Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man may have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. 
Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privelge than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death. 
Sen. George Vest, 1870
Reprinted from Your Family Pet Magazine, courtesy Gaines Professional Services

The photo at left was taken at  the World Trade Center in NYC  in the aftermath of the worst attack on this country in its history, 11 Sept 2001. CSP K9 units and dog teams from many other agencies worked beyond exhaustion for many days during the intensive search for victims and survivors. When their work was done, they returned to their departments and their homes, to await the next call.
The real testament to a great working dog is that people still talk about him and his accomplishments long after he is gone. This dog's name was Thor.  His first handler, Trooper Carl Moller, was my closest friend.  Carl was killed in the line of duty on February 13, 1976. (Friday the 13th!) Thor and I were partners after that for six years.  He was truly an amazing dog, and only those who have shared the experience of being part of a successful patrol dog team will understand the special bond that exists between such a team. Thor was a great tracker and a "thinking dog". He was honored with a Commissioner's Special Recognition when he was retired from service. And he deserved it. He was one of the most intelligent dogs I ever worked with, and had an enviable record of "grabs" and successes. K9 Thor 1979
CSP K9

The Connecticut State Police have had a working relationship with dogs that extends back almost to the beginning of the department. In the earliest days, the department was among the first to regularly employ bloodhounds for tracking purposes. In the '60s, the CSP began training and using german shepherds for tracking, deterrent purposes, and recovery of evidence. A special unit was established, and dogs were here to stay. Over the years, the CSP K9 unit has been on the forefront of many advances in the use of dogs in police work, including specially trained arson dogs, drug detection dogs, and body recovery or "cadaver" dogs. CSP K9 teams are regularly called to assist throughout the state, country, and in other areas of the world. Because of their success, the K9 unit has provided training to a huge contingent of police and other agencies the world over. There are many people who are alive today because of CSP dog teams. And many more who have had their day in the justice system thanks to CSP working K9s.

Connecticut troopers who want to be part of the K9 unit are carefully screened to determine their suitability for the work. Being a dog handler involves much additional work,  requires excellent physical fitness, and a serious commitment. It also demands an individual who can function as part of a team, and who has complete faith in the ability of the team. Dog handlers and their dogs go places where others cannot or will not. Troopers who are dog handlers are not removed from their patrol function - rather they are expected to perform all the regular duties of a trooper, and the additional responsibilities of the specialty. Once selected as a trainee dog handler, troopers attend a training class which lasts four months. They are paired with a specially selected dog, and both learn the ropes together, beginning to form the bond that will make them a team. The training includes obedience, searching and tracking, aggressive work, evidence recovery, and a rigid physical fitness regimen. When they have completed the program, they return to their troop and put their skills to work. The dogs are part of the trooper's family, living at home with them and playing with their kids. There are no "cages" in CSP cruisers - these are dogs that are completely stable and happy, with excellent obedience - not man-eaters that are kept in kennels. When the dogs are "senior", they are retired and live out their years with the trooper and his/her family. Most veteran dog handlers will tell you that their years with their K9 were the best years of their careers. 
TFC Kerry Taylor & K9 Schutz TFC Kerry Taylor & K9 Schutz  TFC Todd Lynch
For a look at the history of patrol dogs in Viet Nam, which gave us a great deal of experience and knowledge about the abilities of K9 teams, please go to the Viet Nam Dog Handler Association pages. Hundreds of families in this country donated dogs to serve in Viet Nam, and they served faithfully. In its haste to withdraw, the government abandoned a huge number of these dogs, discarded as just another piece of equipment, left behind. Not one dog was returned, either to its handler or to the family that donated it.

photo from NJSP Troopers Fraternal Organization


Web page by Tom Seeley,
Lieutenant, CSP Retired
Page updated 3/27/14