Shelter dog trains for narcotics work with police

- Bear is an Australian Cattle Dog, or Blue Heeler, as it's often nicknamed.  His high energy "working dog" traits proved spot on when he arrived at the Central Florida K-9 Center for an evaluation to become a search dog.

Bear was surrendered to the SPCA of Brevard Adoption Center in Titusville after apartment living proved too difficult for both the dog and two different owners.  He served time as an office dog at the shelter before finding a second life as a narcotics dog-in-training.

"He's extremely smart, he thrives to work, really enjoys being around people," said Tracy Cooksey, a trainer and kennel manager at the K-9 center, "so coming from a situation where he was in a crate a lot, to be able to get out and do something that he loves, I think that's what makes him so great. He loves it!"

Repetition and rewards are the keys to honing Bear's skills as he prepares to graduate narcotics training this month.

"Once he understands odor, then we add blank boxes to that, so it makes it a little more challenging for him," Cooksey explains as she runs Bear through some drills, "so he needs to understand that, even though the boxes look very much the same, you need to go into odor. Once you're in odor, you get reward."
For Cooksey, her drive to discover a dog's true talent taps into her life's passion and purpose. 
"I love being able to take animals from the shelter and giving them a purpose, so it's very rewarding."


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