At the Healing Hearts Ranch Rodeo's silent auction in October, we won "A Day with a K-9 Officer" for Anna. She has been looking forward to this day for 2 months! The Great Bend PD went above and beyond to make this day special and meaningful for an 11 year old girl!
We met the police chief at the station and he talked to Anna a bit while we waited for the K-9 officer, Detective Hales, to arrive. Det. Hales took us up to his office, where he gave Anna some "trading cards" of him and his dog, Kia (pronounced K-eye). We also met another Detective, Joel, who would act as the decoy (aka pretend bad guy). From there, we went outside and "met" Kia (he stayed in the back of his car) and then went to the fire station so they could show Anna the things a K-9 does. Anna got to ride with Detective Hales and Kia!
Once there, Det. Hales got Kia out to actually meet Anna. He put the muzzle on Kia just to make sure he didn't try to hug Anna with his teeth ;) Kia is a Belgian Malinois, not a German Shepherd. According to his handler, Kia is far superior to the other K-9...a German Shepherd. HA! Kia came from Holland, so his handler gives him commands in Dutch.
It didn't take long for him to decide he loved Anna and the muzzle came off! He actually went to Anna two or three times instead of me. She was happy to oblige with lots of love and pets!
Happy, happy girl!
The first exercise we saw was drug sniffing (all those pics are on my phone. I think there's actually only one...). Anna got to hide 4 or 5 different narcotics around the firehouse bay for Kia to find. It was really fun to watch Kia go to work--as soon as he walked into the building, he was a totally different dog. Alert and intense and focused. The next exercise put the decoy, Det. Joel, to work! He volunteered for this! He actually had to get special training because if you don't do it correctly, you can hurt or even kill the dog. For the first "suspect hunt", they set up in the firehouse with Det. Joel hiding behind a boat. Det. Hales brought Kia in and yelled his command for the suspect to show himself. As soon he started yelling, Kia started barking. And it is a fierce bark! You couldn't pay me enough to be a decoy!!!
I think she's enjoying herself!
It only took Kia about 30 seconds to find Det. Joel!
They play it up like it's real, with the decoy yelling and acting in pain for a couple reason--to build the dog's confidence and to make it as real life as possible.
Once Kia gets ahold of the decoy, his handler puts his leash back on quickly and gives him the command to drop.
In these cases, the decoy will let go of the arm pad and a happy Kia walks away with a very big chew toy!
Next we moved outside to a training building. They set it up with some barricades around where Det. Joel was hiding. As soon as his handler let him out of the car, Kia was alert and ready to seek and destroy!
The saying about animals smelling fear is 100% true, especially for K-9s! We do put off a stronger odor when we are afraid and these dogs can smell that.
Det. Hales is giving his orders for the suspect to come out and Kia is chomping at the bit to get in there! This time, it took Kia about 60 seconds to find the decoy and he did it by jumping over a half-wall that was about 4.5 feet tall!!!
Next up, we headed to an old air strip for a mock car chase and foot pursuit of the "suspect"!! Anna got to ride along!!!
There's Kia in the back (you can barely see the tip of his ear)--he never is still in there. Always circling to get out and get after it!
Anna got to turn on the lights and sirens as they had a high speed chase up and down the air strip!
You can barely see Anna over the dash :)
The "suspect" has gone off the road, abandoned his car and is fleeing on foot!
Det. Hales pursues on foot. He has a little remote on his belt...it has a button that will open Kia's door, so if he ever gets in trouble and needs Kia's backup, he can just push the button and it pops open Kia's door.
I've never seen dog run as fast as Kia. Wow!
The "suspect" is now firing at the officer (you can see the smoke on the right side).
It did not take long for Kia to catch up to his handler and pass him!
Closing in quickly on the "suspect"!
Now you can see why I would say that Det. Joel is the crazy one?!?
Takes him down in a split second, and he even loses a shoe! :)
His handler gets the leash on him and gives him the command.
He really doesn't want to leave behind that giant chew toy...
The "suspect" with his "getaway driver" (also known as the other K-9 handler)!
I am so thankful for the GB PD and these two guys. They took a lot of time out of their day to make a little girl feel special and have a blast! They went above and beyond what we were expecting! It was fun to learn more about the K-9s and how they help keep us safe! We appreciate our law enforcement and are so blessed to have good guys like these on the force!