Behind the Scenes: Meet Kyra, Pasadena Police Department's K-9
Ever wonder about the special training that a police K-9 and handler go through on a daily basis? Here is an inside look from Officer Prestwich of the Pasadena Police Department, and K-9 Kyra.
How many police K-9s are in the Pasadena Police Department?
We have 5 K-9s. Four of our dogs are dual purpose, all trained in apprehension, two are narcotics detection and the other two are explosives detection. We have one K-9 that is dedicated to our narcotics team and single purpose in narcotics detection only.
How are dogs chosen to be police K-9s?
The process with Pasadena Police Dept. and many other departments is very extensive in selecting a police dog. We use “Adlerhorst” K-9 School for K-9 selection and training. Adlerhorst imports European sport dogs who go through strict selection through bloodline, health, obedience, drive, temperament, etc. Once Pasadena PD selects a dog based off department needs and performance, the K-9 and the handler go through a 6 week K-9 patrol school and then another 6 weeks for narcotics/explosive odor detection school. After this initial training, we continually train our dogs, through daily obedience, weekly group training, monthly training and annual re-certification for patrol and detection.
What is their training like?
The dogs from the time they are puppies learn to bite a canvass sleeve and then trained in commands to bite, let go, guard, search/track (people and items), escort, handler protection, stop, stay, sit, lay, etc. This is initially done with food rewards and then usually transitioned 100% to toy rewards. Once the dog becomes a K-9, in addition to the above training, they learn to search buildings and tactically search houses, yards, and open areas. All the training is reward and praise based, so in short the dogs love to train because it’s playtime in their mind!
How many days a week do they work?
A typical K-9 schedule is four, 10hr shifts, not including overtime for city/Rose Bowl events, and call-outs to respond to incidents in our own city or our mutual aid cities.
What is their schedule like?
We have dogs from 6am to 2am most of the week, split up between handlers.
Do they like to play like other dogs?
Although our dogs are highly trained and have an important purpose, they are still dogs at the end of the day. Like I mentioned earlier, work is play to the dogs, so whether it’s a work day or day off, the dogs are having fun.
Do they go home at night with their handler, or do they stay at the police station?
Most police dogs, like ours, go home with their handler at night and are at home on days off. When the time comes for the dog and/or handler to retire, typically the dog remains with the handler.
How old is Kyra?
Kyra is 5 years old.
Where was she born?
Kyra was born in the Netherlands.
What breed is she?
Kyra is a Dutch Shepard.
What are the main differences between a Dutch, and German Shepard?
Both breeds are outstanding for K-9. I would say the main difference between Dutch and German outside of physical attributes, is how they use their energy. German Shepards tend to be more methodical and slower in searching and Dutch Shepards tend to go 100% and run an area a couple times before they wind down a bit and really engage. All dogs are different and there are exceptions to every dog and breed. Physically, German Shepards are a larger breed 10-15plus pounds larger in males and females.
In what language are the commands?
Kyra in trained in Dutch commands.
What is her favorite thing to do on the job?
Kyra loves to do patrol training and find the hidden decoy. The decoy wears a bite suit or a bite sleeve, which is the reward for finding the decoy, it’s like a giant chew toy for the dogs.
What’s Kyra’s favorite Treat or toy?
Kyra’s favorite treat is the 100% beef grillers, she’ll do anything for them. Kyra is obsessed with balls, everything from tennis balls to giant exercise balls, she’ll try to find a way to destroy it…they don’t last long at my house.
How long have you and Kyra worked together?
Kyra has been a K-9 for about 3 years, I have had her since May 2018. 16. How did you become partners? One of my career goals was to become a K-9 handler and to do that you have to first work patrol for some time, and then go through the structured testing process. Somehow I made it though, and now I’m living the dream!
Did you need to have special training to have a K-9 partner?
Yes. Prior to being selected as a K-9 handler, usually you go through a K-9 agitator class, where you learn about some dog behavior and how to take bites from the dog. Also, showing up to your departments weekly K-9 training to volunteer to be a decoy for the training and any other K-9 related event helps you as a potential future handler and familiarizes yourself with how the dogs train and work. Lastly, you need to go through K-9 patrol school with your dog which is 6 weeks and that’s just to get started.
If we see you and Kyra working in Pasadena, what would be the best way for us to come up and say hello?
As for me, and any other K-9 handler, we are more than happy to say hello and talk for a bit. Never just walk up to a working dog or K-9 and try to pet the dog without first asking the handler. The handler may not let you pet the dog and there’s many good reasons for that, but it never hurts to ask.
If someone reading this would like to do what you do one day, how would they do it?
Just like everyone else, you have to start at square one. Put time into classes, training, and make yourself available to help and work hard. It’s very rewarding job and I’m lucky to have it.
What has been your most memorable moment working with Kyra?
I can’t say there is one memory that sticks out in my mind so far, but I’ll say every day that we go to work is different and exciting. It’s always fun to see the dog perform.