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Sistersville Police Dog, Thor, Is Turning Two

By Staff | Jan 9, 2019

Photo Provided An older, file photo of Thor.

Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught and his loyal partner, K-9 Thor, will soon be celebrating Thor’s second birthday in January 2019. Haught and Thor have been together since Thor was 11-weeks-old, when he was personally purchased by the chief from a breeder in Virginia.

Now certified, K-9 Thor can detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Haught explained that having a police dog trained in narcotics allows the department and its officers to do more. Haught explained that because dogs can do things that humans aren’t able to do – such as separate and detect odors that are being masked – Thor has been a good addition to the police team. Haught described Thor as “another tool in the toolbox to keep drugs out of the community,” and a clear asset.

Detecting these odors isn’t a natural ability that Thor possesses. This ability came through the training Haught gave since he’s worked with the K-9. The chief stated the first step in training a dog to become a narcotics dog is to allow the dog to be a puppy. Once functional obedience is reached, Haught’s strategy is to slowly socialize the dog, getting it used to being around other animals, children, crowds, traffic, loud noises, and various other environments they might encounter while working. During this time, Haught explained, he teaches the dog how to use its nose to find things, before implementing the specific odors he wishes the dog to find.

To accomplish this, Haught’s philosophy is to use play. Thor began his training by learning to find his favorite toy using his nose and being heavily praised when he completed the task. Once Thor was continuously able to do that, the chief said he taught his dog to sense specific odors and hid those items in the toy, thus training Thor to recognize and find the smell. After this, Thor was trained to give a “final response” when locating the odor by sitting and looking to his partner.

Having trained one other police dog before, Haught said he was able to determine what worked and didn’t through trial and error. Because of this, training Thor was reportedly easier. Haught explained Thor is “ahead of the game.”

The chief reported that he thoroughly enjoys working with his K-9, and that his decision to add Thor to the team was a good move. With Thor turning two soon, reflection on how the dog came to join the team was natural. And with the police dog’s jovial character and determination to get the job done, it has certainly been a good two years.