Seven-month-old K-9 Pocket (formerly Payton), a young Belgium Malinois rescued by Muscatine-based animal welfare organization It Takes A Village Animal Rescue and Resources, has been chosen to join a local narcotics detection team.

Dog foster mom Jessie Ng says she knew there was something special about the dog the night she brought her home, according to a Tuesday release from It Takes a Village.

“All it took was a single demonstration on how to open the crate door to get a piece of treat inside for Pocket to do it on her own,” Ng said.

In the days to follow, Pocket’s natural abilities became more evident. What were meant to be simple games of fetch revealed relentless drive and determination, the release said. Recognizing some familiar “working dog” traits, Ng decided to dive in a little deeper and see just how much drive this dog really had.

Seven-month-old K-9 Pocket with trainer Jenny Lea Wyffels, who owns Cooperative Canine Concepts + K911.

Using skills she acquired during a previous foster experience, Ng began a series of tests used to screen dogs for suitability of placement as a working dog. After seeing impressive results on a series of hunt tests, she reached out to friend and behavior consultant/K9 trainer Jenny Lea Wyffels, who previously picked rescue dogs for work placements.

Upon assessment, Wyffels decided that Pocket made a good working dog candidate.

The credentialed trainer carried out extensive hunt tests with Pocket over the next few days, as well as testing the young dog in various environments. Pocket’s natural abilities continued to become more and more evident with each testing opportunity, and Wyffels made the decision to adopt Pocket herself, the release said.

“Pocket showed environmental stability, sociability, good drive and extreme tenacity in her desire to hunt for a ball,” she said. “Being a rescue was an additional bonus, as she is everything we like to represent as ambassadors for rescue going in to working placement.”

Rescue president Meagan Koehler is thrilled about K-9 Pocket’s future.

“Our mission is to give these rescue pups the life they deserve,” she said in the release. “For a dog like Pocket, a traditional home environment was not ideal. She needs and deserves that constant enrichment.”

Dogs suited for working dog placement are often labeled as undesirable, or even unadoptable, due to their high energy levels and obsessive nature, It Takes a Village said.

Pocket joins her new brother K-9 Tugboat, also a rescue dog, in Wyffels’ home. Like her new big brother, Pocket is currently being trained as a narcotics detection K9. “K-9 Pocket is going to serve our community, doing exactly what she loves in the care of a wonderful human who loves her. What more could we ask for?” Koehler said.

Jenny Lea Wyfflels is the owner of Colona-based Cooperative Canine Concepts + K911. The K911 branch is dedicated to providing continued education and maintenance training to police K9 teams.

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