What has four legs, a tail and looks like an ordinary pet? A former resident of the Trinity community whose talents and training have created for her a life out of the ordinary.
Though not technically a student at Trinity, Jurgens, a yellow lab lived and learned on campus and befriended faculty members just like her human counterparts. She was fostered by Trinity faculty during her training as an explosives detection dog and will be taking her finely tuned sense of smell to San Fransisco this weekend to work at the Super Bowl.
Jurgens came to Trinity as a puppy in December 2011. Associate vice president and dean of students, David Tuttle laughed while reminiscing about Jurgens’s stay on campus and the mischievous antics for which she was famous.
“Jurgens had this bigger-than-life personality,” Tuttle said. “She was really smart and really kind of naughty.”
Jurgens was no ordinary puppy, she came from a facility called Lackland that bred dogs specifically to be trained to be explosives detection dogs. Her high levels of energy and
though maybe frustrating at times, were actually characteristics needed for her future job detecting explosives.
Tuttle teamed up with Katharine Martin, coordinator of student-edited publications, who thought fostering the puppy would be a fun project. They both grew to love Jurgens, despite her sometimes wild behavior.
“She [Martin] agreed that Campus Publications would take care of her during the day but she needed a home base at night and on weekends — that would be my house — much to my wife’s chagrin,” Tuttle said.
Students also volunteered to help take care of Jurgens while she was on campus by taking her on walks.
While at Trinity, Jurgens provided a lively and energetic spirit with which students could interact and enjoy a break from classes. Her life and her name also served to memorialize a fallen hero and continue his legacy by protecting the country.
“They [the breeder] named them [the dogs] after 9/11 victims,” Tuttle said. “She was named after a guy named Paul Jurgens,”
Jurgens was a police officer killed in the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. Tuttle was able to get in touch with some of his family members, who came to Trinity to give a presentation on Paul and celebrate his life.
Eventually, her time on campus drew to an end and Tuttle and the rest of the Trinity community bid farewell to Jurgens in October 2012.
“Needless to say, I got really attached to this little dog,” Tuttle said. In fact, he got to see her again when his wife surprised him for his birthday by arranging a reunion between the two in 2013.
Jurgens continued training then graduated and recieved her credentials to be an explosives detection dog in May 2013. She and her handler accepted a position at Hobby International Airport in Houston. Her latest claim to fame is her recent selection to serve as an explosives detection dog at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as a record number of people travel through its terminals for the 2016 Super Bowl that will take place this weekend.
“Jurgens and I will be supporting screening operations at SFO airport, as the airport is expecting record passenger throughput,” said Robert “Kurt” Evans, transportation security inspector, and Jurgens’s current handler.
Evans and Jurgens arrived in San Francisco earlier this week. Evans says that, as usual, Jurgens seems excited about her latest task.
“It took us five hours in flight, so she was a bit weary from traveling, [but] she seems eager to get to work here at SFO,” Evans said.
An event of this caliber is an exciting task and is just the kind of task for which Jurgens has been training.
“[Jurgens’s] ongoing training at home has prepared her for work here in San Francisco,” Evans said. “Upon leaving she will have screened thousands of passengers.”
Though she sees her task as a fun search for her toy — as that is how the trainers teach her — Jurgens’s job is very important to the safety of millions of people. During her less serious free time, Evans says she enjoys playing fetch at the park.
Those at Trinity who got to interact with Jurgens remember her fondly and are excited for her to embark on this prestigious endeavor. The Dean chronicled her time on campus through a series of blog posts. Photos and videos of Jurgens’s time on campus are archived on the Trnity website at inside.trinity.edu/dean-students/dog-jurgens.