Raz, a dual-purpose K9, will soon join furry co-workers Daggo and Blu at the Columbia Police Department.
“They’re an invaluable resource,” Raz’s handler Kyle Hannon said of the working dogs. “To have more at our disposal is something that we are going to benefit from.”
Hannon, a first time handler, was able to secure a K9 of his own thanks to a donation from Dogs on Duty, a Missouri-based non profit that provides working dogs and their handlers with essential resources.
Master Trainer Brian Dowdy, who owns Dowdy Dawgs, purchased Raz from a breeder in Holland and brought him to the states. Raz and Hannon started training with Dowdy Dawgs on Monday. There, Raz will continue to be trained in the same skills as Sgt. Zack Hopkins’s K9 Daggo and Tobi, the new Waterloo police K9.
“He’s a dual-purpose dog, so, similar to Waterloo’s new dog, he will be doing narcotics detection and then human tracking and criminal apprehension,” Hannon explained.
Hannon said watching Daggo work further bolstered his interest in handling.
“(I’ve been) able to watch some of the county dogs work and watch Daggo work, and I’m always fascinated by the working dogs and how talented these dogs are,” Hannon said. “Being able to handle my own … has always been something I’ve been interested in.”
In fact, Hannon and Raz are already learning a lot from Hopkins and Daggo’s experience. The first lesson? K9 duty is not the typical 9-to-5 gig.
“I’ve always been told it’s a lot of work, and it sure is,” Hannon said. “It’s not an aspect of the job that you get to leave after working, you take them home. You have to keep them sharp at home and keep them active, and these dogs are high-energy, so it’s a 24/7 job that you’re taking on.”
For Raz, staying “sharp” includes lots of walks, playing ball and his favorite treat: frozen peanut butter KONGs.
Raz is already taking after Daggo, even though the two have not met yet, Hannon said.
“(Daggo) is a dog that can go through the schools and do K9 demonstrations, and Raz already kind of shows that social aspect, so (we hope to) fine-tune that. (We’re) making sure that he’s a dog that the community can embrace and be around but can still go and do his job at the same time,” Hannon said.
Now, Hannon and Raz are undergoing a six-week training program with Dowdy Dawgs in the St. Louis area.
“These dogs are super talented on their own, so it’s more so having their handler figure out how to be the voice for them, interact with them and watch their behavior work,” Hannon said of the training.
This training, along with the two-week period at home the two have spent together so far, will further ensure a strong connection.
Hannon said this is extremely important when working with a K9, as the handler relies on the dog to alert them properly, and the dog needs its handler to adequately interpret its behavior.
“It’s no different from being able to trust your co-workers in the human-to-human aspect,” Hannon said. “He has to be able to trust me and I have to be able to trust him to know that we will both be able to get the job done.”
For more information about Dogs on Duty, visit dogsonduty.org. To learn more about Dowdy and his work, visit ampwda.com/bdowdy.html.