Bret, Alan, Mike and of course Bane.  Bane's always playing!  Then again, the bad guys may not like the game he plays...
 
We had a special guest barker today.  Bane is the new K9 addition to the Prospect Heights Police Department.  He and his handler, Alan Thiebault and preferred biting victim Mike Porziki were on hand to show us how he does his job.  
 
Bane, like all specialty dogs, was chosen for his play drive.  Everything Bane does is geared toward play - he searches for drugs so he can play tug with Alan.  He protects Alan and apprehends criminals so he can wrestle with Alan.  Unlike some misperceptions, police dogs are not driven by food.  If they were, then criminals could get away by throwing them a treat.  Or the dogs wouldn't be effective after a meal.  They're also not addicted to or even exposed to the drugs they search for.  Instead, the search is a game and the reward is their favorite toy.  And only Bane's handler - Alan, can give him that toy.  So Bane has a strong incentive to protect Alan at all costs.  
 
The dog/officer relationship is critical.  They learn to read each other's body language which helps both in tense situations. Bane reads Alan and knows if he's going to search for a missing person or a violent criminal.  Alan reads Bane and gives the necessary commands to ensure Bane does what he should.  
 
Bane (and Alan) are new to the K9 corps.  Bane can search for six drugs, including cocaine and heroin.  He can also search for or track people.  In the future, he might be trained to detect cadavers.  In fact, dogs can be trained to search/detect nearly anything.  
 
Alan and Bane went through their paces - demonstrating how well (and quickly) Bane obeyed commands.  But the best part, of course, was when Bane went into action.  First, he searched among several boxes for the simulated heroin.  After he tore through the box to find the drugs (along with his favorite toy), they moved on to person on person scenarios.
 
Just as Alan and Bane needed to go through training, Mike needed to be trained on how to be a 'criminal' for Bane.  These dogs weigh around 100 pounds and can reach speeds exceeding 30 MPH.  That's a big impact to absorb!  Also, the criminal trainer needs to know how to help Bane respond to real criminals.  How to help Bane deal with people who try to run away, or play dead, or the like.  With that training under his belt, and some scratch pants on his legs and a bite sleeve on his arm, Mike pretended to attack Alan.  Bane came to his rescue and latched onto Mike's arm.  Police dogs are trained to bite and hold instead of chomping. While Bane kept biting Mike's arm, that was because that's what Mike offered and was the easiest target.  But Bane will bite whichever area is most available.  
 
Towards the end, Alan talked about the special SUV he and Bane use.  It has special environmental controls that operate even when the engine is off.  This allows Alan to keep Bane in the truck when he's not needed without any harm coming to Bane.  Alan also talked about the special button he has that releases Bane from the truck in an emergency.  When Bane goes out this door, he's going to find Alan - no matter what.  
 
 
 

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