Canine Cop

SALAMANCA - A K-9 dog employed by the Salamanca Police Department and Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department has successfully searched for illegal activity, promoted drug awareness and found missing persons and cadavers; in his spare time, he has headed up Salamanca parades, but on Feb. 2, he will become a television star.

The dog is Robin, and his owner and trainer, Mary MacQueen, were recently nominated by the Buffalo Kennel Club for the 2008 American Kennel Club Award for Canine Excellence in Law Enforcement, where Robin received honorable mention out of about 1,000 dogs nominated for the law enforcement category. The Buffalo Kennel Club then paid for Robin and Mary to fly to Los Angeles to be honored. There, they were asked to do demonstrations. If that wasn't enough of an honor, they learned Animal Planet was invited to watch.

The two and their demonstrations will air at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 during AKC/Eukenuba's National Championship Dog Show when human interest stories about dogs are also aired.

''He does work usually done by more powerful breeds,'' said Mrs. MacQueen about the fact that Robin is a golden retriever capable of doing law enforcement work, in addition to being an American Canadian show dog champion, and is in the show dog hall of fame.

Mrs. MacQueen is a national dog trainer and breeder, who has worked for numerous police agencies including the Southern Tier Drug Task Force. She began training her first dog about 30 years ago, putting together her love for animals, outdoors, emergency medical knowledge and public service. She has trained Robin's family members, including his grandmother and mother and has other search dogs with whom she also works.

A Salamanca native, Mrs. MacQueen talked about her dog when the two were hired by the Salamanca Police Department. She said he has a passive alert and is not bite-trained so he is less of a liability to the department. In addition to doing successful law enforcement work, they also do ski patrol for Holimont and Mrs. MacQueen is an instructor for the Training Academy in Illinois.

When they are not on television, the two have been involved in combatting criminal activities and following the trail of people from their scents. Robin can follow a scent presented by Mrs. MacQueen, rather than just following the most recent scent he has sniffed. Mrs. MacQueen compared his training to an adult being able to find a color, not just any color, but the one a person is told to find. to colors. Her dog is also trained in article search.

Once, Mrs. MacQueen said, Robin took off in a field after it was thought all evidence was found in a case. But, the dog's tail kept wagging at a certain location: Mrs. MacQueen went to see what the dog found: a $600 global positioning system an officer dropped during the police work being conducted.

''They amaze you every day,'' she said about the dog.

If achievements such as that find didn't make Robin's head big, just wait until Feb. 2 when his television debut is aired.

By Sharon Turano

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