Doug Goodman

Texas Horror Writer. Cadaver Dog Handler.

Doug's Blog


Posted by douggoodman on June 20, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I spent a long time grocery shopping yesterday.  I had to stand in line at the pharmacy, I kept criss-crossing the store because I forgot something on the other side, and I spent maybe half an hour looking at tupperware.  I'm a 21st-century kind of guy.  Love looking at tupperware.  But not for the same reason you probably look for tupperware.


Tupperware is ideal for storing Fred.  And I need to be explicit:  I don't mean necessarily Tupperware brand merchandise, but plastic storage containers in general. 


Since I recently received some new Fred, I wanted to get some containers that weren't envelopes and cardboard boxes.  Even when frozen, there is just the risk of contamination.  And working in the field with the dog, there is the risk of contamination.  Admittedly, I didn't worry about contamination so much with my dogs when I knew who and where every scent item was coming from.  Once you start adding inmates and people you've never met into the equation, however, and I want to make sure my dogs can smell the object without touching the object.  Plastic containers are ideal because they have such a thick, solid barrier between the item and the dog.


Steamers Are Best


Ideally, I want something that I can open and let scent out of, yet the dogs can't touch it.  I started out using regular tupperware.  The problem was that once you pull off the lid, the dog can get inside it.  So I looked into pop-a-top tupperware. 


Open Top.  Note the addition

of a "seasoned" residual item. 
In this case, an old sock.


Pop-a-top containers let me open just a part of the lid.  This was much better and made it less likely for the scent item to fall out.  However, if the scent item was tiny (like an umbilical cord), then it could still fall out.  I remember one time crawling through the grass next to a manhole because the umbilical cord fell out.  I went almost blade-by-blade looking for it, and thankfully I found it.  (Yes, I could have used a dog, but no, I didn't want to.  The exercise was over, it was summer, and the pup was winded.)


Pop-a-top, my friend...


So even pop-a-tops have problems.  The best tupperware I have found is a steamer.  Steamers usually have a small hole (less than an eighth of an inch) at one side.  There is a button you press that opens the steamer.  The scent then is carried out of the box (i.e., there is a strong scent indication).   Because the hole is so small, the dog cannot physically touch the item. 


The Kemah Steamer


Yesterday I bought one small steamer cup for the meat slug.  I also bought a large lettuce-storage container.  This is like the "deluxe" cadaver container.  The beauty of the lettuce container is that there are two-fold openings.  There is a small turn device that opens tiny holes in the side of the container.  There is also a lid on the bottom of the lettuce holder that when popped, reveals an entire underside of popped holes.  This is wonderful!  The lettuce container is large enough to hold the blood bag, and it has holes on one side so that the scent can be carried out (not that I should be too worried about the scent being carried - that is one smelly bag that's going in there). 


Lettuce containers: 
Perfect for blood bags

Note the holes in the bottom


Last but not least, I want to add a word of caution.  Just because the scent items are "contained" does not mean handlers should relax their rules when working with scent items.  One slip, and you will get all kinds of nastiness all over you.  It is better to be safe than to be covered in unknown gore. 

Categories: Search and Rescue, Cadaver Dog Sources/Scent Items

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