Countless years, we have all watched certain T.V. shows and movies which have shown a police officer with his most trusted friend and companion, which is a canine. I am sure most dog lovers have watched the movie ‘Turner and Hooch’ starring Tom Hanks as Detective Turner and Beasley the Dog as Hooch. The synopsis of this movie is that Turner’s friend was murdered by a thug and his dog, Hooch was the sole witness to that incident. So turner brings him home in order to solve the case with his help and the dog shows its scent and face recognition capabilities to catch the criminal. Likewise, the K9 : P. I. series stars James Belushi and his partner Jerry Lee, the dog, who assists him in sniffing up drugs. Although Tin-Tin is not in the police, his dog Snowy assists him in all his adventures. Even Dogmatix, Obelix’s pet in the comic series Asterix protects his master and his friends now and again from miscreants. All such movies, comics and cartoons show us, although in a comical way, that our very beloved pet dogs are a very important part of protecting us. Dogs have become an integral part of the criminal justice system over the past centuries. Starting from chasing and catching a criminal to locating drugs and bombs, dogs play a big part in our everyday security. In India, the Chhatisgarh police has recently planned to train street dogs along with pedigree dogs to assist them on Naxal based operations. Talks about training street dogs in all cities for security purposes are going on.
No one is sure exactly when humans domesticated dogs, but one thing is for certain, dogs and humans have been working side by side for years. Even before the B.C. era came into being, dogs were kept as pets and protectors. They fought wars side by side humans and were trained to be guards in service to Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians. They were even used during both the World Wars. Whether the dog is trained in guide work, search and rescue, bomb detection, or narcotics detection, modern training methods have made the application and institution of these four-legged crime fighters more reliable throughout their time of service. A Police Officer encounters both dangerous and potentially fatal situations on a regular basis and apart from having firearms, they are equipped with less lethal tools. Police service dogs fall under that category. Suspects are more likely to surrender in the presence of a dog due to the psychological effects of the dog being present. Military personnel and law enforcement officers alike utilize canines as companions and partners in the field due to their strength and attributes of loyalty and courage, which complement that of his handler. These dogs stay with their handlers like pets. They are properly cared for and trained before they are taken into the field.
K9s begin training at a very young age, in most cases at about six weeks old. The training starts with learning a task as simple as retrieving a tennis ball and as the ball comes toward him he is told “Get your dope,” associating that phrase with play time. As the dog moves up in age and maturity, the tennis ball or towel is then scented with the smell of drugs or explosives but the same phrase is used to reinforce the “play drive.” As the dog continues in his training the “toy” is hidden out of sight and the dog is brought in to “find his dope” at this time he will begin sniffing for his toy. After a successful alert the dog is praised by his handler and rewarded with play time. Bite work is very important to agencies so the K9 can assist in apprehending a fleeing suspect and so that he may also protect the handler. The dog is trained very young to bite only the things he is told to.
I think it is an incredible experience to have not only a partner on the job, but also a companion in the home because a K-9 officer does not only have the responsibility of controlling their dog in the field, but also when they go back home after work. The dog becomes a part of their family now and forever. K-9 partners frequently work nights and weekends, and they have to be ready to respond to emergency situations with little or no notice. Even when the dog eventually retires, which is usually after eight to ten years of duty, it still remains a part of the family of its handler.
Common dog breeds like German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Beagle, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Pitbulls etc., that we keep as pets in our homes, make good police dogs because they are big in size, strong, good runners, have a thick coats that can protect them from harsh weather conditions and they have a lot of heart—these dogs wants to be of help. Though tired or even hurt, they will keep going. Speaking at a personal level, I have a Doberman who is a darling. But even if I am out for a midnight stroll with her, no one dares to come near me or pass a comment at me. She may not have been trained as a service dog, but she is born with the intent to protect her owner.