First off, on behalf of the entire team, we want to extend condolences to team mate Michele, whose grandmother of 94 years passed away this past weekend.  May she rest in peace…

Secondly, there have been some concerns expressed by others that when we are visiting the cemeteries at night, we are trespassing. I would like to take this opportunity to state that the cemeteries are considered to be public parks, and that although their standard hours are from sunrise to sunset, entering after those hours is not trespassing.  I made a point of confirming this with the City.  The only time the public is not permitted to be on the grounds of any of the cemeteries is on Halloween, and that is because the risk of vandalism is so high.  On Halloween, the grounds of all the cemeteries are heavily patrolled by police and security officers.  The clerk I spoke to knows who we are, and with the exception of Halloween, we have full permission to be on the grounds of any of our cemeteries after sunset.

With regard to the research being conducted with my dog, reader Jill Morton asks, “Is this in the best interest of the dog?  Surely the findings are significant, but the thought of the dog being terrorized worry me.”

I would like to reassure Jill and everyone else that the dog is in no danger of being harmed in any way.  Cemeteries are considered to be holy/sanctified/sacred ground.  Therefore, cemeteries are actually much safer for the dog than locations that are not protected in some way. I also take other precautions to ensure my dog is safe:  I keep her on-leash at all times, and I do not get further away from my car than about 200 feet (in case we have to leave in a hurry).  I would never, for any reason, knowingly put my dog – or any other animal, for that matter – in a situation in which they could be harmed.

Documentation shows that when animals see or hear things humans do not, their responses vary from curiosity to fear.  My intention with this research is to first determine whether or not my dog can even sense the presence of spirits or ghosts, and secondly, to learn whether or not specific responses can be taught – e.g. to “point” – when a ghost or spirit presence is detected.

It must be noted that for this research, I am not using a food-reward system, as any potential results would be unreliable due to the uncertainty about whether a response was genuine or treat-driven.  Instead, the desired response is the heel/sit command.  I am also attempting to teach the dog to bark once for “male” and twice for “female”.  There is no documentation suggesting that dogs are unable to learn this specific type of conditioning.

Thank you to everyone who is following this research into the training and use of dogs in the field, and sharing thoughts, questions, and suggestions.  It is sincerely appreciated.  As the research continues, so will the documentation.

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Comments
  1. Gaycanuck says:

    My condolences to Michele as well… that is very sad…

  2. Jill Morton says:

    Thanks so much for your response! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

    Jill Morton

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