Tail-wagging patrolmen: retired officer gives inside look at K-9 training facility

Posted at 8:32 PM, Feb 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-03 22:58:27-05

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- Future four legged K-9 officers are being trained right here in west Michigan, and not just any pup makes the cut. Even finding a pup that is fit to be trained for police work is a task in itself.

"We waive sticks over their heads, so the dogs not intimidated. It's all he's done 100 times," said trainer Randy Adams.

At first glance, Adams K-9 in Hudsonville might look like a typical dog boarding kennel, but these dogs aren’t your typical run of the mill Fido’s. The pups there are just months away from being the K-9’s on the front lines, serving and protecting officers when they need them the most.

"The difference is a suspect will fight with five officers, but when the dogs there, they are very cooperative," said Adams.

Randy Adams over at Adams K-9 in Hudsonville spent more than two decades as part of the K-9 unit at the Wyoming Police Department. Following his retirement in 2013, Adams is now training, grooming and disciplining these future four legged officers.

Luther, at just four and a half months old, was born in Virginia. He already has some big paws to fill. The pup has already been qualified to protect the men and women in uniform.

"That is what we call drive right there. He's very intense over that toy, and that intensity is what we are looking for when we are looking for police dogs," said Adams.

At 11-months-old, Brody has already been purchased by the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office. This Spring he’ll meet his partner, master and lifetime companion.

"It's amazing how quickly they form a bond. It doesn't take very long, and that dog will protect him with his life," said Adams. "They are part of the family for these guys because the dog goes home. He lives with them. He's great with the kids. They are definitely part of the family," said Adams.

While the training process is only a few months long, all dogs have a gradual process of discipline before they are ready to hit the street.

Good news for these hounds, the first step is constant positive reinforcement to build their confidence. Adams is sure to pet them, to reassure that their handler is approving their behavior.

The next step is to introduce the sleeve hold.

"The difference is a suspect will fight with five officers, but when the dogs there, they are very cooperative," said Adams.

It’s not always just an intense game of tug-a-war. These tail wagging patrolmen are already being taken to frightening places to build up their tolerance for any environment.

"Shops, dark places. Getting them on stairs. Getting them on a lot of surfaces. That sort of thing," said Adams.

The final step is teaching the hounds how to perfect their sense of smell, and that’s where their love of the tennis ball comes back into play.

"We want a dog that's real possessive of the ball. We use this one to teach them to track and find drugs and that sort of thing, explosives," said Adams.

Taking on the responsibly to help make an impact on law enforcement even after his days of being on patrol, Adams knows first hand the bond that is formed, and just how much these cop dogs help save lives every time their paws hit the streets.

"They love going to work. It's fun for them," said Adams.

Still to come this month on FOX 17 Morning News, our cameras will go behind the scenes with dogs and their handlers for some unique perspectives on this aspect of law enforcement.  From training to honing their instincts, to being out in the field protecting and serving, and finally to retirement,  be sure to tune in for ‘Paws Before Boots: The Career of a K-9 Officer, starting this Friday morning.