Waf­fle, state po­lice troop’s new rookie, will work for food

The News-Times - - NEWS - By Ken­dra Baker

SOUTHBURY — The Connecticu­t State Po­lice force has a new mem­ber, and her name is Waf­fle.

The 2-year-old yel­low lab be­came Troop A’s new­est mem­ber about three weeks ago af­ter wash­ing out of Guid­ing Eyes for the Blind, said Lt. Christophe­r Bar­tolotta.

Guid­ing Eyes is a New York-based non­profit that trains and pro­vides dogs for peo­ple who are blind and vis­ually im­paired. The organizati­on no­ti­fies Connecticu­t State Po­lice when a dog isn’t fit for guid­ing, but may do well in po­lice work.

“Cer­tain dog per­son­al­i­ties are great for Guid­ing Eyes, and some are great for other as­pects,” Bar­tolotta said.

Waf­fle has a high propen­sity to be driven by food, which means she can be trained “very quickly and very easily,” he said — mak­ing for an “ex­cel­lent” nar­cotics K-9.

Waf­fle is in week three of a five-week ini­tial im­print training. Af­ter that, she will train for six weeks with her han­dler, Trooper Mike Houle.

“The han­dler will train her on a reg­u­lar, daily ba­sis — both on duty and off duty — and that’s how the dog gets fed,” Bar­tolotta said.

Houle and Waf­fle will go through a rou­tine each day to re­in­force and im­print ev­ery­thing Waf­fle learns dur­ing the 11 weeks of training.

“When they wake up in the morn­ing, they will go through a rou­tine where he sets up some blind de­vices so the dog can go try to find the nar­cotics. When the dog finds the nar­cotics, the dog is re­warded with food,” Bar­tolotta said.

“When they’re on duty and it’s a slow time, they will take off to ei­ther the bar­racks or go some­where safe and do the same type of training so that the dog is al­ways be­ing fed at dif­fer­ent times, but re­mem­bers that she has to find some­thing if she wants to eat.”

That way, when it’s time to work, he said, the dog re­mem­bers that it has to find some­thing.

With the ad­di­tion of Waf­fle, Troop A now has two nar­cotics dogs.

“We have two what we would call ‘solely-des­ig­nated’ — mean­ing all they do is nar­cotics — and then we have one crosstrain­ed dog that does nar­cotics and cou­ple of other things as well,” Bar­tolotta said.

Troop A wel­comed Waf­fle to the force with the help of stu­dents at Henry Ab­bott Tech­ni­cal High School in Dan­bury, who sold $10 T-shirts to sup­port the troop­ers’ pur­chase of the dog

Bar­tolotta said the cost to pur­chase Waf­fle was “a cou­ple thou­sand dol­lars.”

“What this school did was beyond our com­pre­hen­sion,” he said. “With the con­cerns in our state about opioids and other is­sues, the stu­dents came up with this plan to raise money for a nar­cotics K-9 to re­duce ac­cess to some of th­ese harm­ful drugs.”

Stu­dents sold T-shirts to school fac­ulty and staff mem­bers, as well as fam­ily mem­bers and friends — and they’re still rais­ing, Bar­tolotta said.

“They’re say­ing they want to buy an­other dog,” Bar­tolotta said. “We’re very humbled by their ef­forts and what they’ve done.”

Connecticu­t State Po­lice Troop A / Face­book

Trooper Mike Houle and nar­cotics K-9 trainee Waf­fle at Henry Ab­bott Tech­ni­cal High School in Dan­bury.

Connecticu­t State Po­lice / Face­book

Two-year-old Waf­fle is the new­est mem­ber of Troop A. Henry Ab­bott Tech­ni­cal High School stu­dents sold T-shirts to help raise money to pur­chase her for Troop A.

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