While most dogs have to stay at home all day while their owners go to work, K-9 dogs get to work too. The Naperville Police Department has two K-9 teams, made up of a handler and a German Shepherd.
Any day K-9 handler Officer Eddie Corneliusen goes to work, his dog Kairo goes too.
“The biggest and most popular job that people think about is the drugs,” said Officer Corneliusen. “We use their nose as a locating tool to locate those odors that you and I can’t smell, or that are hidden. We also use them to find people. We can cover a vast majority of a location much quicker with a dog than you can with 2-3 people, and much more thoroughly too.”
Kairo and Officer Corneliusen have been answering calls together for the past eight years. The team’s success built over time. They trained together for eight weeks, five days a week, ten hours a day.
“You learn to communicate with the dog in and of yourself,” he said. “That’s not a normal thing you do with a regular pet. You learning the tracking, area searches, bite work.”
Kairo and Officer Corneliusen continue to train every week. In addition to keeping their skills fresh, it helps them form a bond that will last a lifetime.
“Over the years you learn the subtleties of the dog and he does me as well; the voice inflection, body language, we’re constantly learning from one another,” said Corneliusen.
Their time together isn’t finished at the end of their shift.
“He will come home with me. He stays with me 24 hours a day,” he said. “I’m on call 24 hours a day. I see that dog more than I see my family sometimes. I do enjoy the K-9 a great deal. I’m not looking forward to the day it ends.”
When the handler feels the K-9 can no longer fulfill his police duties, it’s time for the dog to retire, and the handler then gets to choose if he wants to adopt the dog.
“It’s technically property with the city. So we purchase him from the city for a dollar and he’ll come live with me for the rest of his days,” said Corneliusen.
So for Officer Corneliusen and Kairo, this partnership will continue long after Kairo retires.
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