And He’s a Very Good Boy
By Bob Weir
We’ve all heard of dogs being used by police departments for crowd control, bomb detection, and tracking fugitives through the scent on their clothing. But, none of those reasons apply to Ares, the newest canine officer in the Flower Mound Police Department.
Officer Ares is a 2-year-old Belgium Malanois with a happy disposition that would thrill any youngster (or oldster) who enjoys frolicking with one of God’s most lovable creatures. Yet, there is a serious side to Ares–he is trained to detect illegal drugs. When he does, he simply sits next to the source of the scent, giving a signal for his handler to respond.
Officer Rodney Adame is Ares’ handler and a veteran of more than 20 years with law-enforcement, including 2 years with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, 4 years with the Highland Village PD, and the rest with FMPD. The Department’s Belgium Malanois prior to Ares, named Paige, was about 10 years old and recently retired to Arizona with its handler.
Officer Adame and his supervisor went to San Antonio to select Ares from a trainer that teaches the dogs to specialize in a variety of tactics. In this case, the San Antonio facility trained Ares to sniff out illegal narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana. He’s what’s considered a “single purpose dog” that was trained for the specific needs outlined above.
It’s interesting to note that if one of the drugs that Ares was trained to detect became legal–like marijuana for instance–Ares would have to be relieved of his police duties. That’s because his training doesn’t allow for him to eliminate any one of the scents he’s been trained to detect. Hence, if he’s out on patrol with his handler and picks up the scent of cannabis, he reacts the same way as if the scent indicates heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines. Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to about 6 million in humans. Moreover, the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing scents is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than that of humans.
Officers Adame and Ares are not only partners on patrol, they live with each other. Ares is cared for by his handler, undergoes continuous training, and gets along wonderfully with the Adame family, especially with their 3 year-old son. During his time off, Ares enjoys playing fetch with the Adame family. His favorite thing is a black Kong chew toy that squeaks when he grasps it in his jaws.
While my wife and I were doing research for this article we met with Rodney and Ares at Flower Mound Police Headquarters. We couldn’t resist tossing the toy a few times and watching that marvelous animal catch it in the air unfailingly. It only takes a few minutes to fall in love with that adorable, fun-loving gift to mankind.
By the way, the canine unit performs patrol operations like other members of the department, except for the type of conveyance, a black suburban with Ares’ name on it in small print. Officer Adame uses the vehicle to patrol and return home after each tour with his canine buddy. For his expertise with Ares, Officer Adame is compensated with 30 minutes extra pay each day. Incidentally, any veterinarian needs for Ares are provided by the Flower Mound Animal Hospital.