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Moonshine the bloodhound is on the trail
Moonshine and his partner Chuck Jones are part of a tracking team available for the community. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal
When an elderly man with dementia wandered away from his Turlock convalescent home and efforts to find him proved fruitless, the call for Moonshine was put out.
No, not the still-brewed liquor. The call was for Moonshine, the search and rescue bloodhound.
Moonshine and his partner, Chuck Jones, are the sole team behind the non-profit Golden State Bloodhound Search and Rescue Foundation and are a new tool for local law enforcement agencies in their search for lost individuals.
“We’re here for the community to help whomever needs us,” Jones said.
The 14-month old bloodhound has been specially trained to track people, and even though Moonshine wasn’t needed to find the elderly man, (he returned home on his own volition), Jones said when Moonshine puts his nose to the ground, next to nothing can deter him from his course of work.
“When it’s work time, he’s all business,” Jones said.
Outside of work, Moonshine enjoys a good belly rub and a roll in the grass like any other dog, but as soon as Jones puts on his harness he’s focused on one task — find the person.
Everything about Moonshine, and all bloodhounds in general, is designed for tracking. Their long, big noses have 300 million smell receptors, compared to  the around 400 humans posses.
“The way I like to describe it is when we cook spaghetti, we smell the sauce, but Moonshine smells the oregano, the garlic, the basil, and all the ingredients that go into it,” Jones said. “That’s how fine his smelling abilities are.”
Even his drooping ears, loose skin, and wrinkly face aid in his tracking. The long ears drag the ground and funnel the smell up. The wrinkles keep the scent trapped around his nose and his loose skin allows him to wiggle into tight spaces without getting cut, Jones said.
And then there’s the slobber.
“It is the most disgusting, sticky, slimy stuff and it ends up everywhere,” Jones said. “But it does serve a purpose.”
Those slimily strings of slobber rehydrate the dead skin cells bloodhounds use to track, freshening up the scent, Jones said.
Moonshine was donated to the community through the Child Protection Education of America. Jones and the foundation’s executive board keep the program funded through donations, fundraising and grants.
The foundation is holding a fundraiser with the equestrian unit of the Modesto Police Department. The “Woofs and Hoofs Hoedown” is a dinner dance that will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Durrer Old Barn in Modesto. Tickets are $40 and include a steak dinner with all the trimmings. A live band will provide the night’s entertainment.
People can see Moonshine in action at the Turlock Police Department’s Open House and Safety Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Moonshine will stage a search demonstration at 11:30 p.m. and will be on hand all day.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the foundation can send them to:
Golden State Bloodhound Search and Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 577673, Modesto, CA 95357. For tickets to the dinner and dance, call 652-6209.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.