SALEM — The letter arrived almost two months ago from the Boston Police Department. They wanted help for the Boston Marathon.
Specifically, they wanted Thor.
The 21/2-year-old German shepherd and his handler, Patrolman Jon Bedard, will be heading to downtown Boston on Monday, April 21, for an event that the whole world will be watching in the wake of last year’s tragic bombing.
Thor is one of three dogs in the Salem Police Department’s relatively new K-9 unit, and the only dog with training in EOD — explosive ordnance detection.
“Some people call them bomb dogs,” said Bedard, who went through a 10-week training with his dog last fall at the Boston Police K-9 Academy.
They worked on detecting numerous explosives from smell alone, training in houses, cars and outdoors.
“He’s imprinted with 21 different odors, all the way from simple flash powders (fireworks) ... all the way to military grade (explosives).”
The training has paid off.
Just a few weeks ago, Bedard and Thor went to Peabody to help police on a drug raid. Once inside an apartment, the dog went to work, quickly searching a room until he reached a closet and went straight to the ground.
“He downed on a gun hidden in a metal box in a closet,” Bedard said.
The dog is trained to point its nose directly at the source of an explosives odor, leaving no doubt where police need to look.
Thor has also taken part in bomb scares, recently searching St. John’s Prep in Danvers and other schools. When the dog was done searching, officials were confident they could allow students and staff back inside.
“It’s just as important when he doesn’t find something,” Bedard said.
While Bedard and Thor have worked Halloween in Salem and other local events, they also have spent a lot of time in neighboring communities.