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Baltimore-area canine sleuths get their own TV series

Tracker Wendy Bauerlien and K9 Trusty take a break during the search for missing puppy, Aspen. In the intense summer heat and humidity, it's important for both tracker and K9 to take frequent breaks. (National Geographic/Anna Krebs)
Tracker Wendy Bauerlien and K9 Trusty take a break during the search for missing puppy, Aspen. In the intense summer heat and humidity, it's important for both tracker and K9 to take frequent breaks. (National Geographic/Anna Krebs) (Anna Krebs / National Geographic/Anna Krebs)

Emma the Chihauhau didn’t realize she was in danger.

There the tiny creature was, running up and down railroad tracks in Frederick not far from where U.S. 70 joins Highway 15, tail wagging, having the time of her life.

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Anne Wills, who runs Dogs Finding Dogs, a nonprofit in Arbutus that helps animal lovers find their lost pets, was determined to catch Emma before she got smooshed.

“Some of the things you’ll see on the show will make you laugh,” Wills said. “And some will melt your heart.”

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Emma is just one of the animals in peril featured on “Trackers,” a new series debuting at 10 p.m. Saturday on the Nat Geo Wild channel. The series focuses on Wills, her human helpers and a pack of sharp-nosed, carefully trained canine rescuers.

A publicist for the show described the series like this in an email:

“’Trackers’ showcases the stories of a dedicated and heroic team of K9s and their handlers as they track and find lost animals. From lost dogs, to cats, to farm animals and even exotic pets, these amazing tracking dogs and their skilled handlers scour the landscape to help reunite the animals with their owners. We will follow the emotional journey of the track from the moment our heroes get the call, to meeting the distraught owners, to heartwarming reunion of animal and owner.”

Dogs Finding Dogs helps Arbutus couple find missing pet

The episodes will air tonight and on the next two consecutive Saturdays: Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.

The series is the culmination of a more than two-year project, Wills said. Producers for the channel first approached her in October 2015, though filming didn’t actually begin until last spring. But once the camera crew showed up, they followed the group’s exploits seven days a week from May through August. Wills said that the crew filmed about 60 searches, then selected about 18 for broadcast.

“There were some comical things that happened,” Wills said. “They caught us crawling through the dirt and tripping over logs. There are also pitiful moments. One of the animals on the show is a little three-legged cat. You’ll see her trying to jump over fences and fend for herself. The woman who rescued the cat didn’t have a lot of money, but she got the community to pitch in to pay to have the cat’s leg amputated and save her life.

“The cat’s name is ‘Hope’.”

Pet owners used to have just a few options when their animals went missing: Call animal control, call the microchip company or turn to an animal psychic. In the Mid-Atlantic, we can add a fourth to the list: Call a dog. Dogs Finding Dogs, a nonprofit organization of highly trained tracking dogs and handlers formed in 2008, stands ready to assist with the search.

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