First Take: Uncommon Scents Print
UW Police Officer Kenneth Johns and Kali. Photo by Sandra Hines.
Instead of sending a suspicious-looking package back to the lab for testing, UW police can now send the Lab to it. Kali, a 3-year-old chocolate Labrador, became a Husky in early February, after the UW Police Department received a federal grant to start its own canine unit. She and her handler, Officer Kenneth Johns, will respond to bomb threats and do preventive sweeps of public areas before big events. It takes a special kind of dog to be a bomb-sniffer—the kind most people would never want for a pet. It’s an almost overpowering desire to play, ironically, that makes certain dogs ideal for such work: They’re so keen to get the toy or the treat that they’ll perform any task required of them. That serious playfulness is something Kali has in common with the “scat-sniffing” research dogs at the UW’s Center for Conservation Biology. They’ve learned to distinguish grizzly droppings from black bear, and can even identify whale poop from the prow of a boat.