A dog with a good nose can be policeman's best friend

One by one, the German shepherds walked into the room and began sniffing.

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Thor, a narcotics dog, plays with his chew toy after showing the children how proficient he is at locating hidden drugs.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Thor, a narcotics dog, plays with his chew toy after showing the children how proficient he is at locating hidden drugs.
Nikasha Dicks
North Augusta Today Editor
Twitter: @NAToday
E-mail | 706-823-3708

Moments later, they were sitting quietly. They had found their target through smell. Once their partner confirmed their finding, the dog got a toy reward.

The Richmond County K-9 Task Force held a demonstration July 13 at the Friedman Branch Library for an audience of about 30 people as part of the library's summer children's programming.

The dogs that participated were trained to look for either narcotics or explosives. For the demonstration, training aids were used in place of the real thing.

"When we look for a dog, we look to see if they have a high drive," Deputy Patricia Johnson told the audience. "By high drive, I mean they get really excited about something."

Usually that is determined by using a toy or some other item, she said. "If that's all they can concentrate on, then we know they are trainable," she said.

The task force's deputies also talked about the work life of a K-9 dog, noting that they are able to retire at 8 years old.

The dogs in the demo ranged from 19 months to 7 years old.

The task force holds demonstrations throughout the year. Johnson said many are put on during the summer for camps or children's programs and during Red Ribbon Week, which is devoted to drug education.

"Depending on (the children's) age, we'll also touch on the drug aspect and why it's important for them to stay away from drugs, what happens when you get involved with drugs and how it affects your life," she said. "We try to do more than just show what the dogs can do. We want to talk to them about making the right decisions."

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