Canine Officer Obi, a 14-month-old Springer Spaniel, started work last month as UC Berkeley’s new explosive-detecting dog. Obi was abused as a puppy in Wyoming, before a police dog trainer rescued him and brought him to Berkeley.
Now Obi lives with UCPD Officer Sal Lopez, who works with the pup all day and takes him home each night. (Meet Obi in the video, above, shot by Perla Shaheen/UC Berkeley.)
“He was treated very bad, abused physically, emotionally and deprived of food,” Lopez said.
At first Obi had trouble adjusting. “He was very skittish, he didn’t want to be petted. Large crowds still overwhelm him at times,” Lopez said.
But as his trainers gave Obi attention and praise, he started coming out of his shell.
Obi’s favorite activity is playing with the ball carrying the fake smell of explosives used to keep his nose in top-notch form. Police use Obi to check for explosives before major events like football games or concerts.
Obi spends his weekends playing in the backyard with Lopez, his wife and their 1-year-old son. “I know my son, every time he wakes up in the morning, he has to go see Obi,” Lopez said. “Obi has a whole big yard.”
But Obi knows it is time for work when Lopez puts on his special police collar and vest.
Lopez thinks Obi works extra hard because he was abused as a puppy.
“With Obi, he has that little extra; it is hard to explain, but when you give him that reward you can tell he is really excited about it, he really appreciates it,” Lopez said. “He does his work with an extra little bit because he knows he’s going to get to play with you after it is over.”
This story was first published by Berkeley News on March 26, 2018.