Boom Dog

Full-time training mode  | February 4, 2014

Boom Dog trainingMy tests are getting closer now, so I’m in training full-time. Even on Bill’s days off, we train in the basement or something.

We’re training a lot now because it’s getting harder. I know six odors, but Bill’s getting tricky about how he puts them around for me to find. He’s hiding them in things like drawers, not just in paint cans. My first trip around a room to search for bad stuff is too fast because I’m too excited. I just really, really love my job. On the second pass around, Bill helps me focus and slow down. I have to think, “Concentrate, Nitro. Concentrate.”

I’m also learning about my prey drive (don’t worry, I don’t need a license for it). We practice chasing down the bad guys. Bill or Rick, the security officer who is pre-servicing my sister Xena, puts a special sleeve on their arm. Then they put us on a bungee cord and get us all excited about getting the sleeve. It’s pretty funny to watch Xena, though. She’s not as big as me, so she goes running on the bungee to get the sleeve and if she doesn’t get it, the bungee slingshots her back. She’s tough, though. She gets right back up and chomps that sleeve!

I do have some sad news, too. Starr is in semi-retirement now. Bill thought she could make it to the fall, but her hips are giving her problems and she can’t get in and out of the truck. So, he’s teaching her to be a house dog like Penny, the puggle who lives with Bill. Penny’s used to having the run of the place, so when Starr started sitting on Penny’s rug, there was a staring contest. But Starr is way bigger than Penny, so she got the rug.

We were thinking about having a retirement tea for Starr sometime. Would you all like to come? We don’t know when it will be yet. Starr wants to go to the groomer and get her hair and nails done first. When she gets all that junk done, I’ll let you know.

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Challenge accepted  | January 15, 2014

Nitro opening a present

Hi everyone! Hope your holidays were nice. My first Christmas was pretty fun. There was even a present under the tree for me. I unwrapped my very own chewy thing that Bill calls a knuckle. Whatever you call it, it was delicious!

Nitro opens his presentIn other news, Bill had to get me a wire crate because I ate my plastic one. Actually, I shredded it trying to escape. Bill seems to think the wire crate will keep me in better, and to that I say, “Challenge accepted!”

My training is going really well. I hope to be able to take my first official bomb dog test in the spring. I know quite a few odors now, but that’s just the beginning. Bill is going to start putting other odors out to help me learn the difference between something that can hurt people and something that can’t. I really have to focus now and slow down. I just get so excited when I’m sniffing around that I pass up bad stuff. But I’m determined to be a great boom dog!

I hear this is the hard part and we’re both probably going to get frustrated trying to learn this stuff. But I know I can do it, and Bill knows I can, too.

We just have to stay focused… squirrel!

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Happy holidays | December 23, 2013

Bill and I wish you all happy holidays, merry Christmas, and happy New Year! We’ll see you in 2014.

Merry Christmas from Nitro

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Living with me is a hoot | December 18, 2013

Star is almost as popular as I am.

Starr is almost as popular as I am.

You all know I live with Starr, Bill’s current security dog. She’s older than me and more experienced, of course. But sometimes I think she feels like she’s living with a four-legged tornado – me!

I follow her around everywhere. She’s been a mother to me, really. When she barks at the valets at work, I bark at the valets. Sometimes, between the two of us running from side to side in the security car, we can get it rocking pretty good.

She used to help me go outside to go to the bathroom, but now I just have to blow by her. She walks through the house nice, but I take a different approach, which ends up with me knocking into her and me crashing into walls.

Then I try and be funny and block her way in the door so she can’t go outside. Ha! But she knocks me over and I get all muddy, which Bill doesn’t like because I get it all over. Bill will be very happy when the ground finally freezes. I’m such a boy when it comes to playing in the mud.

Sometimes Starr gets let out of the crate and I don’t. I don’t like that very much because I want to see what’s going on. So I’ll get all crazy. Bill swears I’ll flip my crate one day. Challenge accepted, Dad!

Anyway, I wanted you all to know what a great dog Starr is and that she’s been a great teacher for me. Even if I am a wild boom dog.

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Tales of being a teenage boom dog | December 9, 2013

Can you believe I’ll be 9 months old on Dec. 19? Bill says I’m in my know-it-all teenage years and that I’m all gangly and clumsy. But I’ll outgrow it. Speaking of outgrowing things, I’m already in a 22-inch collar!

