The paths which cross-crossed the valley between Edinburgh’s Blackford Hill and the Braids Hills provided delightful views for a stroll, and insurance clerk Eric Wilson was enjoying the fresh, cool January air.

The views were delightful: he could see right across Edinburgh, past the Castle and beyond to the Firth of Forth.

But what caught Mr Wilson’s eye on the crisp winter morning in 1911, was something far more disturbing.

Just beyond a wire fence close to a path leading to Morningside, lay the motionless figure of a woman.

Petite, around 30 years old, she was on her side. Her purple cloth jacket - trimmed with three strips of gold braid, lined with vibrant yellow and with a soft velvet collar – peeked out from under her steel grey rainproof coat.

Her blue hat, loosely secured with its four pins, covered her face – thankfully, as it happened - and on her left hand glistened a gold wedding ring.

Thinking she was asleep, Mr Wilson shouted out and rattled the fence. When she failed to stir, his stomach knotted, and he realised she was dead.

Within an hour Professor Harvey Littlejohn, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at Edinburgh University had joined police at the scene. He was no stranger to crime and mystery – his father, Sir Henry Littlejohn, had been a forensic scientist whose student, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, credited him as an inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

What happened next would create something of a stir: Edinburgh City Police called for the dogs.

The episode appears to be one of the first times the capital’s police officers had called for trained dogs to track down a murder suspect.

And even though the two bloodhounds would go on to lead the officers on something of a merry dance across fields and hilly paths, events of the January day in 1911 would help pave the way for more than a century of countless four-legged ‘K9’ friends.

Now in a bid to recognise years of sterling canine dedication to law and order, efforts are underway to raise £35,000 for a permanent memorial to Scotland’s dog detectives.

The GoFundMe page has been set up by serving police dog handler Carrie-Ann McNab. “Every day in Scotland a police dogs helps local communities by finding missing people, criminals, recovering property or sniffing out drugs, cash, firearms of explosives,” she wrote.

“These furry heroes deserve a tribute and somewhere that their handlers and the public can go to remember them.”

In the early 20th century, however, the idea of using dogs to track and help detain criminals was still in its infancy. And while dogs were being increasingly used by police in Europe, there were concerns here that they would not be effective and, worse, might be dangerous.

A string of particularly disturbing crimes in Glasgow in 1908 helped change attitudes.

Serious housebreakings in affluent Pollokshields and Kelvinside during the winter of 1908 had confounded police. “Pressure was also being brought to bear on the Chief Constable to solve the problem by the ‘people of influence’ who lived in these areas,” said Alastair Dinsmor, Curator of the Glasgow Police Museum.

“Lone police officers working the beats in affluent areas were fearful that the gangs who preyed on the large houses would attack them, should they discover them during their patrols. Something had to be done.”

As the year drew to a close, Marion Gilchrist, 82, was found dead in her home at West Prince’s Street in the city, her head “practically smashed to a pulp”.

Suggestions that bloodhounds could track her attacker’s scent reached Captain F.C. Louden in Shropshire. A member of the Association of Bloodhound Breeders, he pointed out that trials on Salisbury Plain saw hounds successfully track a 12-hours old scent over 15 miles – busy Glasgow streets, however, would be impossible.

He took the opportunity current “an erroneous impression which prevails regarding bloodhounds”.

He wrote: “These dogs are perfectly quiet animals, not at all savage as some people imagine, and having found a man after tracking him, instead of tearing him to pieces, would want to fawn around and lick him all over.”

Just over a year later, a letter from another trainer, Major E. H. Richardson of Harrow, Middlesex, paved the way for Glasgow – and the country’s - first police dogs.

His dog, ‘The Executive’ was a cross between an Airedale with Collie – for brains - and a Retriever for its sense of smell, and was being offered to all Chief Constables across Britain as a crime-fighting aid.

A copy of his letter appeared in the Glasgow Herald, prompting The Glasgow Corporation Watching and Lighting Committee to agree for four dogs to be bought for £21.

The first two were posted to ‘F’ or Maryhill Division in June 1910. “One of the dogs was photographed being held by Sergeant Robert Glen, Bar Officer, at the Central Police Office,” said Mr Dinsmor. “Admittedly, the dog does not appear to have the ‘presence’ of the German Shepherd dogs we know today.”

Within weeks by a second pair was brought to work in ‘G’ or Queens Park Division.

“This is the first time that dogs have been utilised in Great Britain as an aid to the police, but their use abroad is not uncommon,” reported The Glasgow Herald.

In East Lothian, accountant Frank Raynor had spent five years training his five bloodhounds. By the time of the Braid Hills murder, however, their most exciting search appears to have been hunting down a poultry thief.

The arrival of the dogs, including one large hound called Warboy, at the Braid Hills crime scene prompted headlines in the local newspaper.

“An unusual development in police investigation work in Edinburgh was the requisition of bloodhounds for the purpose of tracking the assailant," it reported. "No sooner had the hounds been set to work than they went off keenly upon what appeared to be a very hot scent."

Indeed, the search involved a half a mile trudge through Hermitage Woods, crossing open ground, and through the Braid Burn twice. Defeated, the dogs returned to East Lothian.

Despite a £100 reward, whoever strangled 30-year-old Leith mother of two Maria Jane Boyle, would never be found.

It was not a complete failure. "The authorities intend to resume operations with the bloodhounds as they are of the opinion that the possibilities of these agents have not been exhausted,” stated one report.

Despite being the first force to have introduced dogs, it would take until 1953 for the City of Glasgow Police Dog Branch to be formed. And it would be even longer for others: the first police dogs in Dumfries & Galloway, German Shepherds called Kiel and Prince, did not arrive until 1968.

Today Police Scotland’s Dog Unit twitter account, @polscotdogs, has 37,500 followers. While just last month Finn’s Law, named after a stabbed police dog and which prevents attackers of service animals from claiming self-defence, was passed by the Scottish Parliament and will soon become law.