MASSENA — A member of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office gave a presentation to the Police Activities League of Massena without saying a word.
But she did sit, stand, jump and roam the room on command.
Deputy K-9 Knowlton was the star of the show as her partner, Deputy Sheriff Robert W. Lent Jr., put her through her paces to the enjoyment of the group of students.
K-9 Knowlton completed training in February at Phillips Command Dogs, a professional training facility in Olean.
“Being a police K-9, she has to be very well-trained. So she was trained for five months in a place called Olean,” Deputy Lent said.
He said she’s certified in tracking and narcotics detection. On K-9 Knowlton’s second official day, Feb. 26, she assisted the Canton Village Police Department during a traffic stop that resulted in four arrests and the recovery of 28.4 grams of cocaine, 14 pounds of marijuana and $24,000 in cash.
“She’s found drugs on cars, on people,” as well as rooms large and small, he said.
If somebody gets lost in the woods, K-9 Knowlton will be called to service.
“Their scent is going to be on the grass or the pavement or whatever the surface is. The bad guys that get away, she’ll find that person, too,” Deputy Lent said.
Initially, K-9 Knowlton was wearing a harness for the presentation.
“This is what I use when I go tracking with her,” he said.
Collars also play a role. One collar indicates she’ll be going tracking. A separate collar tells K-9 Knowlton that she’s on the lookout for drugs.
“When I want her to find drugs, I put this one on,” he said. “If she doesn’t actually do something, she gets a little agitated.”
Her reward when she finds a person or drugs isn’t a biscuit or some other treat.
“She works for a tennis ball or, it’s more or less a little toy,” Deputy Lent said.
Communicating with K-9 Knowlton is much like trying to communicate with a baby, he said.
“You talk to babies in a high voice. That’s how we talk to her because it gets her attention and she thinks she’s doing something good,” he said.
He demonstrated some of the commands, like sit.
“A lot of times when I tell her to sit, she’ll lay down because she knows that’s what I’m going to say next. She will stay there as long as I want her to. But if you watch, she keeps her eye on me. I can even turn around and she’ll lay down when I tell her to,” Deputy Lent said.
K-9 Knowlton is named after the late Keith K. Knowlton, who headed county law enforcement as sheriff from 1979 until 1999. In 1982, Sheriff Knowlton introduced the K-9 program that has since facilitated suspect tracking, searches for lost children and the discovery of illicit drugs.