White Sands Missile Range Missile Dogs
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White Sands Missile Range Missile Dogs

Dingo, a Weimaraner, and Count, a German Shorthair, were the famous Missile Dogs of White Sands, working with John and Cynthia Guzevich, owners of Joh-Cyn Kennels in Las Cruces.

Small missile parts needed to be recovered after firing in order to analyze reasons for success or failure. Before the Range Instrumentation Development Division began the dog program in 1961, ground-recovery crews spent countless hours searching the desert for a rocket part, which had often buried itself in the sand upon impact.

For up to a year before firing, important components of a missile were sprayed with squalene, a shark-liver oil that the dogs could smell from hundreds of feet away. After a missile firing, radar pinpointed the general impact area and the dog team was sent out for recovery. Dingo and Count were trained to search out the scent object and to stay on course until it was tracked down, without being distracted by desert wildlife.

The Guzevich team worked with the dogs everyday, in all types of weather: intense heat, snow or wind. Cynthia Guzevich created special terrycloth jackets for the dogs, with pockets to hold ice cubes and cool the dogs during the summer.

With a 96% recovery rate, the program was so successful that other military and scientific agencies requested their services. Dingo and Count recovered several test devices for the Atomic Energy Commission near Albuquerque and in Tonopah, Nevada.

The program was discontinued in 1965. There had been eight dogs in the program, but Dingo and Count were the first and the best of the Missile Dogs at White Sands Missile Range – one of the most interesting sidelights in missile development and testing done at the range.

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