Photo by Ambrosia Luzius

Canine Officer Rex follows a command from Officer Stoltz to lie down.

 

September 21, 2016

Officer 34.5 continues to be top of Ohio’s canine class

Cleveland State University’s canine Officer Rex, badge number 34.5, completed a Special Purpose and Explosive Detection Certification Sept. 8, just one of many Rex has received since he began his campus career.

The Department of Homeland Security hand-selected K-9 officer Rex from Holland to detect explosives. His natural hunt and play drives, as well as his high energy level put him at the top of his class when he began training at only seven months old.

After joining the police department at CSU in 2014 as part of a Homeland Security initiative, Rex and his handler Officer Edward Stoltz have worked daily to improve Rex’s explosive detection skills.

Rex and his canine colleagues are part of a growing number of explosive detection dogs nationwide. In the article “The Education of Bomb Dogs,” Smithsonian.com reported, “in 2000 there were only 15 canine explosive teams; after the fall of the twin towers, explosive detective dogs are everywhere.” According to the same article, “they blend seamlessly in the post 9/11 scenery.”

Rex has engaged in a bit of his own education in scenes on and off campus. He is trained to detect the 13 most basic core chemicals of explosives.

According to Stoltz, he is a fast learner.

“Rex can be imprinted to detect a new scent in only a half hour,” Stoltz said.

When their training began, Rex was not Officer Stoltz’s ideal dog.

“Rex has always been a goof,” Stoltz said. Over the first weeks of training Rex’s personality grew on Stoltz to become one of his most loved qualities.

Rex trains with the Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Association (RTA) police canines and officers once a week for five straight hours. He attends regular training sessions in Columbus with his handler.

Rex holds three certifications from the State of Ohio and one from the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA). NAPWDA, according to its website, certifies the proficiency of a dog’s work when it exceeds the regular standards and the work handler and canine, “can stand as acceptable court testimony.”

Rex answers calls in grade schools, high schools and colleges from Youngstown to Toledo. He is part of the state’s Homeland Security team. Rex assists other agencies around campus. Often his fellow canine colleagues back him up at CSU events.

Although he has accomplished many things, canine Officer Rex is a modest dog.

“He does not like to be focused on. If a bunch of people are staring at him or staring at me, he gets nervous,” Stoltz said.

Rex is able to redirect his nerves when he is working to focus on his job. He works even after he leaves campus and returns to his home. If anything is moved or is out of place, he goes to work sniffing it to make sure the Stoltz family is safe.

Rex knows when his two collars come off, his work day is over. That’s when the “goof” behaviors Stoltz mentioned return. That’s when he takes time to chew on his favorite Nylabone and enjoys time with his family.

Rex will be a member of the Stoltz family -- which includes two other dogs, two young children, Mrs. Stoltz and his best friend Officer Stoltz -- long after he retires from the force.

When he does retire from his favorite game of sniffing out explosives, Rex will most likely spend more time partaking in his second favorite activity: swimming.



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