Big Barker Donates Beds To Middletown K9 Unit!

At Big Barker, one of our greatest sources of joy is lending support to the dedicated K9 units that protect and serve our local communities day in and day out. Recently, we had the pleasure of giving back to the Middletown Police Department K9s and their handlers. We donated Big Barker beds as a token of our appreciation for their tireless efforts in safeguarding the community and its people.

We firmly believe that these hardworking pups deserve recognition for their commitment, and providing them with the very best beds to relax in after a long day's work is the least we can do.

Though we couldn't meet these amazing K9s in person, we were fortunate enough to learn more about them from their handlers. Keep reading to discover fascinating stories about these incredible four-legged heroes!

Tell us about your two Koda and how he became a part of the family?

K9 Koda has been with the Middletown Police Department since August 2016. We traveled to Pennsylvania to Castle K9 and worked a bunch of dogs out. Koda's drive was exceptional. He was agile, quick and determined on whatever task he was given. We narrowed our search to three dogs and after a brief conversation with my then K9 Sgt. Clark, (who at one point was a K9 vendor himself), we both agreed Koda was the best pick.

What type of work do you and they do?

Koda is a Patrol K9 who also does a lot of community outreach. Since the beginning of our time together, Koda has always been a very social and obedience dog. We have always done K9 demos for schools, large events, and even just hopping out of the car on patrol for one kid (or even an adult for a demo and meet and greet.

I’ve always believed this is important in keeping K9 programs going because it’s vital for the community to know how valuable our working dogs are and how multi-dimensional they are as well. Koda’s trained in tracking, evidence recovery, criminal apprehension, obedience and narcotics detection.

How would you describe his personality?

Koda can go with the flow like anyone or anything I’ve seen before. We’ve had a tremendous amount of middle of the night call outs throughout our career and he goes from sleeping on his back with his tongue hanging out, to fully ready to work, under any conditions and for however long it takes in the drop of a dime.

In the K9 community we compare the dogs to a “light switch.” The same dog who’s leaning up against you allowing you to pet him and being funny, in the flick of a switch, is now on point and focused on the task at hand. If the situation dictates it, he can go from friend to enemy in the same time it would take for you to flick a light switch. What makes him special is how he can be so social, yet so dedicated at whatever task he’s given.

What is his favorite and least favorite things to do?

His favorite thing to do is whatever task it takes to get his reward. We have a ranking reward system in which there are specific rewards that are more/or less motivating for him. Overall, I have always been impressed with his speed, agility and endurance.

At work it’s definitely tracking and I’m fortunate to see his happiness at the end of a track when he knew he did a good job. Outside of work, he had always loved conditioning, running longer distances with me, sprinting and hiking. Obstacles are ultimately his favorite thing. There has been next to no obstacle he didn’t try to jump, climb or crawl through.

As far as least favorite I really don’t have one. It’s the handlers job to make any task fun and exciting with a good reward at the end if deserved. With that he always seemed motivated and happy to do anything work related. If I could pick out one thing he doesn’t like to do, that’s being inactive. He wants to exercise, train and get some work.


What is it like to work with Koda?

One part is that it’s like having your partner and best friend with you and the other part is like working with your kid. You have an awesome asset, and the best tool in law enforcement in my opinion with you every day.

With that comes peaks and valleys, which requires a certain personality of a handler who’s able to accept defeat and be brutally honest with themselves. Then work on what needs improvement. So that part is extremely enjoyable as you are always trying to be as well balanced as possible. The other part is the making sure he goes to the bathroom, stretches his legs, feeding, brushing, bathing… like you would with a child lol.

Sometimes he wines in the back, sometimes he’s right up front with me, some days he hangs in back to himself. There’s many good days, many bad days but no matter what happens you wake up the next morning with a clean slate.

What does a normal shift look like?

On patrol, our primary function is to respond and handle calls for service. If we should be needed somewhere else in the city, we can usually leave the call we’re on to handle the dog call, and another officer would take over our roll on that call if need be. In between calls you can usually find Koda and I at a park or private area where he has room to roam and go to the bathroom. I usually catch up on my reports at this time and take advantage of doing some K9 training as well. There’s some days we get extremely busy, so time management is extremely important to make sure our dogs are emptied, focused and ready to go in the case they are needed.

Throughout my shift I am constantly reassessing, when was the last time Koda went to the bathroom? How much water has he consumed? How long has he been in the car for? What’s the temperature inside the car? What’s the temperature outside of the car? We try to have the temperatures somewhat close (in car and out) so the dogs aren’t shocked if they leave the car and there’s an extreme temperature change. Again, this is just to make sure that when he comes out of the car, he’s fully ready to go with no distractions and less potential for injury. 

What is something you want everyone to know about K9 dogs?

They are truly special dogs that should be recognized as Police Officers. The things we ask them to do, and they do, are nothing short of amazing. Their drive, courage, dedication and eagerness to please sometimes makes you stop and just enjoy what you’re watching.

It’s funny, but in the K9 Academy, Koda was leaps and bounds ready to hit the road before I was. I needed K9 training more than he did. That’s how intelligent these dogs are. Loyalty is like nothing else. I can’t go or do anything without him following along. Makes it tough to leave him home for my personal life from time to time, but it just shows how dedicated and loyal they are to pleasing and working, it’s their life mission.

How did you hear about Big Barker?

Big Barker was gracious enough to donate beds to our K-9 unit about six or so years ago. They have always been extremely supportive for working dogs!

What are your first impressions of the Big Barker Bed?

We love it! It’s nice, big, comfortable, and elevated. Other beds have much less padding causing the dog to get up (and in our case at home) slip on the hard surface. That’s really just an ACL injury waiting to happen. Now when Koda gets up he’s immediately in stride. We appreciate you guys very much!


Thank you again to Matthew and Koda for the all the incredibly work you are doing in your community every day!

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