Canines, handlers graduate from State Police Canine Handler School
ALBANY, NY (WRGB)--With the graduation of 15 teams Friday, New York State Police officially have the biggest K-9 unit in the nation.
Just like these massive, muscular dogs - the program started small.
"The State Police K-9 program began in 1975 with three teams trained in explosive detection in preparation for the 1980 winter Olympic Games which were held in Lake Placid," said NYSP Superintendent George Beach.
Now they have 103 K-9 teams, all trained in either narcotics or explosives detection.
The animals are trained at a 10,000 square foot facility in Cooperstown - and are certified in things like obedience, agility, tracking, and handler protection.
"When I first met Myer, well, he didn't know me, and actually he didn't even know his name, so we kind of inched along bit by bit, got to know one another, and created a great bond," said Trooper Thomas Lansing Jr. of the New York State Police.
Trooper Thomas Lansing says like most relationships - the bond between handler and K-9 is a lot of work.
"Sometimes I want to yell at him for being a dog, and sometimes he probably wants to yell at me for being a human!." he said.
But Trooper Lansing says it's all worth it at the end of the day.
"I cuddle him, rub his belly, feed him, tell him how much I love him, and can't go wrong with that."
But don't let the belly rubs fool you - with these dogs, the bite is just as bad as the bark: they're New York State Police officers - and now they're well trained to serve and protect.
The handlers and their dogs will serve in eight different State Police troops across New York.