This month brings the observation of National K-9 Veterans Day (March 13). This post is the third in an ongoing series, “A Different Breed of Officer,” featuring the St. Louis Fed’s K-9 program. We are profiling the dogs and handlers who dedicate their lives to keeping employees and visitors safe. For security reasons, names are not used.
By Christine Smith, Public Affairs Staff
Lucky visitors to the St. Louis Fed’s free Economy Museum may encounter a Federal Reserve K-9 handler and his trusty partner, a dark-brown dog with eager eyes, sweeping the facility.
They’re the perfect team (although the handler admits that his furry friend probably feels like she’s the one holding the leash).
We sat down with our Law Enforcement colleague and his Shepherd Malinois—code name: “Officer K”—to find out what it’s like to do this tough but essential job at the St. Louis Fed.
When I first met my K-9, she was green. She was just over a year old, and she had never even been inside of a building before! She was originally born in Poland and was flown to the United States to work as a K-9.
It’s like meeting anyone for the first time. I had to get to know her, and she had to get to know me. During that first contact, you can tell. They jump on you, they sniff you. That’s what’s so cool about it.
Personality-wise, my partner and I are like oil and water. We get along to a certain point … until it comes time to work! She’s got her idea of doing things her way, and I have my idea of how I want her to do it.
But she’s a good dog—my buddy, my partner. She’s very active; she knows her job and she doesn’t want anybody else getting around it. She can be a ball of fire, full of excitement.
Her favorite food is green beans, and her favorite toy is a squeaky chew toy.
When we first met, we spent about six weeks together training on the fundamentals like “imprinting,” where she learned to be familiar with the odor of different explosives. That’s one of her jobs, to detect explosive scents and screen inbound vehicles. It’s a security measure to protect employees and visitors, and it has benefitted this Bank.
Now that she’s 6, we still train constantly. Training is to keep her abilities strong so she recognizes odor. And we train with large amounts (of hidden explosive scents) to really small amounts. It’s basically to keep the dogs intrigued in the game.
Being around a dog all day is cool!