, Calif. saw something special in Dino. "When I saw his photo on the Petfinder website, I knew I wanted him,” she said.

Phillips arranged to meet 1-year-old Dino and a Grateful Dogs volunteer at a dog park. "I brought Scout, my 12-year-old dog, to see if they would get along, and they began playing right away,” Phillips says. "On December 23, 2006, Dino came for a home visit and never left.”

Phillips began training her new dog right away. "He had no manners, and never learned to accept people touching him,” Phillips says.  But Phillips stuck with Dino and soon he was passing obedience tests and racking up titles.

In June 2008, Phillips and Dino attended a pet detective seminar in San Jose, Calif. which changed everything. "He did so well that I started my own pet detective business in February 2009,” Phillips says. "Our first assignment sent us searching for Buck, a 10-pound Japanese Chin who left home 10 days earlier.”

Dino smelled Buck’s dog bed. Philips said "Search,” and Dino put his nose to the ground and headed up a canyon trail.

On a 6-foot leash with Phillips and Buck’s owner behind him, Dino pursued the trail for three hours. "Suddenly, I spotted Buck next to a fence,” Phillips says. "When the owner called her dog, and he ran into her arms, I felt ecstatic.”

Dino’s reward? "His favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Phillips says. "If it’s fun, Dino will do anything, and he’s the best.”

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