(Eagerly) reporting for duty: Meet OUPD's newest K9
Ohio University Police Department’s newest member is not only a talented Explosives Detecting K9, she’s also friendly, enthusiastic, and loves shaking hands—we mean paws.
Marcy is a 22-month-old yellow Labrador retriever who came from a kennel in Alabama and trained with her new handler and others in Columbus over the summer. When she graduated, Marcy joined the OUPD, assigned to Officer Richard Drake as his first K9 partner.
“I don’t think they could have picked a better dog for this university,” Drake says. “She’s just awesome.”
Learning the ropes
Marcy has been at the top of her class from the beginning. During the screening process, the trainers pre-screened between 20 and 40 other dogs. Drake explained how they knew she was the one.
“They took a Kong ball, which is an indestructible toy for dogs, and threw it out as far as they could in a three-acre field,” he says. “And when they opened the gate to let her go search for it, she found it in under a minute.”
Drake and Marcy first met in July of this year, when they began their training with the Columbus Division of Fire. The training consisted of working long hours together on location in Columbus, often seven days a week. Marcy learned to recognize specific scents used in explosive devices and to alert her handler when she found one. Currently, she can recognize 24 types of explosives by scent alone.
“You build the bomb dog by training them on the odors, but it’s their drive that makes them a good working K9,” says Drake. “And her drive is just incredible. She won’t stop.”
These days, Marcy can be found working alongside Drake around campus. They tend to stick to quieter spots for active training but can be spotted walking across College Green or through Baker University Center as Marcy becomes more familiar with her new workplace.
“I try going to light traffic areas right now,” Drake says. “That way she knows that when she’s working, she’s working.”
OUPD’s K9 unit is charged with making sure all University events are safe for students, faculty and visitors. Marcy and her counterpart, a chocolate lab named Bach, work every event, from football games to concerts to Board of Trustees meetings.
Most weeks, they work Monday through Friday. Marcy gets breakfast at 5 a.m., gets ready for work, and she and Drake attend their shift briefing. After that, they find the quiet spots where Drake can set up training aids (very small amounts of explosives) for Marcy to find. They also roam around campus to check the buildings and meet students.
While they work primarily on campus, her job also takes her across southeast Ohio, where she works in high schools, elementary schools, courthouses and anywhere else she might be needed in order to keep people safe.
Managing that woof-life balance
To relax after work, Marcy likes to play with Drake’s other dog at home, and she also enjoys a good game of softball.
“At about two we head home,” Drake explains. “Usually about 5 or 6:00, I feed her another two cups of food and it’s kind of a lay down and rest kind of night, that way after she’s had a hard day at work she gets to rest.”
Because Marcy is working when she’s on campus, she is often busy, but she still has time for a pat on the head or a handshake.
“Feel free to ask to pet her,” Drake says. “I’ve already noticed that as we’re walking by, I hear people kind of like ‘she’s so cute, but we’re not allowed to pet.’ Just ask. She’s super friendly. I’m super personable. I love talking to people, and Marcy loves getting loved on.”
Getting in touch
If you’re interested in learning more about police service dogs like Marcy, Drake suggests reaching out to someone from the Ohio University Police Department. They are always happy to do a demonstration for a classroom or a meet-and-greet.
Next time you’re walking around campus, keep an eye out for Marcy. Don’t forget to give her some extra love and tell her thank you for all the work she does to keep us safe.