Duke is a 9-year-old Labrador Retriever. He’s a drug dog with the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office. Though he’s now an elite working member of law enforcement, his beginnings are humble.
"We got him from the Canyon County Animal Shelter,” says Dep. Bryan Williams, Duke’s partner. “We… rescued him from there and turned around and trained him on narcotics, and he's been my partner for the last six years."
Duke has the drive and spirit of a hard-working dog while he’s on duty.
"When he's searching, his whole demeanor just kind of perks up, he has a lot of energy,” Williams says. “But when he's done, he's the laziest dog you'll ever meet."
The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office currently employs ten K-9s: two apprehension dogs and eight drug dogs. Six of the drug dogs were adopted into their life of service.
Cpl. Casey Zechmann helps select dogs for the K-9 program. He says he’ll test the dogs briefly before adoption. If they’re adopted, they’ll start training.
"Most of the time the dogs work out, I only have a small percentage that has not worked out," Zechmann says.
The dogs that don't have exactly what it takes get sent back to the shelter, but their stories have a happy ending at a forever home.
"The last dog that didn't work out, she was adopted the same day that we returned her,” Zechmann says. “When we select these dogs we look for the sociability of them, we look for dogs that are people friendly, dogs that aren't aggressive. If they don't have the drives they're looking for they make phenomenal domestic pets."
The K-9s that are selected dedicate their lives to working for the community from which they came.
"In my opinion, I think it adds because, here it is, you give up this dog to the shelter, he's sad, he might be a little depressed, and we pick him up and we bring new life into these dogs," Williams says.
As for Duke, his handler says he’s looking forward to retirement within the next few months.
"When they retire him, I'll definitely keep him,” Williams says. “He's been my partner for six years and it's hard to give away a dog you have that close of a bond with."
Zechmann says Duke’s replacement is currently in training. She, too, was adopted from the shelter.