Don’t Move – and Remain Perfectly Still


I have the greatest respect for the brave women and men in our police departments. I’ve been especially interested in those, whose career path involves being part of a K-9 unit. As part of this human/canine team, an officer pairs with a dog that is highly trained in obedience, tracking, defending officers and locating illegal substances. The most common dogs trained for K-9 units are German Shepherds. This is due to their intelligence, strength, loyalty, and keen senses of hearing, and smell. I heard that poodles were once trained for work in K-9 units. Though intelligent and loyal, they encountered some problems integrating them into law enforcement. The poodles didn’t like to mess up their distinctive coiffures in suspect chases, would only ride in chauffeured vehicles, and failed to scare fleeing criminals, when the officer yelled, “Get him Fifi.”

Have any of you seen some of those “Cops” episodes on TV, where they bring in a K-9 unit to help with the apprehension of a suspect? Usually, some low-level drug dealer, or an armed robber of a local grocery store has eluded police, and is hiding in foliage by nearby houses, in trash strewn lots, or in dense thickets. In order to flush them out the officer will first yell, “Come out with your hands up, now, or I will release a police dog.” The dog at this time is going nuts, as he frantically strains at his leash, in anticipation of a swift and brutal apprehension.  You may have also noticed, the dogs are always huge and powerful canines, can only be handled by one specific officer, seem to really love their job, and for some reason – hate guys wearing baggy pants. I’m surprised, I don’t see more of them hanging out by the fitting rooms, in the big men’s clothing section at Wal-Mart.

I would think that dogs who are members of K-9 units, are at the top of the police dog hierarchy. Do you think police dogs hang out after their shift is over, and talk about how their day went? A conversation might sound something like this. “Hey Bart. How’s everything over at the drug sniffing unit?”

“I guess it’s better than my last job as a cadaver dog, which really stunk. Being a drug sniffing dog, does have its good points. I just love the look on the human’s face, after they just get off a plane from Columbia, and see me approaching. When I casually saunter up to them, they usually look like they saw a ghost, are sweating profusely, and are trying to swiftly put on a jacket to hide their “ Americans for Legalized Marijuana,” tee-shirt. I’ll slowly move behind them, as they stand frozen like a statue. I’ll then stick my nose right at their butt crack, and remain perfectly still. That’s the signal for my handler to say, “It looks like we need a cavity search.” You should see their faces, as any chance of getting away is crushed. It’s hilarious. I’m just worried that with all those states legalizing recreational marijuana, I may soon be in the unemployment line.”

“Well at least you’re not in the bomb detection unit, like Rex.  Hey, Rex. What do you think of your job?”

“It’s pretty crazy over here man. Especially, with all this talk about possible terrorist attacks. My handler seems to be a little on edge lately. I have a question. How come all of you have an officer holding the end of your leashes, but when I find a box that’s making a ticking noise, he ends up two blocks away, is praying over a rosary, and is huddled behind a huge barricade? It kind of ruins that saying about being man’s best friend, doesn’t it. If I could speak, I’d be telling him, “Okay, just this once; but it’s going to be medium rare steaks the rest of the week, you sleep on the floor instead of me, and I get to chase cars, terrorize the paper boy, and have fifteen minutes alone with Fifi, that hot poodle next door.

“What about you , Chomper. You have the coolest job of any of us. That K-9 gig, has to be pretty awesome. I can’t believe you get to take off after people, knock then to the ground, and then chew on their arms and legs, before your handler arrives. “

“I have to admit Spike, it is pretty awesome. Especially, since my human is slightly overweight, and can’t keep up with me. This usually gives me a few extra minutes of chewing time. They don’t call me Chompers for nothing. Plus, that guy with the camera never shows up until I’ve had five or ten minutes of fun. As soon as I see the light from the camera, I stop what I’m doing, wag my tail, and look innocent. The last thing I need is to become a canine, YouTube sensation. Besides, where else can you bite someone, and not get hit by that darn, rolled up newspaper?”

I was watching a rerun of “Cops,” the other night. In one of the scenes the police were trying to apprehend a suspect. He had led the officers on a long chase through a neighborhood, and was hiding somewhere in a wooded area. A police dog was released, and within minutes the suspect was on the ground, thrashing around and screaming, as the police dog shook him like a rag doll. As the police approached the suspect with firearms drawn, they started to shout, “Stop moving, stop yelling, and remain perfectly still.” The suspect who looked about 14, and weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, continued to scream and roll from side to side as the dog held him in a vice-like grip. The police, meanwhile, continued to yell. “Don’t move.” I don’t know about you, but it would be very hard for me to remain perfectly still, as a large dog with razor-sharp teeth was….. eating me alive! Luckily, after the police tasered the suspect four or five times, the dog reluctantly released his arm. The police officer, then patted the dog on the head, and said good boy. I guess that bit of positive reinforcement, doesn’t bode too well for the next suspect.

I had an experience with a police dog the other day. I was walking by a seemingly, unoccupied patrol car in the parking lot of a local Dunkin Donuts. The front seat was empty, and I failed to notice the wire mesh separating the front and back seats. I also missed the sign that said,

“Caution, K-9 Unit – If Given a Chance, He will Eat You.”

As I passed the rear window, I nearly had an unfortunate accident in my pants, as the dog lunged at the glass, gnashed his teeth, and barked ferociously. I have no doubt that if he had gotten out, I would have been dog food. At the same time, as I was slowly backing away, a police officer came running towards the car with a cup of Coffee in one hand, and a dozen donuts in the other. He then yelled, “Do not move, and remain perfectly still.”

“No problem sir – no problem,” I said, as I pretended I was a mannequin. Standing motionless, I watched the officer reach into the back seat, pat the dog on the head, say “Good boy, Chomper,” and hand him a donut, which he proceeded to wolf down in one bite. A few minutes later, while sitting in my car, with my hands shaking; I did a quick underwear check, and thought to myself – I truly hope that Fifi, isn’t in the mood.

2 Replies to “Don’t Move – and Remain Perfectly Still”

  1. Only you could think of writing a humorous post about K-9 units and carry it off with panache. I laughed and laughed as you described each of the different roles of the dogs in their voices. My favorite anecdote was the one that gave your piece its title. Very well done, Patrick.


    1. Sorry I’m late late with a reply to your great comment. I’m in the final weeks of having my first book launched. It’s been crazy. I appreciate your visit. I’m glad you liked the post. It’s funny, how humor can be found in the simplest, andmost ordinary things. You just have to dig a little. Thanks again, and take care.


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