Meet A K9 Dog--Igor

k9SAINT JOHNSBURY-He is an excellent drug finder, but also a faithful friend. He was born in Connecticut, graduated from a state academy school, then got the qualification to serve the community. He is 2 years old, and loves to play with toy balls. This is Igor, a police dog serving the Saint Johnsbury State Police.

Igor is a Belgian Malinois. He was born in a professional K9 center in Connecticut. This center offers police dogs to the whole world. Lieutenant Cooper is the director of the K9 team for Saint Johnsbury State Police. He says the police dogs must be very energetic and self-driven, so that they are willing to search for items such as drugs. Also, they have to control themselves very well in order to deal with some special conditions. Igor, like other police dogs, is really good at balancing these two parts, which are the basic abilities for K9 dogs.

Igor’s best friend, colleague, as well as “dad”, Trooper Thompson, said the first time he met Igor was in Saint Johnsbury State Police. Lieutenant Cooper brought some dogs, and they “hired” Igor as his partner. At that time, Igor was just less than one-year old. After that, Igor started to go with Trooper Thompson almost all the time together. They worked together to guarantee security in the community, and after working they were like good buddies, sitting on the coach and watching TV. “He just my puppy after work, you know,” said Trooper Thompson, “we play together. He just like a normal dog.”

Police dogs are really helpful partners with their handlers. They can participate in drug detection, explosion detection, searching for missing people, etc. and regularly demo to the community to show how they work with the handlers and how they are trained. It is a great way to let the residents know more about police dogs. In many countries, attacking police dogs can be a serious crime. Police dogs are like the other police’s employees, getting the protection and rights.

During the detections, K9 dogs can reflect differently to let their handlers know. These behaviors are called “aggressive alerts” and “passive alerts”. In drug detection, K9s will show their aggressive alert to the handlers, like pawing and digging at the spot. However, not all the situations that can allowed to do that. Bomb detection will need K9s to do passive alert: they will show a “sit” gesture near a dangerous bomb, to protect themselves, but also the environment. When K9s work, the riskiest part for them is they track someone who doesn't want to be tracked. They could attack the police dogs, Trooper Thompson explained.

Thus, in order to advance the communication skills between handlers and their K9s, some hand actions and verbal commands would be really helpful. Igor always watches Trooper Thompson’s behaviors, staring at him. When entering the police cruiser alone, and closing the doors, his eyes still watch Thompson for any directions. Once the door opens, Igor still sits inside, waiting for Thompson to give the direction to move. Another example of this connection is telling Igor to stay, moving ten feet, then Thompson simply pat his left leg as a command for Igor to keep following him.

Igor seems like he can keep running, playing and working. However, everyone needs their rest. Police dogs work more compared to regular family pets, thus, Thompson sometimes has to tell him take a break. “Just like a work out. If you keep exercising it will hurt your body, and have a negative effect on your energy. So, sometimes I have to let him take it easy, and then he can back to work immediatly after feeling better.” Trooper said.

“We love this job, we signed up to help people, and we want to protect the community. These K9s are an incredible asset to the community, public safety, and their Troopers,” said Lieutenant Cooper. “Being part of a team with my K9 working together trying to help people for what we can.” Trooper Thompson said.