Bill is hiding bomb stuff in drawers and cabinets now. He leaves the drawers with the bomb stuff open, but soon he’ll start closing them, which will make things even tougher. The tricky part is learning how to sit when I smell it, instead of sitting when I see the paint can. Whichever way, I know there’s a hot dog involved if I get it right, so I’m  working hard.

The video here is of me taking my first test. Bill was real proud of how I did looking for bombs. Oh, speaking of videos, Tammy is awesome. She’s the lady who takes most of the photos and videos of me. She calls herself my photographer and she’s great. She doesn’t even flinch when she’s recording me and I jump on her. She just pushes me away and tells me to go find the bomb, which is what I’m supposed to be doing anyway and not mugging at the camera.

I’m also learning how to heal now. When I’m walking nice next to Bill, sometimes I still get real excited to see people and I lose it for a minute. I’m not mean about it, I’m just happy to see everyone and I can’t help it. I’m also learning to shake paws/hands with people. I figure that I’ll have to be nice to people more often than scary, so it’s important to learn good manners. I started learning to shake because in the truck when we’re driving to work or home, I’ll sit in the back and put my paw up on his shoulder as I’m helping him drive. We’re buds.

(P.S. Bill wants Nitro’s friends to know that there will be something for the pup under the tree on Christmas morning. It’ll be all wrapped up and Bill is looking forward to seeing how Nitro does with the paper. Also, it’ll probably be a big rawhide bone, but please don’t tell Nitro. You wouldn’t want to spoil his first Christmas.)

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On seeing my first snowflakes | November 18, 2013

nitro_sevenI got a special surprise the other night! Bill and I got home from work and when I got into the backyard to go potty, there was white stuff falling out of the sky!

I was jumping up in the air trying to catch it and eat it. Bill couldn’t figure out what I was doing. He thought I was nuts! Then he remembered this is the first time I’ve ever seen snow.

It was pretty tasty! I can’t wait to see more. Maybe we can build a snowdog. Or make snow dog-angels.

I’m gonna be a Boom Dog, so I learned another three bomb scents. I hope I can get tested in the spring. Bill is getting sneaky with my training. Instead of just leaving the paint cans with the bomb stuff in plain sight, he’s hiding them in drawers and making it much harder. Sometimes it’s confusing because I smell the bad stuff, but I don’t see a can so I don’t know what to do. I’m learning, though!

My first Thanksgiving is coming up. I’m working that day, but Bill says maybe I can have a piece of turkey. Then he said maybe if I have turkey the trip-toe-fan will make me sleepy so I’ll chill out a little. Whatever that means…

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Training continues | November 8, 2013

Sorry it has been so long since my last update, but I promise, my training has been ongoing! I’m searching rooms for the bad stuff now, not just paint cans. I know the scents for three explosives and I’m getting pretty good at my obedience training, so Bill is going to start me on practicing for my professional certification. I’ll be an official Boom Dog!

The way I learn is like this – Bill puts a special collar on me. We call it my bomb collar. When he does that, I know it’s time to work. I’m in a 20-inch collar now. It was pretty funny. I went from an 18-inch collar to a 20-inch collar in a week and a half. Well, I thought it was funny.

I weigh a little more than 62 pounds now. When you and I first met, I was barely 25 pounds! My seven-month birthday was October 19 and I celebrated by trying to steal and eat Bill’s Halloween candy.

Have a question for Nitro or Bill? Leave a comment below:

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My nose knows | October 8, 2013

Here is a quick video of me inspecting and sniffing some vehicles for explosive materials. How do you think I’m doing so far?

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Taking a bite out of our vacation | September 2, 2013

big dogI’m back from vacation and refreshed. Only a little bit of indigestion is still hanging around from chewing a hole in Bill’s camper.

See, I’m in the last phases of teething. I’ve been chewing on everything—toys, Bill’s boots, the camper. It’s the only thing that makes me feel better. Hopefully it’ll be over with soon. My baby teeth are popping out (sadly, there’s no such thing as a Doggie Tooth Fairy) like crazy.

You can understand how it happened, can’t you? When Bill went sailing for a couple of hours and my teeth started bothering me, I just started gnawing away.

Another milestone for me is that my ears are standing up more and more every day! It makes me look taller and cooler. I can’t wait until they’re up all the time. Plus, I’m weighing in around 45 pounds these days, so I’m about halfway to my adult weight.

