WENATCHEE — His first circuit of the Apple Blossom Grand Parade route left the bomb detective sprawled in the shadow of a parked freight truck, his tongue hanging out.
“We’re from the west side,” said his partner, Washington State Patrol Trooper Dave Edwards, as the morning temperature edged toward 70. “He’s not used to this warm weather.”
The bomb-detecting specialist, who goes by the name of QB, normally works on Puget Sound ferries, casing vehicles for explosive threats. The 4-year-old black Labrador spent Saturday morning working the sidewalks of Orondo Avenue, while down the road another state patrol canine, Teddy, scented Memorial Park with his handler, Trooper Walter Heilig.
The City of Wenatchee agreed to spend $3,200 plus expenses to hire the troopers and their dogs, citing safety concerns after the Boston Marathon bombings. Wenatchee Police Capt. Doug Jones said there was no prior threat to the parade or related Apple Blossom events, but police wanted to make sure the festival went smoothly.
“We wanted to make sure if there was a backpack found or something like that, we wouldn’t have to shut the parade down,” Jones said.
Indeed, one state patrol dog did investigate a misplaced backpack at Memorial Park about 2 p.m. Saturday, but found nothing. Two bomb technicians from the state patrol’s Interagency Bomb Squad were also present, at no cost to the city, in case the dogs did nose out a threat.
QB was bred and trained by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where Edwards learned to handle him in explosives searches. Based in Snohomish, the trooper and his dog are usually assigned to ferry service.
For his work, QB is rewarded with a favorite play toy, rather than a snack like some service dogs. Dogs of QB’s size or larger are preferred for the job, said Sgt. Kerry Kintzley, who oversees the state patrol’s canine programs.
“A lot of what our dogs do is sniff cars at a ferry terminal, so they don’t have to be real big to do that,” Kintzley said. “But other times when we’re called for, say, a school threat, we have to get up on counters and sniff cupboards and things, and if the dog’s bigger, that makes it a little bit easier.”
QB’s name is short for Quackenbush; like other bomb dogs bred for the purpose by federal law enforcement, he’s named for a victim of the 9/11 attacks. Christopher Quackenbush was a lawyer and investment partner who died in the World Trade Center.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123