Back the Blue K9 Force: Talking Canine Nonprofits, SRO Work, and more with John Gray!

Back the Blue K9 Force: Talking Canine Nonprofits, SRO Work, and more with John Gray!
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It’s been kind of cool because before, so when I, when I was working as a school resource officer and I would go into the schools, there’d be a lot of kids that would engage with you. Right. They were just excited to see it because they knew what your purpose was there. And they, a lot of kids, even if they didn’t really like it, they felt better knowing you were there, you know, but you walk in there with a dog and you get mobbed, right?

Like, you can’t go anywhere fast. And so. Even kids that may not normally talk to me are on the floor, petting the dog. And before you know it, now I’m building relationships with them. And the next time I walk in there and I don’t have the dog, they come up and talk to me. And so that’s created a whole new segue.

 And that’s a great perspective, because I think we get lost and we’re here to enforce the law. Yeah, Austin, the fact that we’re really should be here to build community relations and yeah, we got to take law enforcement action at times that community relations is going to go a lot [00:01:00] further than, you know, being one track minded all the time.

And there’s a time and place for that fully 100%, but, you know, at the same time, all work is being done in our communities that a lot of us live in. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. No, you’re right. I mean, I think when it comes to, like, especially organizations like back the blue K9 force, you normally might not see them doing something that would even be related to the school.

Right? But now it’s given us this opportunity, , you know, to engage kids. And, , events that are raising money for a nonprofit, right? So they’re excited about coming to we, we have, uh, what we call the Rex run and it’s a 5 K and it’s a family event and people come out and, um, if they don’t want to run, they participate in other activities, but we do dog demos there.

 And we talk about the program and auction stuff off, but there’s, there’s kids that are like, [00:02:00] you know, they’re coming from my school and I don’t even see them, I just hear them yelling the dog’s name because they’re so used to seeing, you know, and so I’m like, this is cool because now, , when they’re older, they may be more likely to be like, Hey, I want to be involved in, in an organization like this, that supports these dogs because I grew up around.

You know, when they see a dog that has a badge, cause believe it or not, there’s other therapy dogs in some of our schools. But if our dogs are there, they walk right past those dogs. Cause they’re like, I want to go pet the dog that has a badge on, you know, I want to be involved with that dog. And so it’s, it’s been really cool to see that, you know, bringing like a new generation of kids kind of into, into that world.

Yeah, that’s, that’s crazy, John, because really what I heard you say was those other dogs were like the fire department or the fire and everybody wanted to be with the cool kids, which had the bag on the logs, right? Yeah, I mean, our dogs are kind of like they’re dogs heroes, you know, [00:03:00] that is 100 percent correct.

Okay, I get it now. I’m falling in line with that. Okay. So, um, I like to introduce, john great buddy, and he’s part of a great organization called back the blue canine for we’re doing this week segment on just an. Canine non profit and I kind of want to expose our listeners to the non profit side of The reality of canine in today’s law enforcement, right?

Cause not everybody and not every agency can fund their program as well as some can. And, you know, some of that is budget cuts. Some of that is, , agencies or government agencies in general, uh, municipalities and or County commissioners not seeing the value of dogs and without community support, a lot of that can’t be done.

And there’s [00:04:00] organizations like back the blue canine force that for whatever reason, and we’re going to get the story tonight on why you guys decided to take on this task because it’s, it’s a daunting task to, to make all this work. And I think a lot of people see nonprofit and they hear horror stories or, you know, they hear the stories about much of the dollars not going to the actual causes.

So we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but there’s. There’s a reason behind every organization. I think that’s the uniqueness of nonprofits because there’s, there’s a real need there, but there’s also a heart behind the need to fill a gap to help all this come together. And so I want to get into that.

I want to let John introduce himself for a moment, tell us about the organization and just segue us into the rest of tonight, where maybe somebody that’s can also get inspired to. One, [00:05:00] donate and support the organization and or two, start or become involved in an organization like this.

So John, if you’ll take a little bit of time to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Back to Blue K 9 Force. Yeah, so like I said, my name is John Gray. I’m a deputy for Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado and I became affiliated with Back to Blue K 9 Force about three and a half years ago.

Um, and it is a, , nonprofit organization that was started by, Diane Lewis. Uh, she’s a lady that lived in our community and her and some of her friends saw a need and that need was originally, , to provide bulletproof vests for police dogs. That was their original mission. But in. I would say almost under 10 years, they went from that mission to purchasing over 15 police dogs for agencies.

I couldn’t even afford it. [00:06:00] They’ve provided money for emergency surgeries. , they have provided, . All of our all of our handlers with, um, emergency medical kits for their dogs. , and the, the response is just been unbelievable. So, the work that they do, and I, and I loved when you said, you know, , kind of explaining that, like, how nonprofits work in the sense that I think sometimes people think that when I donate.

  1. How much of this 5 goes to that exact cause? yeah, the thing that’s kind of cool now having kind of seen behind the scenes. The best thing is that 100 percent of the proceeds that come into back the blue go directly to the dogs directly to the handler needs. The only things that would come out of that would be, hey, we’re gonna buy Something like let’s say we, we buy stuffed animals that have our dogs names on them and then we sell the stuffed animals at events to help raise money for the [00:07:00] dogs.

Right? So again, even that money is just used to generate more money for the dogs and more money for the handler. So it’s incredible what they’ve done. Um, and you know, the 2nd that we, you. Really need something or have something I can get on the phone and within a matter of minutes. Diane is like, even if I don’t have the money, I’m going to find somebody who does or find somewhere that has the money.

And so, um, it’s been incredible. I mean, anybody who can, who has been around police dogs, it’s, it’s expensive, you know,. I would say it probably varies a little bit across the country. I know our agency and in Colorado, it seems like most time a police dog could go from eight to twelve thousand dollars without any training, you know, just to acquire the dog.

And so, it’s expensive and then you tack on equipment and, oh, the handler needs equipment now and we need training. We need to send people to different things. It’s, it can be taxing on a department and so,[00:08:00] , back the blue provides that support not only for the sheriff’s office but for other metropolitan agencies that otherwise they probably wouldn’t even have a canine program yeah that’s tremendous and i i just want to make sure i heard you right my hearing as i got older is a little bit dampened did you say a hundred percent of your guys’s proceeds go directly towards the mission that you guys support which is dogs dog handlers and equipment Yep.

Yeah, it’s been, it’s been unbelievable. That’s crazy, man. That’s crazy. None of them take, none of these, they’re all volunteers. Nobody is taking, nobody is paying themselves. I mean, I, I’ll guarantee you Diane works probably more hours than I do in a week and she doesn’t get paid. She does that out of just, just her own.

You know, kindness and generosity. And so, it’s just unbelievable. And so we’ve done, um, a multitude of [00:09:00] different events and we’re constantly trying to come up with new ways to, to not just say, hey, we need money, but to say, hey, how can we engage with the community? So that when they donate the money, they can either see directly where it goes.

I think for me, if I were to donate money and to be able to say, Hey, I purchased this for that dog. I think that’s cool. You know, I think that provides value to me as a donor rather than. Hey, I donate it even maybe if it was only, you know, 5 or I donated 50 and I never saw where it went, you know, they told me it went to a good cause.

Um, and so I think that that’s been kind of cool where people will, you know, we’ve done some events like canine. We did a canine Christmas event. So people could actually pick items off of a list for a dog and say, I want to buy specifically for that dog. And then we do the actual event, so they could show up and interact with the dog and.

