I had the pleasure of attending a SinC-Colorado chapter event with the guest speaker
being Kathleen Mayger who co-owns Sherlock Hounds. A company that trains and uses dogs to detect drugs, gunpowder, and alcohol. It was started by two middle grade teachers who wanted to have an environment where students felt safe. According to Kathleen, who is now part owner, the dogs are:
- Friendly and non-intimidating
- Believes in a pro-active/deterrent program
- That 95-98% of all students are good
I learned a ton and saw some of her dogs in action, which was fun. Not all of her dogs are the same breed and most of their dogs are rescues or from shelters. Before these dogs can be trained they have to have a few characteristics that will help them be good K-9 dogs.
- High Energy
- Not good “pets”
- Want to retrieve objects over and over and over
- Good with kids, meaning that they don’t freak out if their tail is pulled, or ears are roughly played with, and etc.
The dogs are played-trained meaning that they aren’t rewarded with treats, but toys. Kathleen’s dogs are given a ball in a white sock to play with after they find whatever illegal item they’re looking for. On average, her dogs cost $3000-$5000, whereas bomb and narcotic dogs can cost the department anywhere from $20,000-$25,000.
Right now, Sherlock Hounds is training their dogs to alert passively instead of actively. When a dog active alerts, s/he will scratch letting the trainer know that there’s something in that spot. In a passive alert, a dog will sit. The latter training is better because the dogs don’t scratch surfaces, like wood, metal, or cars, which can leave claw marks.
I had an incredible time at this event with Kathleen who was energetic, informative, and fun. As you can probably tell, I could go on and on about my field trip, but I’ll leave quit while I can.