Joy the K9 Crime Fighter and Officer Madden

NAI’s favorite “human” Joy is featured in this piece about our new well-loved canine.

Many people walk the halls and catch a glimpse of a furry tail turn the corner, but don’t know the story behind the four-legged hero of our school who is just as friendly as he is formidable.  Joy and his handler Officer Bryan Madden, both of McCandless Police Department, help to protect our school and both of their feats should be recognized. On the surface, Joy is a regular playful pooch when he’s off duty. However, his warm and fuzzy exterior and soulful eyes conceal a highly disciplined and trained police dog and loyal crime-fighting partner readily capable of ferociously taking down a bad guy, jumping through the window of a car, or detecting illegal drugs.  A special thanks to Officer Madden for taking the time out of his and Joy’s busy schedule to chat for the following interview. Also, happy early birthday to Joy!

Sofia Brickner
Officer Madden and Joy

How often do you visit the school with Joy?

“I try to visit each building at least once a month.”


What is your usual daily routine with Joy?

“Depends on the hours that I’m working that day, he has to be fed 2 hours before work, so I’ll get up and make sure that he’s fed 2 hours before start time. All he wants to do is go to work, he wants to go in the car. We respond to calls if we’re not busy we try to visit a school somewhere. I take him into the classrooms, talk to the kids, talk about him, explain what he is and what he does so that hopefully, they won’t be afraid of him. We respond to calls when we’re needed, and I’ve even gone to other departments to help them with him.”


What can you and Joy do to protect our school?

“Joy’s senses are way better than humans, his ears, he can hear things we can’t hear, he can see things we can’t see, and he can smell things that we can’t smell. He is a narcotics dog, so from time to time we come in and we’ll sniff some lockers to see if we find anything. He can track somebody that gets lost so if somebody is running and gets lost he can actually track them and find them. He can also help find things that you might lose like your cell phone. He makes us safer because he knows where danger is before we do.”


Does Joy live with you or elsewhere?

“He lives with me so I have to put up with his antics 24/7!”


How old is Joy currently, and how old was he when he began his training?

“You typically begin their training around one year of age, he was almost 2 when we got together and started our training together. He will be 3 next month at the end of November, so he’s been with us for almost a year.”


How was Joy trained to be able to do the work that he does with you now?

“The dogs are bred for this kind of work. Genetically they are already predisposed to do the things that they do because their parents did it, their grandparents did it, they come from lines of working dogs so a lot of these things just come naturally to them There are professional people that teach them the skills to track and sniff for drugs, really honestly all they do is work to be rewarded with playtime and a lot of the things that they do they think is actually play to them. So there’s some interesting psychology at work on how they’re motivated.”


Where do you do your training together?

“We train 4 hours every week, organized. One week I train with Ross Township, Northern Regional Port Authority, and Indiana, those who have dogs out in this area we train together, and then on the other week I train with the city of Pittsburgh and their K9 dogs so I try to learn from everybody.”


Are there any specific training techniques that were hard for him to master?

“No…  he amazes me every time we work. He is just so good at what he does, it’s hard to imagine him — he’s so friendly and so social — it’s hard to imagine him going after someone and taking them down, but he’ll do it. We trained with a guy in a car and sent him through the open window at the guy. I haven’t found anything that he really isn’t any good at.”


How did you modify your police car to accommodate Joy?

“The normal cage in the back for prisoners, the normal back seat, all of that stuff had to come out and there’s an entire special insert that goes in there that’s designed specifically for a dog. So the whole back seat area of the car is his. There’s no seat, it’s just a big giant contained area for him. There’s a door that I can open in between the two front seats where he can come out into the front seat area. We did have a heat alarm system installed in the car, so if it gets too hot inside the car it sets off bells and whistles and the windows roll down and the fan comes on and the horn starts honking, the lights start flashing. I have a little pager that goes off, so that’s for his protection. Those are the two big things that we had to do it, other than that it’s pretty much just a regular vehicle.”


On days that you and Joy are not at work, what do you both like to do in your free time?

“He likes to be a  dog. I try to give him time to do just that. Just be a dog. Freetime in the house where he can lay around and chew on a bone and just relax. He’s always up for work and so on alert all the time, I try to give him downtime to balance that out. He absolutely loves going for walks so we try to go for a nice walk every day, get some of that energy out of him and get in his exercise. I like to give him free time too.”


Can you share some of Joy’s best success stories?

“His first drug find was in a vehicle, thanks to Mike (Officer Metzger). Mike stopped the car, we sniffed the car, he indicated on the car so I put him inside the car. He indicated on a backpack that was inside the car. When we opened up the backpack, there was just a little bit of loose marijuana in the bottom of it, which was what he was indicating on, but also in that backpack was 17,730 dollars. In his first official narcotics work, he paid for himself. His first one was one of his best. He has two successful tracks for bad guys. DUI crash, he (the driver)  walked away from the car, 1:00 in the morning, dark. We looked for at least an hour for this guy, we looked all over the area and couldn’t find him, so Joy was given a shot at it, and in 10 minutes we had the guy in handcuffs. He went right to him. He amazes me every time we go to work.”


Does Joy have a favorite treat or toy?

“Yes, his favorite toy is a ball on a rope and that’s his #1 reward that he gets. He goes absolutely crazy for it. He has a nice big deer antler to chew on and that’s his favorite thing to chew on.”

Sofia Brickner
Joy’s favorite reward

What do you like best about your job?

“The fact that I can be with him. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve been at this for 29 years, 28 of those 29 this is what I’ve wanted to do. Being able to take him to work every day and work with him and watch him. To just be amazed by what he can do makes it all worthwhile. Finding the bad guys when we can’t find him any other way, he’s a huge asset for us, and the social aspect of it too.”