You know, bring the gift with them if they’d like. And so it’s been kind of cool to see that creativity [00:10:00] come into play when it comes to engaging people to, to be a part of it, you know? Yeah. I don’t know too many people that work for free. Right. But when you have a passion and a heart for something, right, it brings on a totally different perspective.

And then you see the vision unfold in front of you. The other thing I thought about as you were. You know, talking about Diane and kind of what she does and how much she, gives to this organization, but think about the cool thing that she’s also done is she brought you in, which gives her a unique perspective from somebody that’s.

Not only a recipient probably of some of these proceeds, but also gets to relate to the people that it’s going to. Right. Because I know like for me, if I was involved in an organization, but I didn’t have the background in that organization, it would be kind of difficult to relate to some degree because some things I don’t understand.

About, you know, let’s say the medical [00:11:00] field or whatever. Right. But if I had a doctor on staff or a doctor that was helping us, then that brings in a whole different perspective. And I would believe that you lend a lot of that support to that perspective to help the organization fully understand how much support they’re really given.

to these dog handlers and the, and these dogs and how important it is. And I bet you play a vital role in that and really don’t even realize that. I, I think what’s kind of Cool is, you know, Diane’s brought in people that she has known for a long time. And when it, when it comes to like our, our dogs, we are, we are so blessed in that there’s been so many people who have even full time jobs that work with Diane, that work with all of us.

And, you know, let’s say we have an upcoming event, like our Rex run, and we can talk about the later, but we have, you know, that event and. We’ll have all sorts of people come together to plan that and they all have full time jobs, you know, and they’re there just to [00:12:00] help us. And it’s unbelievable how many people are willing to to give that time.

And I think we’re kind of lucky too. And that, um, you know, there’s a lot of agencies that may or may not have have or had an SRO program that had dogs. You know, and maybe they had a canine program already, but, um, you know, it’s kind of cool that our canine program and our, um, school related canine program kind of works so well together because.

If it didn’t, you know, I, I think we would just be, you know, we all work for the same place. We would be kind of battling against each other, but we can kind of all get ideas. And then we all kind of work with back the blue canine force to provide that knowledge. Cause sometimes they know a lot of stuff about patrol related response stuff that I might not have any idea in terms of how they deploy their dog, you know, other than my.

And just working with the dogs when I worked on patrol, you know, which is much more limited capacity. So, um, it’s been really neat to. [00:13:00] To see how many people it really takes to come together, like you said, to provide different perspectives on things and, you know, we do the events. Um, you know, sometimes it’s cool because you’ll see, okay, the therapy dogs are out walking and interacting with everybody.

But, hey, you know what the dogs are going to go to a bite demo over on the field. And it’s like, everybody’s like, right over there. Right? And it’s cool. No matter what the dogs are doing, people are just investing because they just want to want to be a part of it. And I think it’s really cool to see that.

Civilians have had enough passion, like you said, to put in their personal time to be involved to help us to make all this possible. Yeah, that’s it’s remarkable when you sit back and look, you know, 2016 was when this organization was formed and to see where it’s at. Now, you know, it’s probably beyond the vision that was ever imagined.

Right? [00:14:00] Yeah. I mean, when you go from. , purchasing a vest of buying a dog, you know, to, , in our, in our last Rex run, it’s a, that a 5k that we do. And when we started that, um, that was to help raise money to get more dogs, , onto the SRO unit. So we can get more dogs in schools. , and, and just with that event alone, the 1st year, we raised over 30, 000 in a day.

And that’s unbelievable. And so again, that money provided two dogs. We were able to put two more dogs in, um, in our schools. , we were able to provide equipment for all of our, you know, for all of our dogs. They were able to buy , vests for our dogs. It was just, it was unbelievable. And so we just had our second Rex run this past summer.

, and again, it was, , it was over a 30, 000 day and , it takes a lot of volunteers to make that event happen. I had no idea how much went into planning an event, but it’s way more than I ever expected. I can tell you that. [00:15:00] That’s right. Yes, it is. Maya does and coordinates our events and, uh, you know, even if it’s just something small, you know, like a lunch or a meeting dinner or something like that, it just there’s so much.

Little minute details that go into making it all smooth. She did the Christmas party this last year and yeah, she, uh, she saw the full wrath of how much goes into just coordinating people, you know, herding sheep, right. She like trying to make sure everybody’s there on time, making sure the vendors got their stuff together.

Yeah. You know, the pressure of making it a successful event and really honoring what you’re representing. Yeah, there’s a lot that goes into it. You’re absolutely right. Yeah, and, it’s been really cool because we’ve actually had kind of a shift in our agency in that our [00:16:00] canine program is actually all, I don’t want to say new, but, you know, we don’t have anybody on right now.

That’s been on for 25 years as a handler. Right? And so while there can be some negative things that the good thing is that. With that they’re sending us all over the country right now to get training right that we haven’t had at our agency in 25 years and there’s great training out there now.

And so we’re able to adopt so many new things that have come to light when it comes to you know How to deploy a dog or how to train a dog and different philosophies that we would have never considered in the past but now Now, our agency is like, hey, that’s a good time to get everybody to training. And it’s cool that that can be part of the mission through back.

The blue 2 is, hey, let’s get officers that are handlers better trained to better train these dogs. Right? And that ultimately could keep a dog safe, right? , I mean, and it’s, it’s been a really fun [00:17:00] process in seeing how, you know, how both the school team has formed.

We have 5 dogs now, and all of them have been. , you know, because of back the blue canine forces purchased all of our dogs, all of our equipment. Um, and so really, our program might not even exist if it wasn’t for some of that funding. Yeah, that’s awesome. You look at the operation, the formation of an organization, then you look at how the organization.

Operates, but the reality of it, what keeps it going is the donations, right? Yeah. So can you speak a little bit on what D what does back to blue canine force do to raise funds and how, how, what’s the process that they go through to do that? Yeah, that’s a great question. So I would say a majority of things that we actually work on to generate revenue, um, are, you know, like I said, we have all these custom made, um, [00:18:00] step dogs.

That’s probably a while. That seems like it’d be a small thing actually generates a lot of funds. Um, so we purchase all these dogs, we take them to events, whether it’s our county fair. Uh, sheriff’s office open house and we’ll have other agencies kind of come partner with us and we sell dogs. Um, obviously donations where people just donate just because.

Um, but then we also do different, like, kind of unique events in the sense of, um. We’ve done, you know, dog demos and stuff at the sheriff’s office open house, where we’re actually showing and kind of showcasing what the dogs do. And then maybe we’ll talk about, hey, these are the needs of the dogs. So then we’re getting, we’re, we’re targeting exactly what it is that the dogs may need so that we can get more specific donations there.

Um, our newest. I, I would say kind of our newest venture is that, , me and a another deputy that I work with, , in our, kind of in our [00:19:00] spare time, had illustrated and, , wrote a children’s book about our dogs. , okay. And so we, we self-published the book, um, and we are going to. Give all the proceeds from the book sales to back the blue so that that can support the dogs.

So Again, just another way to raise funds for the non profit So I think we’re trying to always think of stuff like I would say right now one of our biggest events is the rect run um, which you know, we’re going to do that every year and Hopefully, you know with there being a vendor fair there. We’ve had people from other states traveling which is really cool but i’d say a lot of people don’t realize but it’s just Even our holiday events, just events that we plan to where people can show up and interact with the dogs, see what those needs are.

