LEWISTON — Sometimes, a cop follows his nose. Other times, it's a dog doing the sniffing, and the cop just follows along.
Such was the case early Wednesday when a police dog named Ailos followed a mile-long scent and found an 82-year-old man lying in the grass next to a snowmobile trail.
The man, who suffers from Alzheimer's, was treated for hypothermia and returned to his home.
The search began at about 5 a.m. when a woman called police to report that her father had wandered off sometime during the night.
Several officers responded. Among them was Lewiston police officer Jason Nadeau who was accompanied by his police-trained tracking dog.
Ailos was able to pick up the missing man's scent near his Fox Run Trailer Park home, police said. From there, the dog kept sniffing and Nadeau kept following.
The track brought the searchers to a snowmobile trail off Sabattus Street. The missing man was found in the grass about 250 feet from the road, police said. He had wandered just over a mile before collapsing to the ground.
Later Wednesday, other officers were singing the praises of Nadeau and his dog with the amazing snout. Nadeau was quiet about his own role in the rescue, they said, but he was more than happy to brag about his dog.
"It just goes to show the importance of the K-9s and their handlers," said Androscoggin County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Slivinski. "Ailos and Jason are one of several great teams in the area."
Police administrators also were happy with the results. Recoveries like this are why officer-dog teams are good to have on the department, they said.
"As an agency, we are very proud of both officer Nadeau and Ailos," Deputy Chief James Minkowsky said. "It's obvious that the extensive training and years of experience with this team was a crucial element in a successful track and a happy ending."