Cold Nose

New crime-fighting Karelian dog joins investigative team

By Eve Newman
Boomerang Staff Writer

A new puppy has joined the Cold Nose Investigators team, and soon Nadi — a Karelian bear dog — will be working alongside Moose, Zoe and Josephine, her golden retriever teammates who do everything from wilderness tracking to cadaver, narcotics and pet detection to therapy.

Nadi, who’s now 4 months old, will be trained in bear detection, bear protection, wildlife investigation work and human cadaver work, owner Curt Orde said. Curt and his wife, Cathy, make up the human component of Cold Nose Investigators, a Centennial-based group that travels around the country providing professional canine services free of charge for private citizens and public agencies.

Nadi’s primary work will be bear detection and protection, said Curt. The couple will be spending the summer coordinating campground volunteers throughout the Laramie region of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and Nadi will help alert campers to the presence of bears, helping both campers and bears avoid conflicts. Once fully trained, she’ll chase bears away from human areas, stopping once the bear has left the area.

“That teaches the dog it has to let the bear go, and it teaches the bear that once it gets away from people, it’s in a safe environment, and there’s no need to shoot the bear. It saves both bears and people,” Curt said.

The Ordes acquired Nadi from the Florence, Mont.,-based Wind River Bear Institute. The institute developed a program called Partners in Life, which uses Karelian bear dogs to help bears and people avoid conflicts.

Nadi was selected for bear detection work based on her aptitude and her personality.

“We’re fortunate to have a dog like this in this part of the country, and we really believe she’s going to be an asset to the community, and to bears and any agency that may wish to use her,” Curt said.

The Ordes are also teaching Nadi a skit that they’ll take to schools and community groups to teach people about safe behavior around bears, including never feeding bears.

First, Cathy holds out her hand and Nadi wraps her front paws around the outstretched arm. Then Cathy points her finger and Nadi falls over. Then Nadi rolls over on her back with her feet up, helping illustrate the maxim, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

Practicing the skit earlier this week, Nadi showed she’s still very much a puppy with a short attention span, though she did manage to get through her part with only a few prompts from her owners.

A black and white, high-energy animal, Nadi can already track bear and human scents, and she’s found bear tracks near her home in Centennial. Out in the woods, cars driving along a distant highway will attract her attention, and she loves jumping at moths.

“She would make a good police officer,” Curt said.

“She’s totally aware,” Cathy said.

She’s taken her place as the newbie among The Golden Gang, but after only a couple days of practice and watching Moose, she figured out that she’s supposed to scratch when she finds the scent she’s after. Compared to the very refined golden retriever breed, the Ordes called Nadi a “ruffian,” though a smart one that has attempted to open doors by twisting the knob with her paws.

They described Karelian bear dogs, which originated in Finland, as a wilder breed, evidenced by their desire to dig dens.

“At eight weeks, she already picked up cadaver scent. (With) most dogs you have to ingrain that interest in them and that skill in them. It’s instinctive with her. They’re hunters,” Curt said

Cathy said Moose was ready for action when he was 11 months old. Nadi should progress at a similar rate, meaning they’ll aim to put her to work starting this fall, especially if she gets a whole summer’s worth of practice in the campgrounds.

Her training, like that of her teammates, will be almost daily and will be ongoing, with certification done yearly.

“She’s really amazing to watch,” Cathy said.

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