Maybe they purchase, we have poker chips that have our dog’s faces on them. I know they do those all across the country, right? But those sometimes are a hot item to [00:20:00] where people are like, Oh, that’s really cool. You know, I want to, I want to buy a stuffed dog and a poker chip. And I know that that money goes directly towards supporting your dog, and it’s kind of cool working in schools because.

We had one of our elementary schools say, Hey, we want to sell the stuffed dogs for you. So they sold in just a few weeks, they sold 3, 000 worth of stuffed dogs. Just that one school. So our county services, um, almost 50 elementary schools. So we have, um, you know, I’d say probably almost, I should say almost 40 elementary schools.

So, um. And that’s across two districts. You know, it’s been, it’s been incredible to support from the schools. And then we also, um, 1 last kind of thing we do to generate money as we, we auction off, , experiences.

So in the schools, the PTOs will ask, Hey, will you donate? Well, what we’ll do is we’ll donate a, I call it like a Rex experience or our other dogs, you know, they’ll plug in [00:21:00] their name. And what we can do is, we have a basket with all the swag related to our dog. We bring them out to the Sheriff’s office.

We give them a full tour. We do dog demos. We show them talking about how we train the dogs. They have dinner with us. Um, they get to play with the dogs. And so that’s kind of an experience that we auction off. and, and I mean, honestly, that, that one experience alone in one of my elementary schools, which was advertised through the PTO raised 6, 000 in one night.

So, so some of these things. Wow. Are are cool, because in the grand scheme of things, right? That doesn’t cost us a lot, but we can bring people out and give them a really unique, really cool experience. And it raises a lot of money. So. It’s been kind of cool to see what different avenues we can utilize to really fund because medical bills and things like that for dogs get expensive fast.

Yeah, [00:22:00] you know, you have 1 slip up or. A, a torn, ACL and that’s thousands of dollars. You break the right teeth and that’s thousands of dollars worth of work, and that’s not even life saving. Right? Right. You get into something like BLO or other ailments that, you know, require surgery, recovery. All those things are, are highly regarded when it comes to funding in order to, you know, save a dog’s life or to help a dog through a difficult situation.

Yeah, no, you’re totally right. It’s. It’s crazy how fast it, it adds up and gets expensive. Um, but you know, I, I will say it’s, it’s better when you can have a large group of people trying to come up with new ways on how we can, how we can engage the community to raise money. Cause you know, not everybody wants to buy something, you know, sometimes people don’t want to blindly donate, [00:23:00] but you know, how can we.

Show them what our needs are and how can we do that creatively and, you know, whether it’s coming up with a new shirt that we want to sell or, uh, you know, different, I guess, just different ways to, you know, different ways to raise money. Yeah, absolutely. Now, I do have a question. The name. Of the organization back the blue canine force, where did that come from?

So, I think initially, um, you know, it started out just being an organization just for police dogs and Diane and her and her group of friends came up with that name. So I don’t, I don’t want to misspeak on how the name formed. Um, exactly. But, um, I think it’s just honestly, them bringing together their, their force people from the community to back the dogs and I, they always use the.

Yeah. The, the slogan, which [00:24:00] we all know, right? Let’s support the, the paws that enforce the laws. They, that’s what they’re here for. They just, you know, they want to, um, show that the, that our community supports its law enforcement and, you know, and they saw a need. And I thought it was really cool that, um, you know, they, they saw actually dogs working and saw that they didn’t have proper equipment.

And that’s what inspired this whole thing, you know, and it’s crazy to see that, you know, you went from that, uh, to now you’re making things happen for police agencies that, , you don’t even realize it, but some of these dogs, they’re saving officers lives, you know, you can send a dog to clear a house or to clear a building or to, you know, search for an explosive that otherwise you’d have an officer in there or, uh, you know, You know, somebody trying to manipulate a robot or do something like that.

Right? So it’s a huge deal that they’re able to provide a dog for an agency that can’t afford [00:25:00] it. So, John, I don’t know where you grew up. Right? Why grew up? I was never exposed to dogs. Right. And what I mean by that is, is because of the exposure of these dogs in an elementary school, , we talk about the program and other programs that have kind of shaped the vision of some young kids, especially from a law enforcement perspective and expose them to a law enforcement career that maybe otherwise was never exposed to that.

But think about that for dogs as well. Right? You’re helping kids. Right. You may bridge a gap between a kid and yourself or a kid and a dog that would have never opened up or never utilize that resource. Um, who Make big things happen. That dog bridges that gap, uh, on top of that.

 You’re exposing them to things that they may want to do as a career. Later on, I also want to be a canine handler police officer to [00:26:00] day become a canine handler. And I hope that I can influence somebody in, in another school with my dog one day. And so we’re giving these kids opportunities to be exposed to an industry that they may have only seen the negative on the news.

Now they really see the real side of law enforcement that we all see. That oftentimes is never reported on. Yeah, and I don’t, I mean, I’ll be honest. I don’t know that I was very knowledgeable on. Or ever really interacted or knew much about police dogs until I worked at the sheriff’s office, you know, other than maybe seeing them on TV, you know, and so this is you’re right.

It’s opened up a lot of doors and started a lot a lot of conversations for kids because they genuinely don’t know. They don’t know what some of the dogs do. They don’t they even ask questions about what our dogs do and. You know, so I have that chance to explain, you know, Hey, this is how they keep us [00:27:00] safe.

This is how the dog works. Right. And, and I think we get a lot of questions too. I’m like, well, you know, I think with how the, how therapy dogs started and everybody wanted to put an emotional support dog patch on their dog, you know, on their Chihuahua and bring it on a plane. There was a lot of mud there.

And so now that we’re trying to clear up those waters, I try to explain to people to like, hey, there’s a whole side of this training and patterning this dog into understanding how to detect. the hormonal change in somebody, right? I want to, I want an actual trained scientific response from my dog, just as if he was searching for an explosive.

I want him to use his nose to to find somebody who is hormonally impacted. In a room where nobody’s crying, and then I know I’ve succeeded. Right? So I’m like, well, what does the therapy dog do? I’m like, that’s what we’re doing. And it [00:28:00] has been awesome to see him engage with somebody. We’ll go into a classroom, he’ll pick one student out and just sit by them.

And they’re like, you go up and start talking to them. Like, that’s weird. I had a really hard morning, you know, sometimes they’re tearing up and they’re like, I don’t know why he came and sat with me. And I’m like, why? But, but, you know, we’re at. Um, you know, and then and then next thing you know, it’s like you said, we’re we’re building connections that otherwise might not be there because even our handlers that have patrol dogs will tell you it’s nerve wracking for them taking their dogs, even though they’re well behaved, even though they’re trained around kids, right?

Because they don’t want anything to happen, right? Kids are brutal. I work around kids every day. I know they’re brutal, right? They pull the dogs here, even if they’re trying to be friendly because they get it. They’re gaining that understanding. It’s like you said, you know, they may have had limited exposure.

You know, I had a girl walk my dog to class. She had never seen a dog before. She’s from another country and never seen a dog [00:29:00] before, and she was scared to death. And after, I would say, 5 minutes of hanging out with us, she actually took the leash and walk the dog to class. And so. I think those experiences are, have been kind of really impactful, , you know, not only on me, but I think on even the staff in the school, right, to being like, wow, I really see a huge need for, for this program.

 And, you know, again, with a program like this, now a lot of other agencies are trying to do it. And so we’re getting a lot of questions on how do we raise funds, you know, which is why I think this is, this is an awesome podcast because I get this question a lot. How do you guys fund your dogs? You know, and I’ll be honest, there’s a, there’s a lot of stuff that the sheriff’s office purchases.

