Dogs With a Badge: Writing stories about K9s
A few years ago, I was asked by my publisher to write a suspense story with a K9 dog as one of the main characters. I was excited and a bit intimidated by the task but I accepted the offer with anticipation. As a dog lover and owner, I found delving into the world of police dogs fascinating and challenging.
That first book had a drug-sniffing beagle named Sherlock. Having never been around a K9 unit, I watched many You Tube videos and read as much information as I could online. My enthusiasm for writing books about K9s exploded and I was hooked. But I wanted to see the police dog in action, without having to commit a crime.
Lo and behold, I discovered there was a conference for suspense authors. I quickly signed up and made the trek to the Midwest for the Writers’ Police Academy. For three full days, we were immersed in crime fighting and ways to make our writing more realistic. When I came home from that conference, I wanted more so I did some research and found that my local county sheriff’s department had a citizens’ academy. I immediately signed up and dragged along several writer friends.
I most enjoyed the K9 demonstrations with the dogs apprehending suspects wearing bite suits and a dog sniffing out drugs hidden in a car. Witnessing these remarkable K9s and their handlers in action was priceless. The bond between the human and dog is as strong as any pair of officers. They work as a unit and must trust each other with their lives.
Interestingly, the dogs live with their handler but are not pets. The dog is a tool owned by the law enforcement department and is very valuable, costing in the high thousands of dollars per dog. The handler and dog put in hours upon hours of training in the specialty or combination of specialties needed by the department.
It was also fascinating to realize how many different breeds are trained as police dogs. This information allows for variety in the type of dogs and specialties I use in my books featuring K9 units. I’ve had a Doberman who excelled at guarding and crowd control. An English Springer Spaniel trained in wilderness search and rescue. I learned why Labrador retrievers make for great water search-and-rescue dogs. And of course, the most common police dogs are German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for their drive and trainability in all disciplines.
I would highly recommend looking into conferences or inquiring if your local law enforcement has a citizens’ academy. The experience is well worth your time and effort if you want to write stories with K9 units and make them believable and realistic.
This last year I was asked to write a story with Military Working Dogs. I thought, how much different could that be? Quite a bit, as it turned out. Though the training is similar, there are differences. One difference I found interesting was when the dogs are deployed, they sleep beside their handler, but when on base, the canines are kenneled. Some of the language used with the dogs is different from that used by civilian law enforcement.
The largest military working dog training facility in the U.S. is Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit the base but I did read the U.S. Military Working Dog Training Handbook, which had a tremendous amount of useful information.
Writing stories with K9s has been so rewarding and given me a greater respect for our law enforcement and military. But I’m not the only one who likes to write books starring K9s:
“I love writing K9 stories because these animals are amazing. They don’t know danger but they love rewards for a job well done. They are the kind of loyal humans can’t be because they want their treats and playtime, no strings attached. Truly dedicated!!” New York Times bestseller Lenora Worth
“I love writing about pets, and incorporating animals into a suspense plot isn’t easy unless they serve a role so K9 stories offer the best solution. Besides, I love dogs!!” Award-winning author Laura Scott
“I so admire the men and women and their four-legged heroes who put their lives on the line every day for us, so am always thrilled to be able to combine my love of dogs and writing. Being able to honor our K9 officers and their partners by putting them into a story in very heroic situations is just a big bonus.” Bestselling author Lynette Eason
But let’s not forget the reader.
“There’s a biological reaction to the combination of being protected by a guard dog and a man in law enforcement. As a reader, I’m willing to go on an adventure with them because they feel like my personal security detail. Nothing beats an adorable dog to cuddle with and a man in uniform to love.” Jessie Smith
“K9s add their own personality to the mix! They are uniquely suited for their jobs. i.e., drug sniffing, bomb detection, even cadaver dogs. It’s also a strong relationship between four-footed and two-footed officers and almost seem as one.” Trixie Oberemebt
“For the simple reason that I LOVE dogs!” Jasmine Augustine
“I’ve always been fascinated with the unique level dogs have in helping with crime solving! First there is the special bond between dog and handler!” Valri Brown Western
Without the avid readers who enjoy books with K9 heroes, both two-legged and four-legged, there would be no place for these books that I love to write.