A “confident and resilient” 8-week-old black Labrador retriever is the 100th puppy to enter the Penn Vet Working Dog Center research-based training program, and “he looks like he’s going to be a great pup,” says Annemarie DeAngelo, training director.
The puppy’s name is Casey, in honor of K9 Cassy who served at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.
“Casey has a lot of good attributes we look for in a puppy that young,” DeAngelo says. “His play drive is high. He’s social. He’s not afraid of things he wants to try.”
The Working Dog Center opened seven years ago, on Sept. 11, 2012, as a national research and development center for detection dogs. The Center was founded by Penn Vet professor and veterinarian Cynthia Otto, who monitored the health of dogs who conducted search and rescue after the attacks. The Center’s puppies are named in honor of those dogs.
Casey is related to Socks, the program’s first graduate who was among the first cohort of puppies trained at the Center. Casey’s father is a brother to Socks, who is now on the Penn Police force as an explosives detection dog, paired with Officer Julie Wesley.
“One hundred is a good number; that’s a lot of puppies to put through a program that started with seven puppies seven years ago, especially considering it’s a research-based program,” DeAngelo says. “Each one of those dogs has taught us something and given to this program.”
Of the 100 dogs, 66 were donated and 34 came through the Center’s breeding program, she says. Casey was donated on July 23 by Stephanie and Emily Kaiser of Kaiser K9 Scent Detection Training in Catonsville, Maryland. Most puppies arrive at 8 weeks old, from breeders all over the country, DeAngelo says. At the moment, 26 dogs are in training.
Casey will enter the basic foundation training program to learn skills including obedience, agility, search for odor, search for live humans, and direction and control, DeAngelo says.
“As he develops, we will see where he is the strongest and what he enjoys doing the most—that’s when they declare their major—and place him in a career where he will be the most successful,” she says.