Behind the badge: Blitz shows town of Carrboro there's more to her than being a police dog

CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- After roughly six trips to her squad car, a bathroom break, and some playtime in the yard, Officer Lori McLamb and her K-9 companion, Blitz, are finally suited up and ready to hit the road to patrol the town of Carrboro.

While McLamb has been wearing blue for four years, Blitz, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, is the real rookie. She joined the force just over one year ago, and getting there was no easy feat.

Like most police dogs, Blitz was hand-selected from a kennel. Then, she underwent evaluations to test her aggression, hunting, and environmental skills. After she passed, her training began.

McLamb said the pair trained for five days per week for 14 weeks, and her training still isn't finished. In addition to strengthing her skills on the job, Blitz gets the chance to train with two other dogs on the force as well as other departments.

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When working with canines in such a serious line of work, McLamb said it's important that they're trained to understand when they're on the clock.

"Blitz...she's a bit of a diva, and really, she wants what she wants when she wants it, and so we have to work on rules of black and white -- when you can have when you want," McLamb explained.

She said it's important for police K-9s to act less dog-like while on duty.

"It's just patience and teaching her to control herself. All that energy has to go somewhere and these dogs are taught to cap it and to control it and wait for that to be released."

So, what's the best way to keep this diva focused? Carrots and some circus tricks.

"You gotta have fun with it because it's such a serious job, so this is kind of our way when we're at home to just have fun," McLamb said. "You know, just to play and kind of bond over these foods and tricks and silly stuff because it is such a serious deal."

Like her human counterpart, Blitz works roughly 11 hours per day hunting and trying to apprehend suspects, searching for narcotics and evidence, and of course, keeping her fellow officers safe.

But there's more to Blitz than the badge. When her vest comes off at the end of the day, she's just a regular dog.

"Some of them can't turn it off ... you have to teach them how to live," McLamb said of police K-9s. "She has gotten that part down...When we go home and I take off her harness and her collar, she runs to the carpet and just starts doing back scratches on it and belly scratches, but yeah, once she gets her harness off, she gets her bone and starts running around and playing, and she's happy to be home."

It's a message the department is trying to shed light on with Behind the Badge: a weekly social media campaign that shows officers -- both human and dog -- are just like everyone else.

"I thought it was a great way for citizens to see that we're more than just a face wearing a uniform with a badge and a gun, we're individual people, we have personalities and interests," said Officer Cassandra Ferraro. "It's a way for the people we serve to see that we might relate to them in some way."

Even though the department wants to highlight the normalcy of police dogs, there is still one thing we can't always do: pet them. McLamb said that's because many of the canines are trained to apprehend criminals through pain control or bitting, which could lead to an unpleasant interaction if the dog is approached incorrectly.

"We can't predict what behaviors people will have when they pet them, it's just the safe thing to do," McLamb said.

While Blitz still has at least nine years until retirement, she seems to be happy in her current home with McLamb and her family.

"I have two children, two boys, and she has been great with them," McLamb said. "They come down in the morning, she gets belly rubs and is just part of the family and it's great. And yet, she can do all of the other things (police work) ... she's a pretty special girl."

While the dynamic duo has spent less than two years together, it's pretty clear they both have an unspoken oath they won't break: their bond.

"It's a very strong bond," McLamb said. "These dogs will do anything to protect people, protect you (officer), and it's an incredible amount of trust you develop. You give them a job and they're on it."
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