In researching my latest novel Silent Partner, I found myself immersed in the police K9 training world. I wanted to create a main “cop” character that was also a K9 unit. This was a challenge, but I felt that it made for an interesting storyline and added another dimension to the plot.
There are a few misconceptions about police dogs. The most common one is that these dogs are mean and vicious. That’s completely false. Most of these dogs are family dogs when they’re not working. They are loving, friendly, loyal, and love their doggie toys and humans just like any other dog.
These dogs are first run through what’s called the “courage test” to make sure that they are indeed balanced and have the disposition to become a police patrol dog. Not all dogs pass this test. The ones that don’t pass still go to good homes as a family or security dog. The next step is that these dogs are run through general obedience and agility training. Once these dogs are trained and matched with a human partner, the real training and bite work begins. All these dogs are rewarded their favorite toy after each bite during training. It’s all about fun for them.
I found myself mesmerized watching these courageous dogs train with their partners. With the different personalities of police officers, there are different personalities of dogs as well. I loved to see new K9 units begin their training and evolve into an efficient, impressive, crime fighting team. The bond that develops between police officer and dog is like no other. The loss of a K9 partner is deep and lifelong.
Many of these patrol dogs are cross-trained for scent work, such as tracking, narcotics or bomb detection. I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the 160-hour narcotic training course with my highly driven Labrador retriever Trucker. It was an experience that I will not likely forget. We learned as a team to detect heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. We searched locations such as cars, warehouses, trailers, houses, outdoor vicinities, prisons, schools, and many other types of structures.
I would strongly recommend for anyone interested in how police K9 works is to watch a local police K9 demonstration or attend a police K9 competition.
Check out Silent Partner and find out how I’ve incorporated these fearless heroes in the story.