It’s always a proud moment when parents watch their offspring graduate. And it’s always fun to celebrate the special achievement with friends, a graduation cake — and a few dog biscuits and chew toys.
Bodie, a trained police dog — or K-9 — enjoyed a special cake this Wednesday made of peanut butter, honey, applesauce, oatmeal, and flour, eaten right from the floor. The occasion? His son Blitz’s graduation ceremony. Blitz is following in his father’s “paw-steps” and will work closely with Officer Joe Davis of the Citrus Heights, California Police Department — the same department where his old man served.
Blitz will have to work hard to match his father’s reputation. Bodie, a silver, tan, and black German shepherd, is a K-9 hero, having taken a bullet for his human partner, Officer Randy Van Dusen on May 18, 2012. Bodie had been trying to help apprehend Lucas Jerome Webb, 33, a car theft suspect, after a car chase followed by a foot pursuit through Land Park, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“K-9 Bodie saved my life. He took a bullet that was meant for me [while] chasing a car theft suspect. Even before that, the bond that develops between handlers and our dogs — we spend so much time with them, and we do so much training with these dogs,” Officer Van Dusen told the publication.
K-9 officers are needed and valued members of police forces all around the world, and their duties include searching for drugs and explosives, looking for lost people, attempting to locate crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation website.
Police dogs are in widespread use across the United States, and operate on the federal, state, county, and local level.
Police dogs on the federal level are rarely seen by the general public, though they may be occasionally seen in airports, assisting Transportation Security Administration officials searching for explosives and weapons, or by Customs and Border Protection searching for concealed narcotics and concealed people.
Some dogs may also be used by tactical teams of agencies, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the FBI; and the United States Marshals Service.
“K-9s have a rich history of working with law enforcement and military units dating back to the 1800s,” according to K9sforcops.org. “Police K-9s receive specific training to assist law enforcement in ways other tools cannot. The structure of a dog’s nose gives it a sense of smell that is 300,000 to 500,000 times stronger than the human nose, allowing [the dog] to follow a scent trail undetectable to humans, even breaking down specific scents.”
The example the organization uses is vivid: “Humans can smell beef stew cooking, whereas a K-9 smells individual ingredients like the onions, carrots, and thyme. For that reason, K-9s are used to sweep venues for explosives, search buildings for narcotics and apprehend suspects on the run.”
Van Dusen knows he owes his life to his special partner.
“After a dog saves your life, there’s something that’s just difficult to describe. To be able to go home every night still to my family, solely because of Bodie doing his job and being there for me — the feelings that I have for him are very, very deep, and he’s the best partner that anyone could ask for.”
Blitz showed off his recently learned skills at the graduation party as his proud papa looked on.
“I could not be happier, knowing that his bloodlines will be out there and protecting citizens in this area, and also the officers that work in this area — good friends of mine,” said Officer Van Dusen. “I know K-9 Blitz is going to follow right in Dad’s footsteps.”