On a recent call about an open door, a K-9 officer arrived to help with the search. As the dog and its handler began the search, one of my squadmates remarked how nice it would be to have some kind of training about K-9 searches. A few weeks later our Sergeant arranged for a training session with the K-9 squad.
A few nights ago, my squad met at a wharehouse after hours. As I parked my patrol car I was assailed by the vicious barking of all the dogs in the backs of the K-9 officer's cars. We sat through a short briefing then went to work with the dogs.
We learned how to position ourselves around the dog handler along with other responsibilities. We were asked to search a few rooms without the dog so they could critique our tactics. After we advised the rooms were "clear", the handler sent in the dog who promplty found one of the other K-9 officers hiding in a small cabinet we had all overlooked.
Next, we watched the dog search a large wharehouse with 30 foot ceilings and very tall metal racks containing construction supplies. After a few minutes, the dog located another actor hiding 15 feet off the ground behind some boxes. Regular officers would never have found him.
We then went outside to practice some tracking scenarios. Two officers walked/ran a few blocks through the neighborhood, crossing streets, walking through bushes, and scaling walls. The dog found their scent immediately and began a faced pace search. We had to run to keep up with the dog and his handler. After a few blocks, the dog suddenly lost the scent and backtracked to where the 'bad guys' had jumped over a fence. The dog could sense them behind the fence and started barking to indicate their location.
For the final tracking session I volunteered to flee from a parked car and hide in a commercial building a few blocks away. I was with a K-9 officer who was wearing a protective padded sleeve on his right arm. Soon, we could hear the dog coming as he bore down on our hiding spot. My heart started racing as the sound of the dog's heavy breathing neared. The dog spotted us and immediately turned into the devil. The handler let him off the lead and he darted toward us full steam ahead. I wedged myself behind a column of the building and let the K-9 officer bear the frontal assault. The dog charged, leapt into the air and clamped his jaws on the padded arm of the officer. He violently shook the officer's arm without realesing his grip. The dog handler approached and coaxed the dog to let go.
At the end of the training session, the handlers asked if any of us would like to be attacked by the dog. We all declined except for the smallest female officer on the squad. She put on the padded arm protector and bravely accepted the dog's onslaught . Reassured that she actually lived, I decided to give it a try.
I put on the thick leather arm sleeve and stood about ten feet away from the shimmering shepard of doom. The dog's fiery eyes were fixed on me and I could sense the surge of killer instinct coursing through his body. The handler let him loose, I swallowed a gulp of anxiety, and braced myself for the oncoming attack. The dog bounded off the ground in one giant leap and slammed into me jaws first. The initial force of the impact was surprisingly strong (especially considering he started from only ten feet away and wasn't able to build up much speed.) When the furry demon started thrashing its head side to side, I expected flames to billow from his snout.
He wanted to make me his bitch and if not for the hardened leather, steel bar reinforced arm protector, I would now be Mrs. Officer Gary. I let go of the sleeve and watched him attempt to shred the the lifeless leather arm on the ground. A moment later, the monster morphed back into dog form when the handler rewarded him with a cloth chew toy.
These dogs' combination of speed, power, agility, and ferocity make them terrifying. I am thankful these trained attack machines are on our side.