K9 Team of the Quarter
Meet K9 Kobra and her two-legged counterpart, Officer Rowland!
How did you end up with Kobra?
“Kobra is a Belgian Malinois born and trained in Slovakia until she was one and a half years old. She was one of thirty dogs brought over from Europe and put through a series of tests to see what her strengths were. Kobra tested really well overall and was chosen in the top 3 for additional tasks. She also displayed a good temperament, which is necessary when you’re bringing your dog home every day after the shift.”
What’s the relationship like between you as a handler and the K-9 officer?
“I’ve been around dogs my whole life, and I knew I wanted to work with K-9s as soon as I got into law enforcement. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to work with a dog? I’ve had her for almost two years. She’s great on-duty, but it’s like a switch is flipped and she acts like a normal dog off-duty. If there’s a rough situation at work, I’ll grab her to go play fetch and she comforts me like a normal pet. When I take her home after work, she can be inside and watch TV with my family.”
Do you have any other pets? Do they get along?
“I have a labrador named Benton and they’re actually only a few days apart. Benton is afraid of Kobra even though he has about 20 pounds on her. It could be all of her extra energy and her “stop at no costs” attitude when it comes to retrieving the tennis ball. Benton loves to go swimming and play in the water while Kobra’s more hesitant and on guard.”
What does Kobra’s schedule look like?
“We work patrol from 4 PM to 2 AM because there are usually more deployments later in the night. Most people don’t realize that beyond her initial 6-week training, we also continually train maintain her skills. We train every day together, participate in a weekly training group with local departments, attend vendor maintenance trainings every month, and attend a 4-day conference every year.”
That’s a lot of training! What does she know how to do?
“A big part of the training is exposure so the first time K-9 officers encounter an obstacle in the field, they’re already familiar with it. Some examples are walking on a board suspended by chains so that it wobbles and practicing different terrains and locations. Her biggest strengths in the field are finding people and things. Kobra helps with apprehensions, finding evidence or weapons with recent human odors and detecting drugs. Every time she has a successful find, she gets her toy as a reward.”
How does the community feel about Kobra?
“They love her! To some extent, she’s the face of the department. People don’t want to talk to the cops, but they see Kobra and get excited. I’ve had conversations with people who would normally turn the other way when they see me because dogs (even police K-9s) bridge the gap between police and community. We were just up at a YMCA camp in Big Bear for a demonstration, which made me a little more approachable when connecting with the kids. Our department loves when she comes in just as much - she has to make the rounds to get scratches from everyone who’s there!”
Bonus Fun Fact
She’s the first female police dog in her department!