For five years, we ran an annual event we called The All Pet Festival. We no longer offer this event — which probably wouldn’t take place this year anyway — because larger organizations picked up on this idea and our little PetFest couldn’t compete. Our event drew 30 to 40 local vendors and included demonstrations and fun events to enjoy.
The most popular demonstrations each year were the Manchester Police Department and the Manchester Fire Department demonstrations of their K-9s’ talents. We love seeing the Arson K-9 finding accelerant to help determine if a fire was set or not, and watching a police K-9 take down a criminal (played by a fellow officer) then immediately demonstrate well-trained behavior responding to cues such as heel, come, sit and down.
Far from being dangerous to non-criminals, these dogs are friendly, wonderful companions to their handlers and their family.
I love watching “North Woods Law” on Animal Planet, which, if you haven’t watched it, you’re missing a great show! The New Hampshire Fish & Game conservation officers and their trained K-9s, often with the help of local and state police, save lives, help wildlife, bring offenders to justice and deal with the public in an astonishingly gentle and educational manner. It is truly a learning opportunity for anyone on how to best deal with rule-breakers.
Over the years, there have been times that we’ve unfortunately had to call the Manchester Police Department because cars are parked in our lot after hours, and we suspected illegal activity. And the police respond every single time.
Years ago, we found drug paraphernalia in the woods by the road near our parking lot. We called the police department and followed up, inviting a police officer to talk to us at an All Staff Lunch, educating us about what to do if or when we see needles or other dangerous items.
Our Scentwork classes invited a police officer to demonstrate how they train their K-9s to locate various items. In the scentwork sports that we teach, we don’t stop a dog identifying a “hot” item by touching it to indicate he’s found it. Obviously, a bomb detection dog needs a different way to indicate. The last thing you want is for a K-9 to touch a bomb or jump on a lost hiker who may be terrified of dogs. It was really educational to learn from the officer about their training.
In each of these cases, the officers and the police department generously volunteered their time to educate us — the public. In fact, the officer who spoke at our staff lunch was suddenly called away to deal something — likely a crime, perhaps even endangering his life.
On a personal note, when my husband suffered a stroke and crashed his car, I arrived on the scene after he had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The officers who were still at the crash site were gentle, caring, helpful and compassionate in giving me information. One officer even came to the hospital later to make sure I was OK. His compassion was greatly appreciated at one of the most stressful events of my life.
As you can likely tell, I’m writing this as a tribute and in gratitude to the police. As is everyone, I was sickened by the death of George Floyd. But one horrendous event must not be used to vilify the wonderful police officers I have seen, dealt with, and met over the years. Police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. I, for one, want to say THANK YOU!