Here we will post interesting articles and musings written by our K9 Partners team or borrowed from others.
HOW TO APPROACH A WORKING K-9
By Patricia Kelly
If you are like me, you love animals. All animals.
And there is nothing more appealing than a working K-9. They are the “alpha” of their profession. Watching a K-9 Team work is like watching a well-choreographed dance routine. As with any routine, there is a proper time and place to interrupt.
First off, do not take the kids and run up to the team to pet the dog. Calmly approach the team and ask if it is ok to pet the dog. The handler will determine yes or no. There are several reasons for this:
- The team is on duty if they are out on Patrol.
- Are you interrupting an active investigation? The K-9 could be in the middle of tracking a fugitive, missing child or confused adult.
- There could be a situation in the area that you are unaware of.
Do not be offended if the answer is “no”. They are not being mean and contrary. There will be a legitimate reason. If the handler is ok with the attention, then go ahead and pet the K-9. The dog is the handlers’ best friend and partner, and he/she likes nothing more than to brag about their partner. Make sure the kids treat the dog with respect. If your child is very young, be certain they are not pulling ears or fur.
These rules also apply to adults. Never approach a working dog without asking his handler for permission.
Here’s some examples:
It’s midnight on New Year’s Night. The officer is arresting an inebriated subject. Do not interrupt.
Same night, you see the K-9 Team meandering down the street. You can interrupt.
You see a marked law enforcement K-9 vehicle parked outside a restaurant. The officer is not there. Do not approach the vehicle. You enter the restaurant, eat, and notice that you are leaving the same time the officer is leaving. You can ask about the dog. As long as the officer has not been dispatched to the scene of a crime, the officer will normally take the time to talk to you.
Simply use common sense and remember these are working dogs.
About the Author: Patricia Kelly worked in the Records Department for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office for over 28 years. As a volunteer, she helped to found K-9 Partners in 1995 and managed the non-profit organization. She often observed the dogs during training and in a more relaxed mode. Retired now, she still is working to make K-9 Partners an on-going Nevada charity to benefit the Washoe County Canines who serve and protect our communities.
K9 partners: Why we need those ‘old dogs with badges’
The not-so-normal life of my K-9 partner
By Sergeant Phil Jones, Washoe County (Nev.) Sheriff’s Office
One evening, I was sitting in my front yard with a very good friend and my police dog. My friend — who doesn’t work in our business — made a statement about my police dog, which made me ponder a little.
While I was looking down at my Shepherd lying in the yard, wearing his gold chain with his badge out front, we noticed him staring not so kindly at someone walking by my house.
My friend then said, “Too bad that old dog couldn’t have been just a normal dog, instead of being a police dog.”
As I continued to look at my dog, I thought to myself, what is normal for an old dog with a badge?
It’s true that over the years he has missed out on many social gatherings due to being called out — or already being at work. He is way more comfortable in small groups and likes people in front of him, not to his six.
He has started disliking people walking near his house uninvited at night. He has never liked anyone on his lawn or playing with his toys — except other cops. When the doorbell rings, he gets a little angry, as he doesn’t like to be disturbed too much at home.
Besides these job-related behaviors, it is a fact that he has many times had to take a bath when getting off work, as he has gone many places that are just not clean enough to bring home to the family. There are times when he has slept through the entire day, as the nights and days sometimes run together. He’s not really welcome at the public parks.
He tries hard, but old dogs with badges lose some of their people skills with time on the job. Maybe my buddy was right: not very normal.
Then I thought, “What is normal?”
In his career — unlike other old dogs — he has gotten to ride in police cars with his head in a 100 MPH breeze. He still gets excited at the sound of someone on the radio who needs help, or when the siren goes on. He’s been loaded in armored cars and been flown in helicopters of all sizes.
He has seen larger amounts of illegal drugs than most normal people think exist. He has helped some people by finding them when they were lost or scared. He has made other cops feel safer by being the one to go first.
He has been lowered on a cable from high above to the ground. He hated the ride down, but knew the game began when he was on the ground. He was lucky enough to work with many other great cops who were happy to have him by their side. He has been on out on the front line hunting real evil — not for the pay, but because it is what he signed up to do when he was a young cop with a badge.
Heck with it, he is normal as he could be, with the life he chose.
Deep in thought, I did not notice he had moved in front of my chair, looking right at me. As he looked at me, I wondered if he thought I was normal.
Maybe, but we are just a couple “old dogs with badges.”
If we could do it all over, neither of us would change a thing.
Train hard, stay safe, and try to learn from old dogs with badges.
K-9 TEAM DUTIES
When you spot a law enforcement K-9, do you ever think to yourself, “I wonder what they do”?
K-9 Teams are an exclusive and unique group of law enforcement professionals. Both the K-9 Officer and the K-9 itself receive specialized law enforcement training and certification, with the training and certification having to be retested every few years. While the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are the most common breeds used by our local law enforcement agencies, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinchers, and Bloodhounds are used nationwide. Bloodhounds, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers and other “scent” breeds are used to detect illegal substances, detect cadavers, and find explosives.
- Below is a list of a few duties performed by our local teams:
- Discover illicit drugs, explosives, chemicals and other illegal substances.
- Find and rescue missing and endangered persons. For example lost children or confused elderly.
- Track and apprehend fugitives fleeing from the law.
- Discover cadavers that have been buried or left in the wilderness.
- Locate evidence from crime scenes.
- Perform routine searches of jails, public facilities: ( schools, recreation areas, airports, bus stations, special local events).
- Inspect vehicles.
- Deter criminals who might otherwise confront or assault an officer or innocent bystander. Identify people who have been in contact with illegal drugs and controlled substances.
Continuous training is hard on both the handler and the K-9: They train regularly in water rescue and apprehension. Anyone who has spent any length of time in the water knows hours of walking and swimming is hard work. They practice tracking in every type of weather conditions, rain, snow, high winds, and high heat. Fugitives, missing persons, and search and rescue work is not always conducted during optimal weather conditions. If the agency has aircraft, as the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office does, the handler and K-9 train descending from a line with the K-9 attached to the handler. The K-9 has to be trained within the aircraft, descending and safely landing attached to the handler. Protection training is on-going. Both the handler and the K-9 need to have confidence and trust in each other. The working life of a K-9 is six to seven years.