We are very, very fortunate in that. Our sheriff, I don’t even know that it took him 10 minutes to make the decision to approve this program. He has been, I have never heard the guy say that to me. You know, [00:30:00] our sheriff Tyler Brown has been supportive from day 1 and that has not been the case for some people who are trying to, you know, start up a program.

And so if you don’t have that backing, right? If you don’t have support, and maybe there’s a little question there of, well, this seems expensive, you know, without a nonprofit, where do you go right? If you don’t have your agent nonprofit, where do you go? Right? And so having that collaboration together and so that’s brought up, you know, just now.

Agencies out here, I think, even though maybe it’s been this way for a little bit are starting to. Kind of adopt that. Hey, let’s start our own nonprofit, right? We can start our own nonprofit , to fund our canine or to help. Maybe it’s to, you know, uh, provide better SWAT gear for when they have a critical incident or whatever it is, but there’s people out there that want to donate.

You know, we’re that say, Hey, we’ll host an event, right? We’ve had people reach out and say, Hey, we would love to host an event at our restaurant for you guys. Or, Hey, we would love to [00:31:00] host an event here. And so I think, you know, it’s really neat to see, like I said, you know, back the Blue Canine Force and, and all these volunteers just.

Jump right in and say, hey, you know, we’re going to help you set this event up and and we’re going to help raise money for dogs and that’s crazy because you bring up an interesting point because without the sheriff’s support without your school system support. Yeah, yeah, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or, you know, what the cost is, it could have got shot down before it ever got started.

Yeah. And so that puts and moves. To the forefront, the ability to have leadership that recognizes that this is non traditional, but I’m interested and let’s see what we need to do to make it work. And, and most times from my admin perspective, it’s just the support. You let these go getters go [00:32:00] and they’re going to make you look good.

And so have a little bit less control and a little bit more freedom and allow these people to excel in the things that they really want to do in their career. And you’ll be surprised on the, on the leaps and bounds that they make. Because you’ve allowed them to do that, you know, so that leadership is important as well.

Absolutely. And I think, I mean, taking a chance for, for a, you know, a government organization is scary, right? Like, they’re always like, what’s the liability? What is the potential? What could go wrong with this? And there’s that risk, right? But again, it’s like you said, when you have that support, and like I said, we were fortunate that our sheriff’s like, I like the concept.

I like where your guys mind are. This is something that we can see our agency putting a huge emphasis on community policing, which for a long time, right? It’s not that we haven’t done community [00:33:00] policing, but as long as I’ve been in law enforcement now, I haven’t seen revolutionary ways of. Of bringing forth problems to the people that we’re, we’re serving.

Right. And so, you know, it goes back to when we looked back at, like, the broken windows theory and things like that. They stayed around for a while, but every once in a while, we have to come up with new ways, you know, to take community police or new ways to engage the people that we’re trying to serve and protect.

Right. And so. It’s kind of neat to have, you know, to work with an organization. It’s like, yep, we’re going to take a chance. We’re going to take a chance and not only that, something else that you said, too, is not only do they have to be willing to take the chance, but they have to be willing to invest that money to take a chance.

Right? And for a sheriff’s office that has board of county commissioners, we have other, there’s a lot of things that go. You know, [00:34:00] in a play there when it comes to funding where that’s the fortunate thing about a nonprofit, right? If if you can get support from your agency and you can get funding elsewhere, it will make it so much easier for you to start a program or to operate a program without it being a burden on.

administration. Yeah, that’s that’s exactly right. And, you know, you’re also finding a lot of naysayers that are in the backgrounds and, oh, you know, I don’t see the reward for this or wasting a bunch of time and training or training. These officers are going to leave next year. Or we’re investing all this money.

What’s the return on it? Right? Then when you get rolling and it starts snowballing and the community starts jumping on board, then you really see the for the multipliers of investing those 1 percent that 1 percent equity into this. [00:35:00] You know, for a period of time until it really makes something big, it took a little while, but now looking back and you’re going, wow, in essence, it could have been stopped before it ever got started because leadership could have cut it out.

But instead they supported it. And, and now you guys are, are able to grow it to what it is today. And that’s, that’s just awesome to see, but I think it’s. Testament on what you need to be forward thinking and community policing and the ways that we approach things nowadays. Well, it’s kind of like, you know, I think a lot of times we look for proof of concept, right?

I need to know that. I need to know that this is actually working. Right? And so we want in law enforcement, we always want data. How can I get data? I want qualitative data, right? It’s hard to always quality to get actual. You know, and I put a number on it, right? Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative data, whatever, whatever it is you’re looking for.

Sometimes it’s hard to [00:36:00] get that data. But the cool thing is, is that when the community started, when we started with my dog Rex, who was an 8 week old puppy, we bring him in. Swear a man start training him and within 3 years, right? And it hasn’t even been 3 years yet. We have expanded to 5 dogs. There’s your proof, right?

That we’re all purchased by our community, right? That we’re all requested by the school districts that they service, right? And so I think it’s really cool to see not only the need of the community present itself, but the solution for some of the problems. Show it’s, you know, show its benefit and show that it’s actually a necessary tool.

And I think that’s the thing that’s really cool too, is when I just went to a training recently in California and, um, we went with some of our other canine handlers and, and it was really cool to see the perspective of like, Hey, [00:37:00] just, just because a dog is in police work, doesn’t mean it can only do X, Y, Z, right?

Dogs are incredible. Right. I mean, they can be trained for a multitude of things that I mean, that you say something like, oh, well, there’s bedbugs, you know, in this place, there’s a bedbug dog that can detect that and people are like, what, you know, so you get a lot of shock from people. Right. That’s just because dogs are incredible.

So now. You know, when we were at this training, it was cool to see people like, wow, you know, like I wouldn’t have thought of using a dog that way. Right. We’ve always had drugs and bite dogs or tracking dogs or, you know, and they’re like, we’ve never thought of using a dog. And, and I’ll be honest, right, even some of our canine dealers, I’m sure we’re scratching their heads at first.

Like, wait, what do you guys want to do? Really? But I think now that it’s played out and we’ve seen, we’ve seen where we wanted it to go and we’ve seen it get there. Now we have a good understanding [00:38:00] and it’s cool to see other people like, hey, I’ve been around working on law enforcement for a long time.

And it’s cool to see them taking that chance, or it’s cool to see them give you guys that opportunity. Right? And it’s, it’s really neat to see people that maybe would have never thrown a dollar bill. In support to the sheriff’s office are like, here’s 100, you know, we appreciate your dog working in our kids school, you know, yeah, dogs have always been there to bridge the gap, you know, but it’s not for everybody, you know, it’s not for every handler to work up.

therapy dog and to be around kids, right? Because let’s be quite honest, you know, most canine hunters get into it for the excitement of, you know, the chase and all those other things. But there’s a definite need for those, you know, resource officers that are there every day meeting our kids and taking care of them.

I wouldn’t send my kid to a school that didn’t have a great [00:39:00] SRO program because I know there’s an absolute need for that. With that being said. Now we incorporate dogs and build gaps and bridge those, those maybe, uh, disgruntled kids that really don’t understand and only getting fed from one side of the house, if you will.

And now they get to see a whole different perspective. You know what? That police officer is not a bad guy. He’s actually pretty cool. Right. And he has a dog. And, you know, so you just continue to multiply that tenfold. And the real proof in the pudding is, and I would venture to say this, wait, wait about another five years, because the program has been running about three.

