Officer Safety Corner: Protecting Our K9 Partners

Two words that explain the bond that is formed between K9 handlers and their K9s are loyalty and companionship. The bond that forms between a K9 handler and the K9 is a very special one, and each such partnership is unique. To ensure the formation of such a strong bond, the individual characteristics of the handler and dog must match whenever possible. Beginning on the first day, the handler accepts full responsibility for providing proper care of the K9. Together, the handler and K9 attend a formal training class to establish mutual trust, respect, and loyalty. They learn to work as a team, gaining confidence in each other and in each other’s abilities. Throughout this entire process, affection begins to form. The K9 looks to the handler for praise when properly completing a task and for discipline when failing to follow commands. In return, the handler swells with a sense of pride when the K9 is successful. During this process, handlers also come to recognize the harsh reality that their K9 partner could pay the ultimate price to protect the life of the handler or another officer.