She approaches with the exuberance of a puppy, wagging her tail so hard that her whole body shakes, wearing an ear-to-ear doggie grin. Dangling from her collar is what Deputy Police Chief Adam Cullen calls her “bling,” an oversized sheriff’s badge that drags on the floor as she heads out on missions.
Her name is Red, and she is the Stanford Police Department’s trusty eight-year-old Labrador, charged with sniffing out areas for explosives before big events and the arrival of high-profile campus visitors, from the Dalai Lama to the president of Mexico. As she trots by the desks of her co-workers in the Police Department, they call out, “Red!”
Red is an anomaly at Stanford: a school dropout. She was brought to the Farm in Feb. 2007 after failing out of a hunting dog class. The Department of Homeland Security had placed Stanford’s new football stadium on its list of likely Bay Area terrorist targets, and the Stanford Department of Public Safety became interested in purchasing a “bomb dog.” She now lives with Cullen and his family, including “her little sisters,” Cullen’s five and seven-year-old daughters.
Though the black Labrador’s name may seem arbitrary, she was dubbed “Red” after a dog collar she wore as a puppy. She trains once a week for four to six hours, sniffing out fake bombs, which she always finds with uncanny speed.
How many missions has she completed?
“There have been so many,” Cullen said, almost all of which involve her sniffing out the scene before a big event.
Luckily, she has never found a bomb on campus. Her pre-search begins with what Cullen calls the “most important thing”: getting her to relieve herself. Without this crucial step, embarrassments could potentially arise — for example, an accident at the feet of a foreign dignitary.
Though she needs to stay in shape — which she does through vigorous searching and a lean diet — one sergeant keeps a large jar of treats on his desk. Considering that she makes up the entire Stanford Police K-9 unit, it’s obvious the treats are just for Red — and she knows it. She jumps up as soon as she hears the lid twist open.
As the sole member of the Police Department’s K-9 unit, Red is charged with high responsibility, but she still manages to enjoy her Stanford life as a beloved, four-legged member of the team.
-Katie Leigh Kramon