My training has been tough because of the teething. I get even more easily distracted. But so far, I’ve learned the smells for smokeless powder, C-4 and TNT. Bill decided to try me out on some apprehension training, too, since I was looking a little bored with the other stuff. So they got out this sleeve thing and I thought it looked like fun, so I jumped at it. It was sweet!

I’m going to be a big Boom Dog soon!

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A visit to Safety City | September 2, 2013

Bill and I had the chance to visit some of the children at Safety City U.S.A. Some of the kids helped explain why it is so important that I continue to train. Bill also mentions that I’ve been gnawing a lot because I’m losing some of my baby teeth!

barGone campin’ | August 16, 2013

boom_dog_campingHi guys. Sorry, it’s been a while, but I’ve been on vacation with Bill. Yup, that’s right. I’m just a few months old and I’m already on vacation!

When I get back, I hope to have some really fun things to tell you. I just hope I don’t get bit by another pesky bug.

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Meet my family | July 29, 2013

Hi. It’s me, Nitro again. I’m 16 weeks old now, so I think it’s time to introduce you to my family.

I was adopted by Beaumont from Bay City, but I didn’t come here alone. My sister came with me. This is Xena:

Xena & NitroWe’re litter mates. She doesn’t live with me at Bill’s house, though. She lives with Officer Rick Warznie and his dog, Storm. Rick and Storm are on the K-9 team at Beaumont with Bill and Starr. Storm is six years old and he’s a Dutch Shepherd, which means he likes to wear wooden shoes around the house… just kidding!

So, we’re all shepherds, it’s just Storm looks like a Lab.

Xena and I are training at the same time to be Beaumont security dogs. We are both learning how to protect people, obedience and even explosives sniffing. We’re not sure yet who will be Xena’s handler. It might be Rick, but it might be someone else. We’re just going to keep on training and working hard.

So, that’s my family—Bill, Starr, Rick, Storm and Xena, plus me, Nitro. The little Boom Dog.

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Nitro’s first training exercise | July 12, 2013

Yippee! I had some training smelling for explosives and it was awesome.

What happens is – Bill puts some black powder in a jelly jar and then he puts the jar in a paint can. Then, he puts a couple of other paint cans out with stuff in them like crayons and laundry detergent to try to fool me. I’m supposed to sniff around until I smell the black powder, then I’m supposed to sit. Then, I get a bite of hot dog if I get it right!

It’s great.

Check out this video of me. You can tell by all the cheering going on that I’m doing a good job. I’m so proud of myself. Boom dog!

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Training is about to begin | July 1, 2013

Nitro trainingI did it! I can sit well enough that Bill is going to start teaching me to smell for explosives. That’s the kind of security dog I’m going to be – a bomb-sniffing dog.

I had to learn the command “sit” first because with bomb sniffing dogs, that’s what we’re supposed to do when we smell something that could hurt people. When I’m fully trained, like Starr, Bill will know if something is there that shouldn’t be when I’m sniffing around and I sit down.

We’re going to start with black powder and move on to other things as I’m ready. We’re really trying to have me fully trained by next fall, so I have a lot to learn!

You can probably tell from the picture that I’m growing fast. I’m supposed to be about 90 pounds when I’m full grown. Bill (dad) also says the coloring of my fur is starting to change and I’m getting a dark stripe down my back, but since I can’t see my back, I’ll just have to take his word for it. My ears still aren’t standing up all the time, but I can get at least one of them up now. Just have to work on making them both go up at the same time. It’s harder than it sounds, trust me.

Dad took me camping for the first time. It was pretty fun. Starr came too and we met some other dogs. I really liked a Lab that was there. We got along great! Plus, I got to do one of my favorite things – carry around sticks and branches. It was cool for a little boom dog like me.

If you want to ask me or Bill any questions, please leave a comment here. We’ll be happy to answer them.

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Please don’t call me “Squints” or “Megaphone” | June 17, 2013

Nitro and his puffy eyeI don’t know what happened. Honest.

When I got up to have my last potty break of the night on Thursday, my eyes were all puffy and I could barely see. So dad took me to the emergency vet.

The doctor said I had an allergic reaction to a bug bite and had to take some medicine that would make me all loopy. Then he put a cone on me.

Nitro with a coneI’m so embarrassed.

It’s hard to sniff around with this thing on. When I go outside and smell the grass, I scoop up dirt and sticks. Blech. Plus, I keep running into things.

