Officer Baumgart and I continued our training this last week with our K9 partners, Allied and Carl, respectively. We continue to progress in our training. Our training week began with searching in a working jail. We both did searches, Carl and I searching for explosives, and Allied and Jason searching for illegal drugs. The dogs did very well. This is important for the teams to experience, not only because we're searching a different type of facility, but for the environmental factors as well. We had to go through the security process with the dogs. We had to wait, to be "buzzed in" to the secure areas. The dogs also had to ride elevators, which was for many I'm sure the first time they experienced this. After completing the morning in the jail, we moved onto working in a school. We did more searches, with Jason and Allied also working on building searches that are meant to replicate a burglary. The searches are still simple and relatively quick as the dogs learn what's being asked of them. This will progress to the point where a well-trained dog is capable of methodically searching a burglarized building with little verbal communication with the dog and handler. The dogs can learn to search and "down" (lay down with a command) with hand signals which allows us advantages from a tactical standpoint.
Carl and I continued to do many different types of explosive searches. He's now searching the wing of a school and larger and more challenging areas. To think we started a few short weeks ago working in a small room. His progress and aptitude have been amazing. I'm also getting better at what I do. The search for illegal drugs (which I did with my former K9 partner) and the explosive search patterns are quite different, which makes sense for obvious reasons. For many of our explosive searches, they will begin on the outside of the building-clearing the outside before we clear a doorway to make entry into an area. Our searching has to be methodical and disciplined. With my old K9 partner, it didn't matter if he wanted to jump up on a file cabinet to sniff for drugs. Very different with an explosive detection dog. You don't want the dog jumping on anything!! Also, if I haven't mentioned before, both dogs are trained for passive alerts, which means they sit or lay down as close to the source of the odor as they can. There are aggressive alert trained dogs which means they scratch at the odor source, again not a good quality for a bomb detection dog.
Our training progressed so well, Carl and I were able to return home this weekend after four weeks of training. Officer Baumgart and Allied, because they are dual purpose and have so many more disciplines to be proficient in, will be training for two more weeks. The two are doing very well. They're often training in another area from where I'm training, but we did have a few opportunities to work together this last week and the two have clearly bonded and complement each other well. They're continuing to progress on their tracking (longer and more aged tracks), narcotics searches, obedience, and bitework. We're certianly looking forward to having them home soon!
I've attached a "graduation" picture of Carl and I. I left out the "action shots" of him jumping on top of me....If you look closely, you might see a paw print or two on my uniform. He's a great dog with a big personality-a joy to work with. Thanks for following our progress. Sergeant Jeff Felt