CRESTVIEW — A Crestview Police Department K9 officer has some new friends among the Walker Elementary School Owls.
Officer Sonic and his handler, Officer Jay Seals, visited Liz Bears’ third-grade class May 25.
With just one more day of school, Sonic’s visit brought back to the halls of academia about 16 young minds that had already begun drifting toward summer vacation.
Seals explained that Sonic, a 4-year-old German shepherd, has been his partner for
about three months, lives with Seals and his family, and is rarely not by his side. The team trains together and plays together.
When Sonic’s previous partner left the police department, Seals was among several officers who applied to the K9 division for the chance to work with Sonic. When Seals’ application was approved, the partners headed to Alabama for a two-month training program, which included bonding as a team.
After the students, Bears and Walker Principal Lorna Carnley had an opportunity to ask Seals questions and pet Sonic, the K9 demonstrated his prowess at detecting illegal narcotics.
Seals hid a marijuana-scented training aid in a cabinet in the back of the classroom. Distilled from actual cannabis, the inert substance still carried the scent of marijuana.
As Seals led Sonic around the room, directing him to detect narcotics, the K9 needed only seconds to home in on the cabinet in which the fake dope was hiding and sat down, the “alert” signal he gives when he finds narcotics.
Like the CPD’s two other K9s, Cody and Hero, Sonic has a 100 percent accuracy rate in detecting illegal drugs.
Seals explained that the dogs’ scent receptors are hundreds of times sharper than humans’.
“Everybody likes Little Debbie snack cakes, right?” Seals asked, resulting in an almost unanimous show of hands. “When we have a Little Debbie cake, we smell the sweetness, mostly from the icing. Sonic smells everything, including what’s inside the cake.”
The students also learned a bit of geography when they noticed that many of Seals’
commands are given in a foreign language.
Seals explained Sonic received his initial training when he was a puppy in the Czech Republic. But though he’s a German shepherd, his instructions are largely given in Dutch by an American handler.