McDONOUGH,Ga. --Bill Hilsman sees real potential in Tess, his 2-year-old German Shepherd who already has a good track record as a trailing dog.

"Some dogs you really have to work," Bill said."She's coming around pretty easy."

Tess and Bill werehonored last week for a life-saving search on September 11.

It started with a call from Henry County Police, who said they needed help finding Julia Palmer, a 16-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

Juliahad wandered away from home ataround 6 a.m.

"You have to get a scent article, some clothing the little girl's had on that no one's touched,"Billsaid.

He gave Tess some jeans to sniff, then they took off toward a creek behind the family's home.

"We went on up the creek and got away from the water," he said. "Tess picked the scent back up and followed her to where she was sleeping in some hard woods on the hillside."

It took 90 minutes for Tess to find Julia when no one else could. She was safe.

"Oh, it makes me feel proud,"Bill said."It makes you feel proud because you train a lot."

Bill and Tess received a special commendation from Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols last week.

Bill is a retired Delta mechanic who now volunteers with the Georgia Piedmont Region K-9 Search & Rescue, a nonprofit group that works with law enforcement across metro Atlanta.

"It's not about one person and one dog, it's about teamwork," Bill said.

Teamwork and training that saves lives.

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