The K-9 Heroes of Boston

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I was born and raised in a suburb of Boston called Hyde Park. I grew up a short train ride away from the Back Bay section of Boston. I can’t tell you how much time I spent walking the streets of Back Bay, past the Boston Public Library, down Boylston Street, past the Prudential Center, and onto Newbury Street. My friends and I had so much fun, such great experiences, and really gained our independence as teenagers and young adults on these streets. These streets were the same streets that were shown, practically on a loop, starting Monday afternoon on TV’s and computers all over the nation.

I am so proud of my city, and so proud of the individuals that stayed and helped the victims of the bombings. I was late on submitting my article this week. I had a final in my class, and honestly was having a hard time focusing on choosing a topic to write about. Once I saw the horrific events unfold on Monday, I knew what I needed to write about. While there were many 2-legged heroes shown and interviewed, I started to think about the 4-legged heroes that were right there along side the officers in the midst of the investigation. Below is some information that I found out about K-9 Units.

Dogs assist police officers in efforts such as search and rescue, forensic evidence, bomb, and drug operations. They even join our soldiers fighting overseas. Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds seem to be the most commonly used dogs for these purposes. They themselves are considered officers and soldiers.

Bomb-sniffing dogs are trained using classical conditioning techniques with rewards of food and toys, and are trained by private dog trainers as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives train dogs to sniff bombs. The dogs attend a 10-week program where they are exposed daily to explosives. In the beginning, each time
a dog detects the odor of explosives, he is told to sit. This becomes the signal the handler gets that a bomb has been found. The dog is then fed when in the presence of explosives. This training progresses from there to last the whole ten weeks before dogs are sent to work and live with their human partners.

After the training is complete and the dog starts to work, they are able to respond to calls of suspicious packages, and by using their incredible sense of smell, tell their partner whether explosives are inside the package. Think of how quickly someone can be rest assured that all is well, or alerted to a potential danger.

I am so grateful to the Boston Police Department, and their K-9 unit. I hope that everyone appreciates the amazing job that their local police officers do, whether they have two legs or four, to keep us all safe in the face of a changing world.

(Photo credit: Boston Police K-9 Unit/Facebook)

Juliet Carty Greene is the proud pet Mommy of Yoda, Wendy, and Willow. She has been happily married for over a year and lives in Salem, MA. Besides writing and expanding her knowledge on dogs, she’s an avid winter-time knitter and all-around animal lover.

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