Whatever a bee or spider is, I’m staying away. This stinks.

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Let’s go for a walk | June 14, 2013

The weather has been so great that I decided to take Starr for a walk! I led her around the yard (although I think she was letting me win).

Nitro takes Starr for a walk

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Nitro begins training | June 10, 2013

Hi. My name is Nitro and I’m three months old and this is my blog.

nitro_gloveMy human dad’s name is Sgt. Bill Ferraras. He works in Security at Beaumont, Royal Oak. He has a big security dog now and her name is Starr. But she’s getting old and wants to retire, so I’m being trained to take her place next fall.

Starr is my friend. She taught me to go potty outside and when I don’t pay attention and Bill calls us into the house, she yips at me and I hop to it. I don’t like wearing my leash, but Starr is ok with it. So I like to hold her leash in my mouth when we go out sometimes.

Even though I’m still a puppy, I’ve already started my training. Bill wants to teach me how to track, so he takes pieces of food (I love hot dogs!) and throws them in the grass and I sniff around for them. The only thing is, I’m a puppy, so I get distracted—SQUIRREL!—really easily.

I’m also doing rag work so I can learn how to bite down and hold on to something. I hope I never have to bite someone (no security dog at Beaumont ever has), but it’ll be good for me to know.

When I get big, I’m going to be really big. I’m supposed to be about 90 pounds all grown up. That’s when I’ll be able to hold my ears up all the time, too. Actually, I hope I can get both of my ears up at the same time pretty soon. I know Bill is pretty excited for me to do that.

I hope you’ll come back and read my blog. I’m very excited to let you know how I’m doing in my training. I’m going to be an explosive-sniffing dog! Boom dog!

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Meet Beaumont’s newest security dog – Nitro | June 3, 2013

Nitro, left, is learning the ropes at Beaumont, Royal Oak with handler Sgt. Bill Ferreras and Starr.

Nitro, left, is learning the ropes at Beaumont, Royal Oak with handler Sgt. Bill Ferreras and Starr.

One of Beaumont’s newest Security team members has just started his training. But he won’t be learning to watch monitors or go on bike patrol. He’s playing with a ball and a burlap bag as well as learning to go potty outside.

His name is Nitro.

“Nitro will be an explosives dog,” says his handler, Sgt. Bill Ferreras, K-9. “My current dog, Starr, is getting near retirement, so we started training a puppy to step in so she can take it easy late next year.”

Born in March, Nitro is a German shepherd from a long line do of security dogs. Bill will bring Nitro with him to the hospital to learn the different textures such as carpet, tile, dirt and cement. He will also be socialized and used to seeing large numbers of people in one area. Nitro also needs to learn the sounds in the hospital as well as wheelchairs, elevators and make visits to patients.

“As he gets older, he’ll train in patrol, tracking, building, area and article search as well as handler protection,” says Bill. “Down the road, once he gets his basic skills, we’ll work on explosive odors. I start with black powder and we work our way up.”

You can follow Nitro in his training on this blog, Boom Dog. Nitro will post regularly about what he’s learning (or not) and on life as a security dog. Be sure to watch this blog for more updates beginning June 10 . Do you have any questions for Nitro, Bill or Starr? Send an email to socialmedia@beaumont.edu.

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30 thoughts on “Boom Dog

  1. Linda Adams says:

    Hi Nitro. Congrats on your new position. I know you’ll do great.

  2. cindy hamilton says:

    Learning about the training process of a K-9 dog is very interesting! Welcome to Beaumont Nitro. Love your name 🙂

  3. Tina Robinson says:

    Awwwww don’t worry Nitro….We still love you even with your cone on! ~ stupid spider/bee

  4. Laura Durand says:

    Poor guy! You have nothing to be embarrassed about and that cone just helps protect you. Bill will take good care of you. Get better soon Nitro!

  5. Lynn Kain says:

    Aw! So sorry to hear you have to wear that contraption but I think you look like a super Nitro space dog.

  6. Liz O'Malley says:

    Oh, Nitro, I know how embarrassing that cone is! Hang in there, Baby!!!

  7. Dawn Clayton says:

    Nitro is sooooo cute!! Such a sweet puppy!

