1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

Maddie: The Dogs and the (cuddle) Cat… Questions of Smell…

by: Paulo Sargento*

On the 6th of September, weekly Expresso published an exclusive interview with the McCann couple, with headlines that claimed, in direct speech, through Kate’s voice: “Gonçalo Amaral is a disgrace!” Twenty four hours earlier, the British daily The Sun presented an excerpt of the videos with the famous dogs (trained to react in the presence of human blood and cadaver odour, we recall) reacting in a particular manner under certain circumstances, namely in locations where the McCanns were, or to objects that had been in contact with the family (for example, the famous pink cuddle cat). These videos made the rounds in all tv stations and generated some upset.

Let’s ask: how are both situations related? Well, the time proximity may lead to suppose that, like we have stated in earlier occasions, these are situations that can be compared with guerrilla fights. I open a parenthesis to affirm that I am certain of the tolerance and good sense that are recognized in Dr Gonçalo Amaral, which continue to give him the strength and the wisdom to resist, along with his family, to this guerilla that will only intensify the confusion that is installed already.

What does this mean? It was to be presumed that after the process was made public there would be a tendency from the media to try to value some indicia that sustain the homicide and cadaver concealment theory, and that the response to that tendency would be translated into attacks on the Polícia Judiciária’s technical competence, and especially the devaluation of indicia without forensic corroboration.

Within this perspective, it did not surprise me that the reports were published almost simultaneously and that for the McCann couple, the criteria to interpret and explain the behaviour of the dogs were exclusively measured by these animals’ incompetence, supposedly proved by one single US study. Of course it is an argument, but once again, the argument of authority has prevailed over the authority of the argument. Is one single US study enough to devalue what the images have shown? Probably, the forensic artist who drew the photofits was also part of the team… (forgive me the irony)

It could also be confirmed, just like I had insisted, despite the legitimate and honest explanations from my dear friend Dr Rogério Alves during a debate on SIC Notícias in late July, that the couple had refused to “return to Portugal for the reconstitution” (in Expresso, Sept 9, 2008, page 25).

More recently, on the 14th of September, British tabloid “News of the World” announces, on the front page, the publication of “Kate’s Diary, in her own words” and advances an exclusive that will present, “for the first time, the devastating TRUTH that destroys the Portuguese police’s lies”. Competing with the usual appealing images of Britney Spears, Rachel Stevens and Danii Minogue, the front page presents a photo of Kate McCann with a sad and worried expression, which supposedly would anticipate the details of her agony that the diary would expose.

In reality, across four pages of the tabloid, with some photographs that illustrated the strong emotions, Kate’s diary was published and commented under the perspective of a mother in understandable despair. The comments followed the logics of the abduction theory, and in consequence carried out a violent attack on the Portuguese Polícia Judiciária, which is accused, among other things, of cruelty.

But why am I telling you this? Because following the supposedly incompetent olfactory work done by the dogs, on the 12th of July 2007, Kate registers the following in her diary: “Today I washed the Cuddle Cat. I was hoping not to have to do it until Madeleine returns, but it was now quite dirty and smelly, unfortunately without the smell of Madeleine on it” (News of the World, Sept 14, 2008, page 6).

This passage is admirable, when compared to the notion that the dogs’ role had to be diminished in the process!!!

The figure of cuddle cat has always claimed my attention in the Maddie case. Right at the beginning, I remembered a famous British paediatrician, Donald Winnicott, who attributed particular importance to toys (or other objects) that gain a special value for children in very precocious phases of their lives. These objects, which the paediatrician called transitional, are invested with particular passion by the children, or even with addiction, for possessing symbolic characteristics of safety, comfort, care and other qualities that emanate from the mother figure. It is almost always the mother who offers, or promotes, this relationship of passion with the object. Therefore, when she is absent or when the children, for example, go to bed or to nursery school, they absolutely need to enjoy the company of these objects. That is the only way that they can endure those moments. We all remember when our children could only sleep if they were hugging their soft toy.

But that object gradually loses that symbolic dimension, as new relational meanings emerge. Nevertheless, while the passion and the addiction over that object last, all its qualities should be maintained. One of them, very important: the scent. Who has never witnessed a child’s tantrum because she does not want her soft toy to be washed, even preferring it to remain dirty and smelly?

That’s right. I have never managed to understand who the pink cuddle cat belonged to…

But I’m certain of one thing: it’s a lot more important than it seems.

Even after being washed, when Kate could not feel Maddie’s scent anymore, and placed, untouched, in the little bed where it slept, the dogs felt a presence.

I finish for the day with a sentence by Professor José Pinto da Costa (whom I was honoured to be a student of) that was spoken during the aforementioned debate: “I see that I still have a lot to learn about those sniffer dogs’ biology”.

source: Câmara de Comuns, September 20, 2008

* criminal psychologist, university professor and author


  1. wow....interesting....maybe Madeleine was still attatched to the toy because she had little human comfort...On holiday we all do our best to make it a time to ememeber, we let our children enjoy things and situations we would not normally allow, if the McCanns were being more relaxeed than normal one has to wonder what they were like at home.

  2. Very interesting read.....My one question....Why wash Cuddle Cat, and would I really worry about it being dirty and smelly....because amongst all that dirt there would be the precious smell of my child. This is the question that many of my friends ask too.

  3. Joana,

    Don't know what is going on with the comments, but, if you ask my opinion (which you haven't), I would say that the "old" way of commenting was better. Please take it as constructive criticism, and if you prove me wrong, I most certainly will not behave like the McCanns and throw you The Sun & Associated Tabloids, Inc. plus a Clarence Mitchell... lolol

    To this topic: when we go on holiday its naturalto bring the least amount of toys possible. Probably the pink cuddle cat (PCC) was the only toy she brought along to Portugal (add one for each twin, and you get 3 toys, plus beach/pool toys... and you see where I'm getting). She was probably playing with/holding it when she was killed, and probably lay with the cadaver in its initial stages of decomposition.

