Doggone Smart Advances in technology training forge K9 bonds

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Doggone Smart: Advances in training forge K-9 bonds

— Mike Marshowsky remembers he first started as a K-9 unit He was on a traffic stop and his partner, a Malinois named Django, was him there were drugs in the

The problem? Marshowsky didn’t see any The vehicle was spotless with an unopened sandwich, chips and a in the center console.

“I was thinking, dog, he’s alerting to here and there’s not drugs,” said, before walking back to his police cruiser. “I the guy, why do you think my dog alerted and he I don’t know there’s in there.”

But something was still Marshowsky, so he got permission to run Django the inside of the vehicle.

Django right to the man’s water and nudged his nose against it. called a nose press, and a police K-9’s way of telling his that something is wrong the item or that it contains

Marshowsky picked up the seemingly Aquafina bottle and found it hid a secret compartment under the where the man had stored marijuana.

looked at Django and shook his

“He’s taught me more being an officer than all the I have under my belt,” said. “He’s made a out of me 100 times, he’s that I just can’t get enough of

Humble Beginnings

Marshowsky is of the Elko Police Department’s K-9 a professionally trained entity uses police dogs to with anything from to narcotics, to building searches, to and other law enforcement work.

The five-dog Elko Police K-9 works closely with the County Sheriff’s K-9 unit to and develop their K-9 partners’

The Elko Police unit in the 1970s as an extra activity officers could do within the Back then, they their own dogs and paid to do the themselves.

“It was just something you could do if you wanted to,” said. “It wasn’t really

But in 2004, the department received a to purchase and train its first police dog, Django.

For and the rest of the five-dog unit, training starts at just 6 old when breeders play them using a small of leather that they around on a rod. When the catches it, they are rewarded a game of tug-of-war.

Not every is fit for K-9 duty, said officer Lowry, who is part of the Elko unit.

“These dogs have to be so Lowry said. “Only out of every 100 dogs will as a police dog.”

Police are often bred and initially in Europe before being to the U.S. for additional training in a such as narcotics detection or (The Elko K-9s from Czechoslovakia, Germany and the and respond to commands in their languages.)

By the time officers their dog, they’ve been through a year or of training before they their initial two-week K-9 and certification.

An average police dog Europe with law enforcement in the U.S. is going to cost from $8,500 to $15,000 on their abilities and breeding, to Marshowsky.

“It’s really for a person here in the United to train a dog from a puppy,” said. “The $8,500 may like a lot of money for a dog but if you’re the that fed the dog for a year, cleaned the for a year, paid all its vet bills for a and you spent three hours a day for the year training that you break it down and you probably money.”

Now that the Elko K-9 unit is established and running, says they’re able to and train their own dogs In fact, officer Keith works with Belgian Zelgium, who is the offspring of Marshowsky’s

All this breeding, training and is focused on one thing: effective K-9 who can not only lead to suspects, but protect officers when even if the officers sometimes err on the side of safety for their

“These dogs are just We love them,” Marshowsky “One of the big things that in some of the K-9 units is sort of because they love dogs so much that put themselves in danger more putting their dogs in but they’re a really great


In the last decade, and technology advances have the capabilities of many of the nation’s K-9

Lowry notes that in animal psychology and neurology made their way into law training.

Officers are now expected to abreast of studies that them refine conflict tactical approaches, instinctual and detection.

In Elko, advancements just about training. can now get a dog to an officer who is in trouble as well as get a dog out of a that’s too hot.

Elko uniforms are equipped with a popper” — basically a more pager — that can open the side door to let the K-9 out. The will automatically go looking for partner and pull a suspect off of if necessary, Marshowsky said.

for apprehension or in a fight,” Lowry “If someone is on top of me and beating on me he can come out and them. If we let that dog out people scatter or stop what doing. It’s very

People seem to be much afraid of the threat of a dog coming them than even a Lowry said, so it rarely necessary to send a dog out of a car.

“I can be pointing a gun at someone and they still be talking back, but if I them I’m going to send my dog them they seem to do they’re told,” Lowry

The K-9 police vehicles are also with temperature gauges will help notify an if a dog is in danger in a hot vehicle.

First, it page an officer, then it roll a window down, the lights and horn will go and if the dog is still locked in a dangerously hot it will finally pop the door to let the dog out if necessary.

The unit only has vehicles equipped for K-9s, but have five dogs. If need to all be out on a scene it can be difficult to get there, Elko Police Will Lehmann said.

One of the the department purchased came seizure funds from a bust instigated by Marshowsky’s Lehmann said.

“We can use seizure to help with the dogs and equipment, so they fund a lot of own work,” Lehmann said.

The work with other like bullet-resistant vests, keeps them safe their work days.

To up on developments in the industry, K-9 officers go to week-long refresher training and with other K-9 officers in each day during their

“It’s a lot of work, but we’re all passionate about what we do and these dogs are just so fun to work with,” Lowry

Part of the Family

The dogs in the Police K-9 unit work sometimes putting in overtime on busts and physically demanding during the day. But when get home, they’re family.

Jason Checkettz’s 4-year-old Malinois Niels wrestles and on the floor with his 5-year-old Lowry’s 5-year-old Dutch Duchess enjoys romping in the yard. And Marshowsky’s Django is more than three away from him at any time.

is my best friend. He’s with me,” Marshowsky “When I go in to take a shower he and waits for me to get out. I’ve him all around the country for training. we ride on airplanes he gets to up front with me. Since I got him in the only time I was away him was when I went on vacation to for a week and it was like a mother the baby.”

The kind of bond between human and canine is so strong that looking at can be especially difficult.

Django some of his teeth a few years and hasn’t been able to a bite, so he had to retire from and tracking, but he still works at narcotics detection.

While does have his other Donatella, to work with, he he’s really not sure Django will be ready to completely.

The main reason? still darn good at his

Marshowsky was training with and officers from both the Police and Sheriff’s K-9 unit Deputy Doug Fisher hid marijuana in the battery compartment of a and put it in a janitor’s closet for Marshowsky and to find.

“Django alerted to the closet and I in there and looked around,” said. “I shook the flashlight and it feel different so I was ready to on.”

But Django had a different He pulled Marshowsky back to the

“So I go, ‘Where is it Django?’ and he got up in the cabinet,” said. “He grabbed that in his mouth and threw it at me. He was very

Checkettz can relate. He says he his dog, Niels, implicitly.

“I no question that he’ll do he’s supposed to do when on the job,” Checkettz said, his wife looking on. “And when we get home, I take his off and he just hangs out. just part of our family.”

2014 Elko Daily Press. All rights reserved. material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed.

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