Partners, not pets: K-9s put lives on line to protect police

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  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed Subscribing Member MC1+MC2 +MC3 109K+Poster


    Tina Russell / Observer-Dispatch
    "He's a family member," New York State Trooper Tom Smoulcey said when asked about his relationship with his K-9, Jake. "That dog would give his life to protect me, so I'm very attached to him." Smoulcey and his K-9 practice a tracking drill at the New York State K-9 Unit in Cooperstown Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

    New York State Trooper Tom Smoulcey holds back Jake, a straining 3-year-old German shepherd on a black leash. He pauses before giving his command: “Find the bomb.”
    Jake gets to work, gamboling around, pressing his nose to an assortment of suitcases strewn about the basement of the Cooperstown New York State Police K-9 Unit training facility.
    Jake’s breathing quickens and his head snaps back, trying to recapture the scent of the stick of dynamite he’s been told to track. When he finds what he’s looking for about a minute later, he lies down – the passive sign that he’s found the explosive.
    Now, it’s time to play: the dog’s reward for a job well done.
    Jake and Smoulcey are one of the 66 state police K-9 teams that combine man and man’s best friend. Though Smoulcey and his canine have been together for nearly 10 months, Jake fills the role of partner, not pet.
    The state troopers say that the dogs work to please their handlers.
    “The dogs want to work for you,” said Smoulcey, who is based in the troopers’ barracks in Marcy. “That dog would give his life to protect me.”

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