Monday, April 8, 2013

Military and Police Dogs - Information for Writers

      ANGEL and WINGS

Character Designation:   HEROES

Meet Angel and his K9 Wings (K9's name created by Fiona Quinn to protect his identity). I'm only using Angel's first name for security reasons. He pronounces it Angel and not An-hell as in his Italian/Puerto Rican background, or even Ange as they pronounce it in his new home in Switzerland.

I "met" Angel online six years ago. We were both fighting a crime, trying to take down a criminal who abused dogs and preyed on medically fragile children. (And we were successful - this perp. is no longer allowed to work with dogs or children.) So my contact with Angel has only been over the web.

When I first started corresponding with Angel, I was rather taken aback. He only wrote in CAPITAL LETTERS - ABOUT EVERYTHING, whether it was just to ask how I was doing, or offering me some information about our case. I thought he was permanently angry and shouting. Luckily, Angel released his CapsLock, and I got to know him better. A great friend - but your worst enemy. Here's hoping I always stay on Angel's good side.

Angel has the conviction, fortitude, and power that makes sense of that CapsLock writing. An ex-Marine with all of the Hoorah that that encompasses. I saw a cartoon once of a maze and then a path that had been cut diagonally through the center, a beeline from START to FINISH, no corners turned. It was captioned something like "If you don't understand this, you are not a Marine." And that's Angel. Once he's convinced of the straight path, he takes it. Get out of his way. And if you're the bad guy... RUN!

Fiona: Hi, Angel. Would it be okay if I interviewed you about your work with Wings?

           (Wings is a highly trained working dog and Angel's partner).

Angel: Oui, Ca va.

Translation - "Yes, that works." Angel speaks American, Spanish, French and enough German to work

                    with his K9His dexterity with languages serves him well in his job. He lives in Switzerland
                    and works for a company that provides personal protection for diplomats as well as the rich
                    and famous who come through town. (He also protects ships from Somalian pirates - so
                    hopefully he'll agree to another blog interview so we can read about that!) His job is the stuff of
                    movies and thriller books.

Fiona: What is your background with the military/security?

Angel:  Well I was in the Corp. (Angel was a Marine - Whoops. Angel e-mailed me to remind me ONCE A

            MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE. Noted.) When I left the Corp, I started doing armed security
            officer (Body Guard) assignments. I've always had a love for dogs, and I always felt training was
            important. When I moved to Switzerland, I really got into close quarter protection and wanted to
            bring a K9 in as a partner. So I bought a K9 from a reputable place that believes that in order to
            have a great K9, you first have to train the handler to work as a team and to trust your K9 Partner.

Angel in a Training Session. 

Fiona: Let me stop you there, is there a difference between a police and a combat dog, sorry K9?

Angel: There is ONLY one difference between a tactical police K9 and a combat K9. The difference is that

           a combat K9 works in a war zone and the tactical K9 does not. Other than that, the training is not

Fiona: Thanks. Okay, go on with your story. You bought a K9...

Angel: I went to Florida and started my training. Now, in training I didn't just work with my dog. I also

          worked with all of their dogs. The group trained dogs for the military and for the police. I worked
          with labs German Shepherds and  and Belgian Malinois. It was Amazing.

Angel and Wings on Duty

FionaIn law enforcement - could just any police officer be placed in the K9 unit? Or are there specific men

           and women who only work K9? LINK to dogs at work (Delta K9 - not Angel and Wings)

AngelLol that's funny. Well in most cases they choose guys that have proven themselves to be good,

          but all departments are different. They have different standards. For instance, some K9s are trained
          in "bark and hold." Now, "bark and hold" is when the K9 is sent after the criminal, the criminal stops
          running, puts his hands in there air, and gives up. The K9 will stop right in front of the criminal and
          bark. If the criminal moves and try's to run, the K9 will attack without a command. Some departments
          train that when a command is given, the K9 doesn't stop unless the handler gives the command, or the
          K9 can't get to the criminal and barks to let us know where the criminal is, i.e. like in building searches

Fiona:  Is Wings trained in "bark and hold?" Or, attack?

Angel: Wings is trained to attack the threat. 
Now, Wings was trained in the U.S. In the U.S. the dogs are
           trained to go until they are told to stop. This helps to prevent the dog from getting stabbed or shot 
           which is likely in the bark and hold. Here in Europe, they think they have seen everything. So Wings 
           and I  did several exercises that the officials ran to watch our team in action. I told the "criminal" to 
           stop; he did not. I sent Wings out. Wings caught up with the man, bit him in his back shoulder, and 
           flattened the man -  knocked the wind out of him. The man playing the "criminal" didn't cover his
           head like he should have, and Wings went for his face. I called Wings off before Wings could sink his
           teeth. That's why obedience is very important.

Fiona: I bet that poor guy was terrified! So the take down is a bite to the shoulder?

Angel: Wings will see a threat if you attack any part of my body. For example, in the next part of the

           exercise,  I don't tell Wings to attack; he attacks on his own to simulate a real life situation where I
           can't make a command. The "criminal" tries to kick me, and Wings attacked his leg. The "criminal"
           tried to punch me, Wings let go of leg and bit the arm before the "criminal" could make contact with
           me. The "criminal" tried to hit me with the other fist; Wings let go of the arm, bit him right in the chest,
           put him to the ground.