So let these kids grow up. Yeah, right. And I would almost assure you, you’re going to start seeing them come back and start seeing them and giving you feedback. Man, I can remember the first day I met you guys. I can remember the first day I met this dog or this, and I’m doing this [00:40:00] now because of this. And, you know, I was really heading down a bad road and this really helped me.

Uh, I can almost guarantee that we’re going to struggle. You guys are going to start seeing this. Come to fruition and really seeing the fruits of your guys’s labor. Yeah, and I’m excited for that day. I mean, we’ve, we’ve done like, you know, I know I kind of talked about some of the things we’ve done, you know, raising money wise, but, you know, the things that we do in the schools, whether it’s, you know, I do a reading program in my school where we do reading with Rex and I bring the dog in and kids can practice reading to them and it’s not reading to their whole class of kids that are afraid to public speak.

It’s a great way. Right? Or there you go. You know, the dog’s not going to judge them, right? And so, um, or I’ll read a book with Rex to the students, right? And so they’re like, oh, a police officer came to my school and read us a book today, right? And either that, or we incentivize kids to have good leadership and good [00:41:00] behavior by I’ll have lunch with the kids.

So we’ll take a table full of winners that, like, hey, these are students that were nominated this month for leadership. And I’ll have lunch with them and I bring the dog in and they get to have lunch with the dog. And so it’s, there’s so many like levels to this program that I tell people all the time that are SROs that are looking at developing a program like this.

I’m like, Hey, you’re going to be only limited. By your own creativity, I mean, the sky’s the limit, right? Whatever program you can come up with. And you’re right. The more we come up with things like this. Now, you know, the more we get those responses, which is cool. Because even though just an SRO before I had a dog.

You know, some of the people that went to my school that were middle schoolers when I used to work in the middle school were now explorers for us, or some of them were at the high school. And now they’re police officers that weren’t the other sheriffs that work with us, you know, and I’m like, when you were in high school, and now you’re a deputy, [00:42:00] this is crazy, right?

But, but I know what you’re saying, though, you know, those, those connections, I think, could be even strengthened. With the dog program. So I’m really excited to see and I encourage people truthfully. I really do. I encourage people if they have any support, if they can find ways to fundraise, if they can find a nonprofit to work with to make something possible to get, you know, whether it’s an SRO canine program gone or a dog canine program going on, it’s amazing.

What these dogs can do to save officers and to interact with the community. It’s amazing. Yeah. I mean, you know, going back to our earlier conversation, I’ve already heard three ways that another program can use to do to raise funding, right? One of which is your poker chips, right? So let’s souvenir that’s related to your unit.

 come [00:43:00] up with some other stuffed animal or something that’s recognizable to your union a little bit unique and then also to have Specific fundraising events, such as the Rex run where they’re doing a five K or some other type of race. Right. But the underlying factor here is to build those community relations and to really bridge the, uh, forge that, that relationship.

Yeah, because that’s where you’re really going to get your support and your traction is from having that community relations. Right? Yeah. Yeah. And there’s, I mean, you can see the, like, I’ve seen the benefit recently with community relations when it when it comes to the book. Right? So, when we started looking at how do we make this book happen?

We need a lot of sponsors. So, reaching out to the school districts. Um, there’s a lot of businesses that support Back to Blue Canine Forest that will often donate lots of money to say, Hey, you know what? We saw [00:44:00] this dog had a surgery. Our business wants to donate 20, 000 towards that surgery. you know, it’s, it’s crazy because you can see all these places within your community step up.

You know, rise to the challenge and say, Hey, we’re going to, we’re going to donate. Right. And so that’s been really powerful. I know that there’s even like the grocery stores by us or Amazon. There’s different ways that you can tap into your account so that when you’re making purchases, a small amount of that purchase goes towards back to blue canine course, which is cool, right?

That’s things that you don’t even realize, right? Every time we go to the grocery store. Yeah. Yeah. And then the grocery store donates 1 percent of my grocery. Well, that’s awesome, right? So there’s other ways that of engaging that. But so much of it comes from those community partnerships that you develop along the way.

And so, yeah. I mean, that’s powerful, especially when you’re going to run events, right? If you’re going to run an event, um, you know, and I’m [00:45:00] sure that you guys both know this, when you start looking at, hey, what all do we need? Let’s say we’re going to do an auction. Well, now we need auction items. If you have good community relations and good community partnerships, and you have people that are like, hey, I want to donate this item.

To your auction so that you can raise money for your nonprofit. It’s unbelievable, you know, and so for the rector last year, we had so many items that I’m like, I’m going to be broke because I’m going to have to try to win all these items. And so, but it’s cool because. we were able to get so many unique things that were because we had volunteers that had good partnerships with people.

And so I encourage, like, I see there’s a lot of really awesome agencies in Georgia that are killing it. On social media and that are doing a great job when it comes to events, right? So much so that here we can be in Colorado and know exactly what’s going on in Alpharetta, right? Or we can go know exactly what’s [00:46:00] going on with, , other dogs out there.

And it’s because again, you have good partnerships, you have good social media, and you have all these things that culminate and you can get support from people that may not even know you exist. You know, and it’s just, yeah, and that was the other thing I was going to bring up, John, you know, besides the money, right?

There’s other resources that people donate, you already named items for auctions and things like that, but I’m sure there’s also people that donate the resources they have. So I want to make sure that people understand that, especially those that may be listening that want to support you, but maybe they don’t have the money to do that, but they have other things.

Yeah, you know, I can give you money or maybe I have this gold nugget that I have that I could give you to that could be worth the weight of money for the organization, right? Off the top of your head, and I know I’m putting you on the spot with this, but are [00:47:00] there some that maybe somebody or resources that somebody could lend to you that would help the organization?

Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think of, I think of like, okay, when we need to run events, Oh, it’s endless, right? Like we could, we could use a golf course. That’s like, Hey, , maybe we don’t have any money, but you can, you can borrow three of our golf carts that day, that’s a huge savings for us, right, or Uh, it’s even as simple as a, a company that can, you know, Hey, we’re gonna, we’re gonna donate our bouncy castle to you for a day for your kids event.

Right? Things like that. Right? So, you like, you’re saying sometimes. It’s not always even just the financial, but sometimes it’s the time. We’ve even had people that are news anchors or that are radio show hosts who are saying, I will donate my time to you and I will come MC your event. So I think there are so many things that go into this, that we just.

Literally don’t [00:48:00] even think about that are like, Hey, we don’t always just need a financial support. We need community support. So if you have something, if you own a business and you have something that you can bring to the table, I encourage people to reach out and ask because, you know, that that’s a huge benefit, right?

If when we’re playing an event, somebody’s like, Hey, I got, like I said, I got a golf cart. You can use, Hey, we make signs. Would you guys like to use the frames for our signs for your event? Yes, please. Would you guys like to use this? Yeah, you know, or or even we’ve had, food trucks say, hey, we’ll just come out to your event.

Right? We won’t we won’t charge you to come out. We’ll just come out to your event or different things like that. It’s just unbelievable. You know, so. I think so. So often we get zoned in on 1 thing, right? Or we get hyper focused on 1 thing. Like, okay, well, we need funding for this, but you’re right. There’s a lot of resources that, you know, maybe it’s even a discount on something.

