Cortland Police Department canine Lummel zig-zagged up and down the field Monday at Suggett Park in Cortland.
The dog, with his nose attached to the ground like a vacuum cleaner, was displaying his scent recognition skills — not to retrieve drugs, his usual routine, but an old cellphone.
“To give you an idea how good his nose is, if we walk into a house and somebody’s got spaghetti sauce on the stove, we go, ‘Oh, we can smell sauce,’” said Officer Ken Bush, Lummel’s handler. “Lummel goes, ‘Oh sauce. It’s got oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaf.’”
Lummel was the center of attention for park visitors during a demonstration on police dogs by the Cortland Police Department.
Bush talked about the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, what he’s used for and his training.
Demonstrations, such as Lummel’s strong scent used for finding drugs and his attacking capabilities, were also displayed to show some of the work he does. The latter came as Lummel lept and sunk his teeth into the arm cover worn by John Brown, a friend of Bush.
Bush said the bite force of a police dog like Lummel can be anywhere from 300 to 600 pounds. As an apprehension dog, Lummel can run 25 to 35 mph.
Lummel, originally from Belgium, was brought over to the United States, Bush said.
Bush then had to go down to Pennsylvania, where Lummel was brought, to train for six weeks and then brought back Lummel to New York.
He also lives with Bush and his family, coming to Bush’s home after work.
Bush said after the event that canine demonstrations like the one Monday are an “icebreaker for the community” by teaching residents about the dogs and what they can do.
Monday was the first time Betsy Davison’s children, 4-year-old Leo and 6-year-old Gertrude, had seen a police dog in the flesh.
“I just liked all of it,” Gertrude said. “I like dogs and I like seeing them do stuff.”
She said she wasn’t even scared when the dog sunk its teeth into Brown’s arm cover to demonstrate the dog’s apprehension method.
Bush said in years past, he would try to do a demonstration once a month during the summer, but that was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
He said he hopes to do another demonstration in August.