  8. Bonnie Kilberg says:

    Nitro….very handsome you have 3 girls in your fan club Shayda 12, Tulee Belle 5 (Chinooks) and little Presley 3 an Icelandic Sheepdog…last two are rescues. Their mom has trained a lot of dogs..listen to your dad….Thank you for your service!!!

  9. Bonnie Kilberg says:

    PS…tell Dad we LOVE Helicopter ears

  10. Karen LeDuc says:

    Hi Nitro! Did I miss something? What’s so important about both of your ears being up? I think having one up and one down is pretty cute!

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi, @Karen! Nitro’s dad says it’s a characteristic of German shepherds to have their ears up, so it’s a bit like a milestone for a puppy. Nitro is on his way! He can get both ears up sometimes. Plus, he can probably hear better!

  11. Leslie Gierke says:

    In the video I see you using the hot dog treat rather than a toy. When he is older and you are out on patrol will you have to carry hot dogs with you all the time?

  12. Net says:

    It was great to read about Nitro and his training. It is especially nice to see how he is growing and adapting to his environment. We are very lucky to have a K-9 unit here at William Beaumont, I think Nitro will be a great addition to the Security team. Can’t wait to read the next installment of his training exercise’s.

  13. Kathy says:

    That Nitro is not only growing fast, he gets cuter every time I see him! I’ve been lucky enough to see him a few times, here on campus, and can’t help but push my way over to give him a quick pet. I vote for a play with Nitro (and Xena) hour!! I love the updates, please keep them coming!

  14. Leslie Gierke says:

    Are Nitro’s ears standing up yet?

  15. Linda says:

    Hey Nitro, we miss you! We’re sure that you’re huge by now, and we’d love to see an update.
    See you soon!

  16. Dawn Clayton says:

    I can’t believe how big he has gotten! Great job Nitro on the sniffing!

  17. Charlene Tylen says:

    I’m in love. Nitro is so cool, and his training is awesome. I hope my granddaughters can see these videos. Thank you nitro and trainer for all your hard work protecting all of us. I look forward to meeting
    Boom Dog at Grosse Pointe one day.

  18. Doni says:

    Nitro, You are doing an amazing job in your training! You and Mr Bill appear to be the best work team around. Your first Thanksgiving is next week and I am thankful that you ‘re here to protect us from the “boom”. Maybe Mr Bill will let you have some turkey.

  19. Liz O'Malley says:

    Boom Dog – If you didn’t have such an important job to do here at Beaumont, I would just take you home and we’d play all day! But you are doing a great job here, and I really appreciate you!!!

  20. Linda Adams says:

    Hi Nitro,
    My dog loves the snow too. I hope Bill will post a picture of you when you are covered in snow. I bet you’ll be so cute.

  21. Bill Ferreras says:

    Thank You All !! For your wonderful comments!! I will have pictures of Nitro in the snow. He is really a smart dog!! Training these dogs is hard work, but he is making it a little easier for me. Nitro turned 8 months on the 19th of November and has already grown. I think I’m going to have to change his collar again! Next size is 22 inches!

  22. Mary Weinhold says:

    What a handsome boy you are Nitro!! I’ve been following your story and I just think your “the bomb!” Get it?? Bomb??? You sniff for them??? I know…..I know…..crazy human talk! Keep up the good work and tell your dad to keep the stories coming 🙂 PS. Hope to see you soon!!!!

  23. Maria R. says:

    Keep up the good work, Nitro!

    P.S. You look awfully handsome!

  24. Dawn C. says:

    Our office enjoys hearing updates on you Nitro! Such a handsome dog you have grown into, and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings for you!!

  25. Tina says:

    Good luck on your newest challenge Nitro. My “boy” figured out how to get out of his metal crate but I’ll let you figure it out yourself. Good Boy!

  26. Liz O'Malley says:

    Boom Dog – you are getting SO big!! I just know that you are going to be a great asset to Beaumont. I am sad that Starr is retiring, but I know how hard it is to get around when your hips go. My dog had trouble too. I would certainly go to a party for her retirement – she deserves honoring! Love you, Nitro! Keep up the good work!!

  27. Linda says:

    It’s soo great to hear from you, Nitro!! You look like such a big boy. I would love it if you had a retirement tea for Starr. Maybe I’ll finally get to meet you 🙂 Let me know what your favorite treat is beforehand.

  28. Dawn C. says:

    Love the idea of a retirement tea!! It would be great to see both of you. Starr has worked hard over the past years and I would love to give her a “pat” of gratitude!

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