 We [00:49:00] have some really good. I mean, here in Colorado, we have Ray Allen who’s probably 1 of the biggest. Canine equipment manufacturers that I’m aware of, um, and they honestly, they do, they work with us a lot. You know, they work with us a lot on different things, whether it’s pricing on things and, and there’s a lot of even smaller, , you know, I can’t even think of like some boutique style, , dog places that work with us, you know, that are like, Hey, we just made these dog toys.

And they just brought him to our agency. And you know what? That’s huge, right? So I’m glad you said that because There are so many things that you’re like, I wouldn’t even thought that you guys needed this, but, you know, now, you know, now, maybe we can, we can partner on something that I never knew I could have provided, you know, yeah, I even think about skill sets.

Right? People can donate their skill sets. Hey, I can create the flyers for you guys, or I can post this or repost this on my [00:50:00] social media to help you guys promote this event or. Yeah. You know, you mentioned the DJ, so it’s not just money. It’s just not items also. And you talk about community. I want people to understand that it’s just not the community where you’re at John, but yeah, you say it’s our community because it can be anywhere in the country.

You’re still part of our community, you know, because we’re all here to help each other out. And I’m sure if somebody needed your help. Yeah, they could call on you, right? Because that’s what you guys are there for. So it all comes full circle. If you think about it, it’s not just a one way track. Oh, we just need your money so that we can support this and this and this.

No, if you need us as well, there may be a need that you have, or maybe it’s a need for a dog in your community. Um, and we’ll get to that portion here in a minute, but people can then reach out and go, Hey, I just know there’s a canine handler in my area that really could [00:51:00] use this. Is there a way that we can help them?

And I’m sure you guys would consider that. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think to the, like the cool thing, working with dogs, like I said before, it’s like the connections you make are unbelievable. And so when it comes to . You know, even, even resources for, um, you know, , Hey, we’re, we’re hosting an event.

Like you said, sometimes I don’t, I might not even need somebody to emcee something. I might just need them to share something on social media because they have a million followers, right? A shout out like that is huge, and that took them nothing other than a click, so there are so many different ways.

I kind of go back to, and I, I always like overuse this saying, but again, you’re, you’re limited by your creativity, right? So whatever you can come up with, we have people donate paintings. Unbelievable. She was an unbelievable artist donated paintings that she did of the dogs. Um, you know, so it’s [00:52:00] like, hey, whatever skills you have that you think might have nothing to do with dogs, but totally be related to helping us, you know, you could totally.

And, and I think too, like, recently we’ve had to, there’s a lot of agencies that are like, Hey, we don’t have training resources. If I’m going to get a dog, I don’t have any ability to train it. So I’m going to have, I have to then rely on somebody else. Right? So it’s just like you’re saying there’s people that are driving.

We, we have people that are soon going to be driving from both Utah and Wyoming. To come shadow us and to kind of see what our program is all about and that may ultimately come train with us, you know, and so you never know what that resource is that you may need or that you may have available. And I think just keeping an open mind in what you can bring to the table is huge when it comes to.

You know, all [00:53:00] things law enforcement, even though I don’t I know we don’t typically think like that. Right? No. Yeah, but there’s a true need, right? And it’s evident in the growth, right? Because if there wasn’t a need, you wouldn’t grow. It would have already been dissolved and it would have never gained traction, but there’s a definite need and you’re filling that void, , based on an idea that it has evolved and.

You know, the imagination has taken you guys in ways and in directions that you would have never imagined now possibly, uh, influence on the agencies and other programs. And, you know, by all means, I know it’s, it’s never perfect, but it’s a work in progress all the time. And the recognition of that is, is so important as well.

Yeah. And I think the more we can, I always, you know, especially now, now I’ve learned like. It’s better to have the thought process that I know absolutely [00:54:00] nothing, right? If I, if I think I know nothing, then I’m going to soak up as much knowledge as I can from everybody I’m around. Right? So when I’m in, when I’m training around other people, and I might not, you know, maybe I’m not saying a lot or.

Doing a lot, but I’m watching and I’m observing and I’m soaking up stuff. Right. I’d rather learn as much as I can from other people. And, you know, you bring up a good point in that, like, Hey, you know, there are so many agencies out here, right? There’s so many dogs and there’s, there’s a need. There’s a need for a lot of these dogs to be working right, but there’s also a huge need for training and for a lot of these other things.

And so, you know, I feel pretty fortunate that, , we are able to get training, but I also feel for those that may not. Right? And so I’m excited moving forward. You know, to hopefully, I’m sure we’re going to go all over the place and train with all, all sorts of different people and, [00:55:00] you know, hopefully soak up as much as we can.

So, yeah, if you can, uh, just think back for just a moment, John, like dogs have influenced a lot of people in your schools, right? Obviously now you’re reaching out to other agencies in your area, but if you think about it, we would have never came together. If it wasn’t for dogs, that’s true. Yeah. Right. So dogs bridge the gap around the world.

I come from a law enforcement background. That’s where I got my start and I can Literally imagine myself in the desert of Dubai training dogs, on a boat in the Caribbean, sitting next to a Dutch shepherd. But I say all that to say that dogs bring us together.

It’s the catalyst that we can have influence on others. It’s not about the training. It’s not about who has the best dog or who’s the best. Trainer or whatever we want to say, right? It’s really about how [00:56:00] we can impact others. Exactly. And we have opportunities to do that through dogs and people oftentimes don’t seize those opportunities.

They, you know, spend more time trying to prove themselves being the best than it is to say, Hey, listen, we’re all in this together, no matter what the Avenue is. Right. I’m sure there’s a lot of naysayers that were against the program. Oh, this is stupid. We don’t have dogs from this. Let’s put dogs on the road.

Let’s kick in doors. Let’s stop everybody and lock everybody up. You know what I mean? And so having that vision and having a fight through some of that stuff, I’m sure was difficult too. And that’s just the reality of law enforcement, man. I, you know, it doesn’t matter where you’re at in the world. It’s all the same.

Well, there’s people you can work for the same agency, right? You can work for the same agency and have a different perspective. Absolutely. So it, it is just great and refreshing to see that. Right. But for those that are not in the [00:57:00] canine community, they don’t understand any of this. Right? Because they don’t see, when we talk about community, we talk about the other canine hang and hey, we’re willing to help you.

We’re willing to, you know, Hey, I know about, lemme tell you about him. Yeah. You know, or I know this, or I know this person that can help you. Go see them, give ’em a call. Yeah. You’re in your area, whatever. And we need more of that. We need, uh, that builds around that in order to get to the levels that you guys are at right now.

And I’m, and I’m proud to say that’s our industry. If we’re allowed to be our industry, that’s our industry. And oftentimes we don’t, and we just got to be mindful of that as we move forward. And I hope this inspires someone else that may be listening to this. That’s, you know, maybe doesn’t have that openness, that open minded.

And maybe, you know, well, that’s stupid. You know, I don’t know why we’re wasting this or I don’t know why, but look at it from a different perspective because we’re not in [00:58:00] law enforcement to, to, to really, um, lock people up every day or to shatter lives. We, we got into it for the best intentions and we really need to look at it from that perspective, that whatever that intention is and whatever the best way to approach it, if it’s.

Meeting kids at a younger age and really helping them to be better leaders as this program does to give them a reward system and teach them that through hard work and dedication and maybe even communication when you’re not feeling the best, that there’s always someone there around you that can help you.

Yeah, no, you’re right. And I think, I think it’s cool to see, you know, even just for our own organization, right? You’re right. There’s a lots of, lots of noise. Right. Lots of naysayers, I’m sure. But, you know, now to see how, how the program’s developed kind of, kind of reiterates the fact that, [00:59:00] hey, you know what, you may not be totally on on board with this idea, but we’ve got to in law enforcement, we’ve got to be a little bit more open minded.

