After nearly seven years of service, Clemson’s bomb-sniffing dog, Doc, is retiring.

Woodrow (left) stands with officer Zach Owen and Doc, who is retiring from CUPD.

Woodrow (left) stands with officer Zach Owen and Doc, who is retiring from CUPD.
Image Credit: Ken Scar / Clemson University

Doc began his work at Clemson in 2010, aiding the Clemson University Police Department (CUPD) in their efforts to keep campus safe. The black Labrador retriever has investigated bomb threats at Clemson and also helped sweep such major venues as Memorial Stadium before events.

The CUPD was one of the first university departments in the region to acquire a bomb-sniffing dog.

Doc is hard-working and very friendly. He and his handler, officer Zachary Owen, worked long hours to ensure student and visitor safety at Clemson. The pair typically spent 12 hours at Memorial Stadium each game day, with Doc sniffing out the stadium and continuing to monitor for threats. Doc’s final task before retiring was to sweep the area at a Clemson baseball game against Florida State.

“It is very important for a canine team to trust and depend on each other for them to be a successful team, and this team has exceeded our expectations,” said police Chief Eric Hendricks.

“We are very proud that Doc will be enjoying his retirement and look forward to our newest canine, Woodrow, who has joined the CUPD family.”

Doc is about to give his nose a rest.

Doc is about to give his nose a rest.

Doc has lived with his handler throughout his service at Clemson. He will continue to live with the family after his retirement. Owen described Doc as “part of the family.” He is happy that Doc will be able to settle down and have time “to just be a dog” playing in the yard with Owen’s son.

After a rigorous 12-week training program and plenty of bonding with his handler, a new dog is almost ready to take over Doc’s position. Woodrow is a 2-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever. He is currently completing his training and will be certified in the next few weeks.

Woodrow is highly energetic and seems to love to serve. He “isn’t happy unless he’s working,” according to Owen.

The newest member of the CUPD got an opportunity to show his skills recently.

Owen hid a fake bomb in the stadium. Woodrow searched enthusiastically, sniffing thoroughly until he caught a whiff of the acidic scent. Once the dog located the trigger scent, he sat down in what is known as a passive alert. The reward for detecting the target is a tennis ball and a game of fetch with Owen.

Woodrow has big paws to fill, but he’s ready to start keeping Clemson safe.