The Lunch Bunch meeting was held on September 23 at the Senior Center for their monthly lunch and program and heard Captain Tom Cronenwett, canine officer with the Mount Gilead Police Department describe the canine unit.

Cronenwett has been in law enforcement 28 years. He began the canine unit 12 years ago and does the training for Mount Gilead and other canine units. This takes about three or four months. The dogs are fully trained and ready to work without further training when the animal gets new owners.

His current dog, Nik, is eight years old and has been with the police department for six years. He came from Germany and had learned to respond to directions in the German language. He said some trainers have tried to change the training to use English. However, the dogs don’t learn as well as they do continuing their native language.

The dogs’ noses are many times more sensitive to smell than the human nose. They are trained to do variety of tasks. These include sniffing out several different illegal drugs, subduing law breakers, criminals and finding lost or harmed individuals.

When the dogs are brought to a traffic stop where drugs are suspected, if the dog smells drugs they sit by part of the car where they smell drugs.

If this happens the police can proceed with a search without getting search warrant. This can be held up in court.

While Cronenwett was talking Nik was quite excited to do his part of the program.

The dog sees the work as a game followed by a reward. Nik quickly located the small bag of marijuana that had been hidden in the room. His reward, a tennis ball to chew on until it was completely destroyed. He then went to the car for a break.

Nik receives donations from Petland and a local veterinarian takes care of his physical needs.

The program concluded with the answering of questions from the group.

Opening this meeting was Lunch Bunch president Marie Christiano who gave a devotional reading and prayer. Cookies were provided by Cathy Canfield and Phyllis Jiles.

Canine Nik and Police Officer Tom Cronenwett. Nik and Police Officer Tom Cronenwett.

By Evelyn Long

For the Sentinel