Right. It was just like. Before, you know, before our canine kind of had a shift, right, there’s only 1 way of doing things. Well, there’s not, there’s lots of different ways of doing things. As soon as we can break away from this, there’s, this is the best way and our agency does it the best way. And it’s better than your agency because of this.

As soon as we can get away from that, we are so much. We are so much better off because we’re going to be able to learn and we’re going to be able to get ourselves so much further advanced in our own abilities, I think, to, you know, and so I think, yeah, we’ve had a, we’ve had kind of a shift in that now, you know, you get a lot of support and I think especially to, like.

There’s a lot of people like, Oh my gosh, we’re spending a lot of money on all these therapy dogs. Where are we getting all this money from? And I’m like, really, we’re not having to spend a lot of money on the therapy [01:00:00] dogs, right? The community is helping to fund this program. And so for even our own, our own deputies to know that, you know, like, Hey, a program like this, you don’t have to think of it as a huge burden on your, on your sheriff’s office.

Or on your municipality, it doesn’t have to be that way, even for a patrol canine program. It doesn’t have to be that way. Right? So sometimes you’re like, well, why are we getting, you know, why are we getting a bite dog? We’re not allowed to bite anybody anyways. Well, that may not be true. Right? So we, we have to still, we have to still think of how do we do police work?

Whether or not times have changed, we may have to change a little bit. Right? But we still have to have a lot of similar goals in mind. You know, and so we still have to protect the community. We still have to find ways to keep the community safe. And even if we have to tweak little things here and there, you know, it’s cool to see that, you know, I know there’s a [01:01:00] huge thing in California, right?

Recently about police dogs. You know, that was a huge thing out there, right? But it was kind of neat going to California to train, to see how passionate people are about dogs. Out there and how many people are excited to train dogs and excited to make. You know, good working dogs, and I think if we can only bring a lot of what these dogs do to light, we can squash a lot of, I think, things that are not necessarily true.

Right? You know, I think I think when people think of police dogs, they’re just like, oh, my, they’re just out there terrorizing the city and just biting everybody. It’s like, well, yeah, you know, and I think that’s what’s cool with some of the things that back the blues come up with to like, Hey, something as simple as a newsletter.

You know, if your organization doesn’t even have something like that, it’s just such a simple thing to we’ll just tell you a story about one of our police dogs, right? [01:02:00] Something that they didn’t know. We share share some of those stories. People want to know. I mean, anytime you remember being a canine handler, what do they always ask you?

They were like, Oh, what’s your dog done? Have you done anything? Cool. They want to hear the stories. Right? And so I think the more transparent we are on what the dogs are doing and how they’re working, I think you just get more support. Yeah, well, you can either tell the truth and what I mean by that is you can lead the stories or you can allow the devices of other people’s minds to lead the story, which is oftentimes never the truth and so far removed from it that now we get this image of something that’s so blown out of proportion that you’re like, where did that even come from?

We can lead the narrative and say, Hey, this is what it is. Yeah. Everything’s not pretty, but at the end of the day, there’s the reason for that. Um, but there’s also [01:03:00] this other facet to what we do that really. Also impacts lives in a positive way and impacts our communities. Yeah. And I think, I think really that’s a nice, like a tie into where, where our program we’ve seen probably the biggest benefit, right.

Is that, I mean, a lot, there’s been a lot of, you know, different like political talk about SROs over the last couple of years, few years. And so this has really been a cool program in the sense that I think it clarifies our role. As a school resource officer, and what we’re really doing is not so much reactive, right?

But it’s not so much reactive proactive. So, taking that stance on, hey, I’m not here to write. You a ticket. I’m not here to arrest a student, right? I’m here to go sit in the classroom and talk to that kid who maybe just got in a fight and explain. Hey, here’s a different way. We could have worked on this, right?[01:04:00]

You know, just having control of your emotions, right? We talk about things like emotional intelligence with kids and I utilize the dog. A lot to explain things to kids and to teach kids empathy, right? There’s so many screens everywhere. And so much, so much technology. So the dog is actually a great device.

And so I think seeing all this come together and really make a beneficial change to how an SRO can do their job, the dog really pairs nicely with the role of the SRO, that proactive, Um, teaching role, right? And it gives us, like you said, it opens a lot of doors. And so, um, for us, I know it’s really, it’s really helped, um, us to gain a lot more support, I would say, in our schools to where sometimes people be like, you know, this, this is ridiculous.

Why are you guys here? And sometimes what I will see is people like, [01:05:00] there’s a police dog at my kid’s school. I’m Yeah, you know, he’s the one that was on the news and he’s the one that was doing this and that and right and and the point of saying that is like, yeah, but he’s here not to, , not to go find drugs on a kid all the time, but.

Maybe he’s here just to sit in your kid’s classroom and we could talk about the dangers of drugs or we can talk about these things, right? And so it’s powerful. It’s powerful. And dogs are, dogs are a very powerful tool. They’re a good partner for a, uh, for not only a police officer, but a natural, I will say.

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s, you know, so true in so many ways. And oftentimes if you’re not in this industry, you don’t really realize that, you know, unfortunately, wartime has brought us a lot of PTSD dogs and other service type of dogs, but you don’t often understand the power of that dog until you see it firsthand in someone, you know, or in your [01:06:00] case around all these kids and the changes that you’ve seen in the evolution you’ve seen take place and right here in front of your eyes.


and I kind of think we’re, we’re scratching the surface there and it’s getting better, but I think it’s going to be really cool going forward. Like you said, I want to see it. five years. Where’s the program at? You know, absolutely man. It’s it’s tremendous to see it, you know, even to just hear the stories and see it play out firsthand and see the power of these dogs impacting these kids lives.

And, you know, you can bring it down to the most simplest forms. What is one life saved with a kid? Yeah. Yeah. I totally, you know, so can on it, so Yeah. Yeah. You can’t, you, you just can’t put money to that, you know? And again, five or 10 years down the road, I’m sure you’re gonna have many people come back to you and go, yeah, I remember I was in that school.

And it, it is, I think it’s gonna have a profound effect on those students. [01:07:00] I really do. Yeah. And I think, I think it’s just, it’s cool right now. Now is kind of a cool time, you know? In law enforcement to see some of the some of these cool ideas coming to light, right? And it’s different people implementing them.

And I mean, I’ve seen some some really cool ideas. I mean, and honestly, people use social media a lot, right? And that’s a really cool way to interact with people too. And I mean, even doing podcasts like this, right? We need to have the ability to have a conversation that other people can can listen to and can.

Learn something from right and same thing goes for me, right? I may listen to podcasts all the time about maybe it’s dog training or maybe it’s how somebody else Got their program started right all this how we start our internet program. There’s so much to be learned Just by listening, you know, and so, um, yeah, we’re, we’re looking forward to it.

And I think this is going [01:08:00] to be a big year for for back the blue. It’s going to be a busy 1. , like I said, we were getting ready to order 3000 books um, and so. That’s going to keep us busy for a while. , I know. So 1 of the ways that we plan on kind of using those to raise money is we’re going to do book signings with the dogs.

So we’re going to go read the read the book to kids after school and even at events on the weekends and take the dogs there and the kids can listen to book and then they can get a. A signed copy of the book with all the dog’s paw prints in it. And so I think it’ll be, it’ll be fun. And so I encourage people, I guess, just to, you know, maybe you already have an established canine program, but don’t limit yourself on how creative you can be to come up with.

