After years of sniffing out drugs, Dingo, a 9-year-old police dog with the Washougal Police Department, will retire to a relaxing life on the couch, his owner said Saturday morning at the dog’s retirement party.
The brown-and-black-brindle Dutch shepherd, who now sports quite a bit of gray on his snout, was deployed in the field more than 500 times, said his owner and former partner, Officer Kyle Day. Dingo worked strictly in narcotics detection in Oregon and Washington and was a police dog for almost seven years, or about 40 dog years.
Dingo worked hard and led a life of excitement.
“He ended up on ‘Cops’ a few months back and found a pound and a half of cocaine in a car,” Day said. “That’s kind of his claim to fame.”
Dingo was one of four police dogs honored at the retirement celebration at the Stevenson Off-Leash Dog Park in Washougal. The event was hosted by DOGPAW, a nonprofit, all-volunteer group that maintains five off-leash parks in Clark County. The group also raised $15,000 to cover the cost of buying another police dog to replace Dingo.
“This has been our biggest fundraiser probably to date,” Mark Watson, a DOGPAW board member who helped organize Saturday’s event, said. DOGPAW stands for “Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington.” Some of that $15,000 will help Washougal police cover the new dog’s food and vet costs for a while.
Dingo’s replacement, Ranger, is a 2-year-old Dutch shepherd. He is undergoing training, and if the training goes well, he will be out in the field by the end of November, Day said.
About 35 people, a bulldog, a Chihuahua and several other dogs attended the celebration. The dogs enjoyed playtime while their humans had coffee and cake.
The youngest of the four canines recognized on Saturday was Ory, a 3-year-old police dog who worked with Vancouver Police Office Ryan Starbuck. Ory was diagnosed with a spinal disease caused by strenuous on-the-job activity. Now the canine, whose 15-month career included chasing down suspects and uncovering about 10 pounds of illegal narcotics, will be in much less pain just “being a dog hanging around the house,” Starbuck said.
Haulf, 8, worked with Officer Chris Crouch of the Battle Ground Police Department for six years and also specialized in tracking down suspects and narcotics. He was picked to be part of the SWAT team in 2010. Crouch said Haulf “saved hundreds of man-hours that it would have taken the two-legged police officers to clear fields, buildings (and) houses.”
Dash, 6, and his partner, Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Seth Brannan, spent hours searching forest lands for illegal marijuana grows, and even got to hang from a helicopter on a static line. “Everything we asked him to do, he did well,” Brannan said.
After the crowd learned about the retiring dogs, police officers demonstrated how their canines are used in the line of duty. One dog sniffed a number of backpacks along the ground before sitting down determinedly next to one of them. Another lunged after a police officer in a padded suit, clamping its teeth down and tugging on the officer’s sleeve.
Most police dogs come from Europe, where they are trained from about 9 weeks old to bite a person’s left arm sleeve, Brannan said. Officers provide further training that teaches them to attack any part of the body, even when their target isn’t wearing a protective suit, and even if their target is wielding a weapon.
Police dogs live with the officers they work with. Even in retirement, Dingo, Ory, Haulf and Dash will continue to live with their officers and their families.
“Dogs are very special to all of us,” Brannan said.