- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is not the cuddly, slobbery dog video typically seen on YouTube.

Fourteen-year-old Blake Pruitt of Westminster has made a documentary titled “Canine” that follows the Maryland Transit Administration’s Police K-9 unit and focuses on the bomb-sniffing dogs that help protect Baltimore’s mass-transit system.

He made the 10-minute film during a three-week stint last year at the Fifth Wall Young Filmmakers Workshop in Baltimore.

The film includes interviews with some of the highest-ranking safety personnel in the state, including Lt. Col. John Gavrilis, the transit administration deputy chief of police, and Capt. William Collins, the transit administration investigations/tactical division commander.

But the real stars are the agency’s police officers and their German shepherd companions. The dogs are trained to sniff out potential chemical, biological or explosive threats on Baltimore subways, light-rail cars and buses.

The teen filmmaker already knew one working pair featured in the documentary - his dad, Officer Tom Pruitt, a K-9 handler for the agency, and Dora, a 4-year-old German shepherd. Dora lives with the Pruitts and their three other dogs when not working.

While at home with the Pruitt family, Dora chases the other dogs, relaxes in her super-sized crate and greets visitors with a hearty, deep-throated bark.

“Before I worked on this, I didn’t really know what he did on a daily basis because they don’t get calls that often,” the teen said.

Then he and his video camera found out.

Some days Officer Pruitt trains Dora to sniff out potentially dangerous objects in buses, rail cars and subway stations. Or if Dora doesn’t feel well, Officer Pruitt simply spends his time in a veterinarian’s office.

“It’s never the same thing every day,” he says in the video.

“Canine” was shown at a Transportation Security Administration convention for K-9 handlers in 2007 in San Antonio. It was also shown last month at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kan., in an event featuring high-school filmmakers.

Officer Pruitt said police agencies across the country have asked for copies of the documentary to show at training and information sessions.

His son is interested in pursuing a career making documentaries. He has created another one called “Press 2 for Spanish” that shows diverse opinions about the use of Spanish in the United States.

“I’d like to do narratives also, but I find that documentaries tend to be better than narratives,” he said. “Documentaries just seem to come naturally to me.”

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