FionaGo Wings!

FionaSo that makes sense that the dog has several take downs, and I can see why you would want
          different tools in Wings's tool box for handling a situation. How is Wings rewarded?
Angel: If we do obedience, then it's a ball. If we do obedience attack, it's the bite. If it's
          drugs, it's the ball. If it's SAR work, it's the ball. If it's a SAR bad guy, it's a bite
Fiona: SAR. Can you tell me what that is? And are there other phrases that a K9 handler
          would use that would make a writer's work more accurate? Also, do you train in a
          foreign language like German?
Angel: SAR is Search and Rescue. Wings is a dual-purpose K9. He is trained in
           patrol/protection and narcotics. There are also dual explosive K9s, as well. Dual
           means the dog either dose narcotics or explosive with tracking and handler
           protection. You can not have a K9 certified in both narc and explosives. It's
          dangerous  -- if the K9 alerts to drugs but it's a bomb, you're dead. The K9 knows
          the difference, but if you have a mixed signal then you're dead.

           Most of the K9s in the U.S. are imported. They are trained in German, Czech, or

           sometimes French. But remember every police department is different, and the laws
           are different for every state.

           Wings knows German, American, and French but mostly German. One of the

           biggest reasons for this that the handler doesn't want the bad guy to give commands
           to the K9 thereby confusing the K9. From what I've seen, if you have a great bond
           with the K9, he won't listen to anyone but the handler -- even if they know the
           language and correct commands. I've proven it. When training here, part of the
           police test that I had to take here went like this: the police tell you to release your K9
           and let him play. Then they have a group of people call his name, give him 
           commands, everything you can think of. After the test the police and boarder patrol
           asked to buy Wings. I told them in a stern manner that THEY HAVE A BETTER
           CHANCE IN SEEING GOD ! ! !
Fiona : Bahaha Amen. I love that. Okay one more question.What does a typical day look
           like for the team? Okay more ??s What do you call the dog part of a team? And can
           you think of any other weird little special do's and don'ts that a writer could use to
           make their stories more accurate?
AngelHere in Switzerland we use K9 Team the U.S.  we use K9 Unit ... Also, I should be
          clear that police K9s are also called police service dogs. MWD is a Military Working
          Dog. There is a big difference in the drive of  police K9 and a military K9 and a
          regular ADA service dog (one used for medical reasons). Military and Police K9s
          have a ton more energy and are no where close to being laid back like the labs you
          see as service dogs. The military K9s have to be WORKED if not they go crazy.
          Also, back in the day, police and military picked the craziest most AGGRESSIVE
          dogs they could find. That's not the case anymore. Now they pick clear headed K9s
          that they can bring anywhere without a problem. The K9s you see today are more
          effective than back in the day.

         About our day: 
         Before going to work, I take Wings out, and he goes pee and poop. LOL. Then I say
         to him, "Let's go to work," and we start obedience training. When done (it takes 10 to
         15 min. Never push the dog long in training)I load him into the SUV. From there, it
         depends on what the job is sometimes we are protecting a celeb's house or an event 
         ... We patrol the area and keep the peace. There is always someone stupid drunk or
         on drugs.. 

FionaI just posted a picture on my author page on Facebook about a dog named Ape who
          was FBI killed in action - do you know his story? I can't find it.

AngelHerkimer, N.Y. - Thursday morning FBI agents and officials stormed a building to
          end a daylong standoff.
         The gunman inside was Kurt Myers, 64 of Mohawk, and he is responsible for 
         shooting six people on Wednesday morning. Four of those men shot died, two more 
         remain in the hospital. Two of those killed were longtime New York State 
         Corrections Officers. The shootings occurred at a barbershop near Myers' apartment 
         and a car wash a mile away in the Village of Herkimer.
         Myers began a standoff with police inside a vacant building on N. Main Street in
         Herkimer late Wednesday morning. Early Wednesday afternoon he exchanged gunfire
         with police.
         Thursday morning New York State Police and members of the FBI, with support 
         from local police, raided the building to end the standoff. Myers shot and killed an 
         FBI K9 dog named "Ape" before authorities shot and killed Myers.

In case you should think that Angel's work is all fun and games with his K9 - here are some pictures to show what can happen when he is working a dog. The handler had a glitch in his training, though Angel is quick to point out that he (Angel) should have done a better job protecting himself: 


A K9 (not Wings) tried to remove Angel's ear.

Fiona: GROSS!!!!! Do you have an excellent scar now? Do you look like a pirate?

AngelLol. There is a scar, but I had a great surgeon. I have scars all over my body. I'm always doing things that can Kill me. LMAO

FionaI've noticed   >_<

If you have questions for Angel - just post them below.

Also, Angel bought his K9 at There is more information about K9 work dogs available.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. Wow, and that's a cool picture of how effective these dogs can become. a
    Rip Ape

  2. I'm wondering if K9s in police work and the military are routinely spayed and neutered. In addition to health benefits for the K9s, I would think being fixed would make them easier to train, take commands, and stay more on-task for their work. Thanks in advance!