I think there are as mnay good dogs in the pound if only people took the
time. I think this is a business and promotes further unwanted breeding.
There are no bad dogs: only bad owners. This is not cheapp. Wonder who
pays? - Michelle
Wednesday, January 14, 1998
The LA Times
By DAIL WILLIS, The Baltimore Sun
GRANITE, Md.--The movement is so fast, it's a blur of fur and ferocity:
Seeing his handler attacked in a training exercise, the 90-pound German
shepherd is out of the patrol car's open window and on the attacker
instantly, teeth locked high on his arm.
One sharp word in Czech--"Sadni!"--from handler John Carhart, and the
fight is over. The dog sits, the growling and snarling stop, and no
leash or choke-chain is needed to enforce the command.
Meet Ajax, a recent graduate of the Maryland State Police K-9 training
school--and one of the Czech-born, German-schooled dogs that Maryland
troopers say are the future in police dogs.
The agency's move to European dogs, prompted by their size, strength and
obedience, mirrors a national trend. Skip Brewster, secretary of the
U.S. Police Canine Assn., estimates that half of the nation's 10,000
police dogs are now European transplants.
"There are still a few good dogs and breeders here in the United
States," says Brewster, a Detroit police officer and dog trainer. "But
there seem to be less problems with the European dogs."
"The dogs we were used to were extremely aggressive. They were trained
by the handler and no one else could go near them," says Sgt. James Hock
of the Maryland State Police Special Operations Division, which includes
K-9. "These [European] dogs are social--you can pet them."
The agency has acquired nine German shepherds since 1993, most of them
from the Czech Republic.
The dogs are not cheap--each costs from $2,900 to $3,500, depending on
the amount of training they've had. But troopers say the investment pays
off because of the dogs' superior training and breeding, unlike the
"gator on a leash" of yore.
"The Americans have diluted the ***lines of the German shepherd," says
Cpl. W. D. Baker, who supervises canine training for the Maryland State
Police at the agency's dog academy in Granite. "You can't find a good
German shepherd here anymore."
The European dogs are bigger and stronger, Baker says, giving them the
endurance and ability to withstand the stress of police work over the
eight to 10 years each dog is expected to serve.
"It's like the difference between a truck and a car," Baker says,
comparing the European and American dogs. "The key word is genetics."
As handlers take Ajax, Celo and Bocho through a series of training
exercises, what is most remarkable is the dogs' obedience.
The Czech word for attack--"Zadrz!"--gets the dogs jumping, growling and
biting in an impressive display of force. The command to
sit--"Sadni!"--and they are quiet within moments. Another
command--"Lahni!"--and they lie down, immobile but alert--a posture they
maintain despite balls being thrown, shots fired, other dogs passing by.
Handlers always address the dogs in Czech, the language in which they
were first trained--with one exception. "Good boy!" seems to have broken
the canine language barrier, setting tails wagging whenever it's spoken.
With these dogs, it's spoken a lot.
The training can take from eight to 18 weeks, depending on the dog's
level of expertise coming in, says Baker. All K-9 dogs also come back to
Baker's training yard for monthly "maintenance" to keep their skills
A "purchased dog"--the designation troopers use to distinguish the
European dogs they are buying from dogs acquired through the more
traditional route of donation--arrives in this country with considerable
training already under its collar.
In Europe, breeders train the dogs from puppyhood on, frequently in the
discipline called schutzhund, the German word for "protection."
The police agency buys its imported dogs from a Maryland kennel when
they are 15 to 20 months old, then trains them for patrol work:
tracking, attacking, searching buildings.
Baker says male dogs are used for patrols because they are bigger,
stronger and more aggressive than females. For other kinds of police
work, both genders and a variety of dogs are used. Labradors and golden
retrievers are trained to sniff out bombs, explosives and ***;
***hounds remain the best tracking dogs.
Copyright Los Angeles Times
Kevin Traster and Michelle Lee
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