Where It Started

My name is Jon and I’m the owner and lead creative behind Lifework Productions. In December of 2018, I had a short, yet incredibly influential experience that opened my eyes to the complexities of a world I knew next to nothing about and set in motion my foreseeable future.

In that brief encounter I realized how little I understood about K9s and how much there was for me to learn and experience. As a professional photographer and videographer, as well as an avid fan of documentaries, I was provided an amazing opportunity: I could play with dogs, learn about an incredibly fascinating world that was completely new to me, and live in and create my very own documentary.

How do you turn that down?

On Monday, March 11th, 2019 we officially began production of the largest project we’ve ever undertaken – Under The Vest: Inside The World of Police Dogs. During our production we’re looking at the training process, the bond between K9s and their human partners, what life is like at home, how K9s benefit their communities, why certain breeds are popular for law enforcement, how dogs think and learn, and what it takes for a dog to become a police K9.

We’re interviewing K9 handlers, trainers, specialists, and community members. We’re attending training, certification events, demonstrations, and community outreach programs. We’ve even gotten in “the suit.”

As we capture a behind-the-scenes look at this fascinating world, we’re be sharing our experiences with you on both our website and social media. (You can follow along with the series production on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube).

The Topics We’re Exploring

Training a K9 and learning to work together as a team takes an unimaginable amount of time and commitment. Unfortunately, that behind-the-scenes effort rarely gets any publicity. Our goal is to shine a light on all the aspects of the world of police dogs that are so often overlooked.

The history of police dogs
How K9s benefit their communities
K9 skill sets
Breeds and genetics
Differences between K9s and house dogs
Pairing the handler and dog
The bonding process
How dogs think and learn
Training processes
Learning to work as a team
Scent detection
Article Search
Area Search
Tracking and trailing
Maintenance training
Community meet and greets
Health and diet
Protective gear
Training equipment
Home life

Where We’re Headed

Under The Vest: Inside the World of Police Dogs was created with the intention of producing a nine-episode series, following the career timeline of a police K9. As we approached the release of our pilot episode, our efforts, as well as those of filmmakers around the world, were put on hold as the events of 2020 escalated.

We took a step back and began to reach out to the K9 community to find ways to continue the project in other directions. It became apparent that a finite series would not only limit the amount of nuances and specialties we’d be able to explore, but that the project would come to an end sooner rather than later.

To put it simply – we’re having far too much fun to let that happen.

Instead, we chose to look to the silver lining of the situation and adapt the direction we’re headed. During the following months, we transitioned from a nine-episode series to an open-ended project that has the flexibility to grow and expand, exploring both broad concepts and specific corners of the K9 community. Now, we’re headed out on the open road. We’ll be working with departments, training groups, organizations, and specialists around the country to discover all we can about the world of police dogs.

Departments Involved

Throughout our production, we’ve been amazed at how wide-spread yet close-knit the K9 community is. We’ve working with new departments every week and connecting with handlers and K9 supporters from around the planet.  Our ability to grow and learn about the world of police dogs is thanks all the departments that have supported and joined our documentary project. 

Michigan State Police
Macomb County, MI
West Bloomfield, MI
Wayne State University, MI
Waterford, MI
Oak Park, MI
Rochester, MI
Royal Oak, MI
Southfield, MI
Hazel Park, MI
Sterling Heights, MI
Shelby Township, MI
Madison Heights, MI
Bloomfield Township, MI
Centerline, MI
Novi, MI
Roseville, MI
Eastpointe, MI
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Alger County, MI
Marquette, MI
Marquette County, MI
Antrim County, MI
Genesee County, MI
Troy, MI
Dearborn, MI
Dayton International Airport, OH (via TSA & DHS)

If you are a part of the K9 community or are interested in connecting about our documentary project, please email us at Info@LifeworkProductions.com