Different ways to support your own program, you know, that’s great source podcast, all things working dogs. We’re talking about nonprofits, canine …nonprofits, and there’s a [01:09:00] handful of them around the country that I know of personally,

 there’s probably many more than that as we’re in a sea of. Over 2 million nonprofits in the country.

Right? And you try to stand out among all these nonprofits, right? Because you really want people to be donating their hard earned money towards you guys or their resources or their talents to your organization. We want to do just a little bit to help you stand out, you know, by bringing recognition and education.

To what back to blue canine forces doing on a day to day basis in the grind to help law enforcement agencies in their area. I’m sure there’s a vision for 2024. John, what’s that vision? What do you guys see coming up this year? , I’m hoping that we’re gonna kind of revamp a little bit and clean up the, , Rex run and we’re gonna clean up some of these events and kind of grow some of the ways that we’re, we’re fundraising so that Um, [01:10:00] we’re really looking forward to, , you know, enhancing some of the equipment that our dogs have.

, and we’re looking forward to, to really probably growing. , I think growth is key. Um, I, I tell Diane all the time she works tirelessly with all the people that that support her and that help back the blue and that help us.

Um, and I think growth in the terms of. Of getting the name out there, right? It’s like you said, right? You’re in the sea of of nonprofits. How do you get your mission to be known? And I think the best way that we can do that is by talking to people, right? About what it is that our needs are. And what, what the mission is really, I think, even specifically.

Right. So I think for 2024, identifying specific needs that our dogs have communicating them out [01:11:00] to the public a little bit better than we than we have had in the past. And I think just always getting better. Right? How can we get better this year? How can we better our program? Better training, better everything.

So I think, um, when it comes time to, you know, there’s going to be a lot of agencies I know this year that are going to have needs, um, and, and it’s, and it’s hard, you don’t ever want to say no, but I think 24 will be a good year to encourage people to get involved, especially to get other agencies involved.

If you want, you know, if you want a nonprofit to work with you, the easiest way to do that is to find out how you can get involved. Hey, if we need funding for agency, how can I get involved in your nonprofit to be helpful so that you can help fundraise for us? So I think that’s going to kind of be I know I said a lot, but I think we’ve got a lot of hefty goals for for 2024.

and I think. We’re going to set our sights on [01:12:00] growth. How can we grow back the blue canine force to back as many dogs as we can? Yeah. Well, if you’re sitting still, you’re dying, so you’ve got to be growing, right? You’re right. We got it. We got to keep pushing those that are listening, I think it’s important for you to understand that the wheel only turns.

If you get involved in some form or fashion, right. Everybody wants something. But we also got to donate our time and our resources and the things that we have and we’ve been blessed with. And some of those are skillsets. Some of those are money and some of those are talents. So guys, don’t be scared to get involved.

We’re going to have in our show notes, how to contact back to blue canine force. We’re going to give you directions in the show notes on how you can donate. It’s important that even if you can’t donate now or, uh, you know, you have a need maybe to get some understanding on how you can support even if you’re not in the [01:13:00] area that you guys are in in Colorado, but you’re somewhere else in the country, or you want to get this program started or get some guidance on this SRR program.

I mean, it’s remarkable. So The amount of resources that I think that you guys can even lend out outside of just donations is remarkable as well. So we want to make sure everybody has that information. I appreciate that. And I’m more than happy. Trust me. I, like I said, learning a lot, but I’m more than happy to share any information I have or any of the, you know, I do it all the time.

I send people policy procedure, whatever you want. If you are growing a program and you need something. I don’t care. Call me. I give my phone number out to people all the time. The easiest way to do it is just to reach out to somebody. John.

What’s your phone your cell number? If you can give that out now, just joking. I will plaster it out. Just joking. Don’t don’t do that. Yeah, [01:14:00] no, we appreciate it though. I mean, it’s one of those things that’s like, sometimes you’re like, how am I going to get in touch with somebody and, you know, some other state, you know, I’m never going to hear back from this person.

Right? So, sometimes it’s nice to have something you can actually get ahold of. We appreciate you guys having us on the show. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is awesome. Yeah, it’s great. You know, , the biggest focus of the source, uh, is to be a resource for other people, whether it’s starting a kennel, whether it’s training, whether it’s, we run our short sets on Tuesdays and then our long podcast on Fridays.

But it’s really about content of canine and related industry stuff. And it’s stuff that we’ve learned over the years, because just like you guys and your organization, some things we learned through punishment and some things we learned through reward.

And we want to share those, those avenues with other people that may not be as blessed as we’ve been to have a full team, to, to [01:15:00] build it. Essentially out of a garage to what we are today. And it’s, it’s amazing to see that unfold, just like you have those resources that you guys can share on the nonprofit side, on the SRO and that dog program science, like those are things that are unheard of.

And the value of that is unheard of. And, and for those that are even thinking about it, like. This is a valuable resource that, like, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a gym just sitting there that nobody’s even tapped into yet. I feel like, yeah, I think the more, like you said, the more we can utilize information that other people have and kind of work together, especially when it comes to dogs is massive, you know, I’m always willing to steal somebody else’s tip or trick always.

Yeah, of course, I’ll give you credit for it, but I’m going to take it. Yeah, that’s fair. Yep. So, [01:16:00] um, not ashamed at all. Like this, you know, this is the culmination of information that you’ve gathered down that people can tap into. And, before we get off here, I want you to give a shout out one more time to your agency, because I’m sure you guys need people and who wouldn’t want to work for a forward thinking administration.

 Who wouldn’t want to hear for that? Yeah. Yeah. We, we encourage people to, uh, you know, come and apply with Araphoe County Sheriff’s office. Um, we are always looking for people and, you know, like I said, I worked there for 14 years and I know in law enforcement, a lot of people always think the grass is always greener and, but I will say.

You know, I’ve worked there for three different sheriffs and it’s, it’s been unbelievable to see the level of support that we’ve had. And I think that when it comes to law enforcement, pretty powerful when you [01:17:00] can start a new program as just a deputy. I’m not a supervisor. I don’t have any special, you know, rank or anything like that, but it’s pretty powerful that, with me and the help of my supervisor and our team that we were able to do this.

And I think that it’s, it’s awesome to work for a place like that. You’re right. Yeah, awesome. And then, um, again, that contact information will be on the show notes. So we appreciate you, John, and the work you guys are doing, and I appreciate you spending an evening with me. I appreciate you guys. Thank you for having us on for real.

It’s awesome.

Interested in making a guest appearance? Have a topic you want us to discuss? Send us a message!

9 + 12 =

Today, we sat down with John Gray with Back the Blue K9 Force, a non-profit created in 2016 with the mission of providing equipment to Police K9s. That has since shifted into a total of FIFTEEN canines donated to police departments in and around Colorado.


Back the Blue K9 Force:

Website: https://www.backthebluek-9force.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forpolicedogs

Instagram: @backthebbluek9force

Email: [email protected]

Contact Number: (720) 732-5877

DONATE: https://square.link/u/hBewDrHd


Araphoe County Sheriff’s Office:

Website: https://www.arapahoeco.gov/your_county/county_departments/sheriffs_office/our_agency/index.php

Contact Number: 720-874-3600


Looking to connect?


[email protected]


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CustomCanineUnlimited

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/customcanineunlimited

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/CustomCanineUnlimited

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@customcanineunlimited

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