    For the parents, it became an excellent marketing tool to bring foward their message of innocence and saintlyhoodness. And it worked. I have yet to see a picture od Madeleine Beth and the referred toy (the most expensive probably stayed home).

    The washing, I could compare it with the desperate unsucessful try to wash the guilt out of one's conscience, but I won't. I'll just picture in the back of my mind, a black and white picture from Hitchcock where the alucinated murderer appears before the audience with those alucinated wide open eyes, where, although alone, the whole theatre knows how gulty he/she is...

    Yours truly

  4. joana reconsider new commenst...the same commenst on all stories...its hard to get in to....[pls retrun to old/

  5. Very interesting, among which the sentence "I have never managed to understand who the pink cuddle cat belonged to". I am not sure if it ever was the little girl's transitional object (It seems she had a blanket). Obviously it became the transitional object of the mother, at least for the cameras. Several times I thought that the mother was unconsciously reversing the roles, she being the daughter and Madeleine being the mother as when she left the child to keep the house and children at night, and went out like a naughty teen-ager claiming her freedom. Or as when she explained how the child had scolded them for not coming to comfort the twins when they cried at night. Apparently, she also asked Madeleine to come back in her diary, saying she needed her.

  6. speak your mind,

    Gerry confirmed Madeleine's favourite comforter was a bright pink blanket ... in one of Jane Tanner's several, varying accounts she allegedly witnessed a child being carried in a blanket.

    Clinging onto laundered cuddle cat on which cadaver odour was, nevertheless, confirmed by Eddie prevented forensic examination.

    As opposed to webs of lies and deceit, truth is always straightforward, based for the most part on common sense.

  7. anonymous - 23.21

    Laundering cuddle cat was one of countless examples people find extraordinarily 'odd' about the McCanns, as parents and human beings.
    They say one thing and do the exact opposite; 'excuses' are always implausble or 'abnormal'.

  8. Textusa,

    The 'alterations' to Joana's site are the results of Mitchell's threats
    declared in the British press.

    Since then, the same has been applied to Mr Amaral & Correio da Manha, both of whom acknowledged Mitchell's aims for a 'wall of silence' (on protectionists behalf - government). The use of the monitoring unit for 'rebuttal' is fully explained in Adam Boulton's book.

  9. Criminal psychologists, as a matter of course, consider and weigh up each and every potential motive.

    For example, given the overwhelming evidence of death and disposal - evidenced based conclusions available to criminal psychologists via Mr Amaral's testimony/PJ Reports,
    did it benefit Kate to prevent forensic examination of an article confirmed to contain cadaver odour? Yes it did.

    Kate's emotional need to keep hold of the object was eradicated by the 'happy, joyous' photos taken shortly after reporting her child missing, namely the 'marketing of tee shirts' etc.

    For the sake of the twins, child psychologists would definitely advise 'closure' and a return to normality out of the limelight. They have suffered the loss of a beloved older sister and a 'soap opera' ever since. The latter is potentially very damaging in the long term.

  10. Textusa,

    Whilst the 'substantial' 15 component match to Madeleine's DNA confirmed the specimens were hers,
    no blood specimens were reportedly confirmed by Keela on the 'one item of Madeleine's clothing, two of Kates and cuddle cat.

    It's fair to conclude that blood - reportedly washed/scrubbed away in lounge and parents bedroom - spilled onto Madeleine's clothing at the time the blood loss occurred. Despite efforts to eliminate evidence, blood was found and analyzed.

    If the incident occurred the night of Madeleine's distress, it's safe to conclude her pyjamas or night attire 'disappeared' along with her.

  11. anonymous - 08.25

    3 year old's do not 'scold' parents, especially the morning after the night before - it was clarrie spin.
    Mrs Fenn heard one child - Madeleine - the twins remained as comatozed as the night the police were called.

    All's forgotten with a 3 year old as soon as they're reassured. If, as was strongly suspected, the McCanns did sedate their children to prevent them waking in their absence, Kate is the most likely administer as a trained anaethetist. Madeleine awoke and was heard crying for 1 hr 15 mins by Mrs Fenn - this obviously wasn't as McCanns expected. It was also widely reported that they were at Chaplins a considerable distance away when it occurred.

  12. As a matter of course, Professor Jose Pinto da Costa would have fully prepared himself prior to any debate.

    The 100% success rate of Eddie & Keela, methods of training/biology and application in homicide cases are readily available.

  13. To all of you who feel sorry for the McCann's
    1 ) Why is Madeleine missing in the first place ?
    2 ) Why did the McCann's not corporate with the police ? Who did a very good job, but was hindered in their investigations by the McCann's.
    3 ) Why did the McCann's delete their phone records on their mobile phones ?
    4 ) Why did the McCann's not go and look for the " missing " child them self?
    5 ) Why Kate run to the tapas bar 120 m away when she could have gone looking for the " missing " child and used her mobile phone to call Garry ?
    6 ) Why did she as the first words say they have taken her ? How would she know she was taken ?
    7 ) Why did they call Sky News as a priority instead of helping the police ? Such caused a media circus and made the police investigations very difficult.
    8 )
    9 ) Why did Kate refuse to answer the 48 questions ?
    10) Why did they spend the money from trust fund made for Madeleine on expensive living and their private mortgage ?
    11) Why the billboard ?
    In a investigation it is all about eliminating possible suspects, and the McCann's did not want to be eliminated, if they did, then they would have worked with the police to the fullest.
    12) Their is not one shred of evidence that Madeleine was abducted.


Powered by Blogger.