Lessons from a K-9 Officer

Different types of service dogs fascinate me. Police and military dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, prison dogs. The relationships these dogs have with their humans are different and ones that I don’t know about from first-hand experience. As I continue to work on my Dogs Know Best journey, I knew I wanted to learn more about these amazing dogs and the different relationships they have with their humans. My hometown of Stow, Ohio, has three K-9 officers in the police department, so I thought it would be a great place to start my exploration. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with K-9 Officer Ted Bell, a 15-year K-9 officer in the department, and his partner, Mingo. Mingo is Officer Bell’s third K-9 partner, and as you can imagine, he had some amazing stories to share. Officer Bell was extremely generous with his time, spending nearly two hours with me, telling stories of his partners over the years, Bruno, Nero and now Mingo. He shared his scrapbooks that documented their life together, catching bad guys and keeping our city safe. Most importantly, he took the time to explain – at times as best he could – the unique relationship that a K-9 officer has with his four-legged partner. I added “as best he could” because at points there just weren’t the words to express the bond they share. More on that in a minute. Officer Bell took me through the process of how the department gets a K-9 officer, in fact explaining how their vendor, Von der Haus Gill German Shepherds in Wapakoneta, OH, get their dogs from...