Shelter dog gets new leash on life in narcotics detection training
Nairobi needed a purpose. His life depended on it.
The Labrador mix was picked up as a stray by the City of Waterloo, Iowa, in early December. He arrived at the Cedar Bend Humane Society malnourished, full of worms and with an injured tail.
“Our volunteer vet did fix his tail. It had broken open like he’d been thumping it on a kennel wall,” said Kristy Gardner, CBHS co-director.
Cedar Bend staff nursed Nairobi back to health and set out to find a family he could call his own. He passed temperament testing with flying colors and was put up for adoption.
“Really he was a good dog here,” Gardner said. “He was good with other dogs. He is just so high energy.”
It was Nairobi’s high energy that kept him at the shelter, but also ultimately what saved his life.
Last weekend, Nairobi was accepted into a narcotics detection training program in Des Moines.
“That’s the kind of dog I look for, the dog they have the toughest time adopting out, the super high-energy one that just can’t sit still,” said Dennis George, owner of Midwest K-9 Detection & Consulting, LLC. “If I throw that ball 10 times, they are going to go screaming for that ball 10 times. That’s the focus I look for.”
Nairobi’s personality was too much for the families who passed him up at the shelter and after three months, CBHS staff decided to get Nairobi into a foster home. But Nairobi, as he was being moved, got anxious and nipped at an animal control officer. That took foster care off the table.
“We thought, OK, now what do we do?” Gardner said. “We were at the point we knew we were not doing him justice just sitting on our adoption floor. We were very frustrated on where to go for him. He is a good dog. He will play ball forever.”
It was then that staff got creative. They set up an obstacle course, piling chairs and tables in the CBHS lobby. Knowing Nairobi’s drive to go after a ball, they filmed him doing just that, winding his way in and around to get to a ball tossed inside the furniture matrix. They sent the video to George.
Liking what he saw in Nairobi, George paid the adoption fee and accepted the dog into his program. George opened Midwest K-9 after 29 years as a detective and
K-9 unit handler for the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. He has trained a number of dogs, including other shelter dogs, that have gone on to become K-9 units for other Iowa law enforcement agencies.
In just a few days with George, Nairobi has shown great potential as a narcotics detection dog.
“His ball drive is incredible,” George said. “He would do everything I asked him to do even as he was getting adjusted to me and being in a new environment.”
Nairobi will spend the next few months training with George, who gets calls several times a month from law enforcement agencies looking for detection dogs. He takes great care to pair the right dog with the right K-9 handler.
“A soft dog and a firm handler won’t work,” George said. “I want to make sure it’s a successful team.”
Cedar Bend staff are thrilled with the opportunity that’s been given to Nairobi, and they will keep in touch with George to track the dog’s progress.
“We’re so excited,” Gardner said. “(Nairobi) needed a job and I think this is what he will excel in. He’s off to a hopeful career.”
~ Courtesy of WCF Courier