Say hello to Newberg's new canine officer
Tongue wagging, eyes fixed firmly on his handler, Sam waits patiently with his paws out and belly on the pavement. As soon as he hears a command spoken in Dutch, he leaps up and grabs hold of the chew toy in Officer Paul Rapet's right hand.
Rapet leads Sam into the back of his police car and shuts the door. The dog runs back and forth in a frenzy, slamming against the walls of the cruiser. He really, really wants something to do – and most nights that includes chasing criminals and training with Rapet on his patrol.
"He's a work dog," Rapet says. "That's all he wants to do. He is always looking for a task."
Sam, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, is the newest addition to the Newberg-Dundee police force. He takes the place of a German Shepherd named Hammer, who had to retire and become a family pet due to deficiencies in his police work, Rapet said.
As a patrol K-9, Sam's work will include pursuing and – if needed – apprehending criminals, along with protecting Rapet and himself from danger. He is one of three dogs in use by NDPD – the other two are a Labrador retriever named Ruka, who works in narcotics detection, and a German Shepherd named Arko, who is a patrol dog as well.
"The biggest uses for a dog in the patrol realm is chasing bad guys or finding them in a building," NDPD Public Information Officer Brian Hagen said. "If you've got a burglar who has broken into a building, we can let the dog in there to find where he's hiding and bark when they find him. We love those dogs, but they're also a tool to minimize human risk to officers on duty."
Sam came to Newberg by way of Europe – where he was born – and a vendor in California that specializes in police dogs. He is among a large swath of pups that are trained from birth for police work and his breed is especially suited for these jobs due to its temperament.
Rapet has been bonding with and training Sam since November. The duo passed a six-week, intensive training course through the Oregon Police Canine Association and have been on the streets together since early March.
Sam is constantly being trained in obedience, handler protection, self-protection and tracking – all skills necessary to carry out his job. He is the first Belgian Malinois used by the NDPD, but Hagen said he's proven effective so far.
Dogs of Sam's background can cost upwards of $10,000, so the NDPD raised money through the Newberg-Dundee Police Foundation to pay for him. Community members stepped up to donate to the cause as well when it was discovered that Hammer needed a replacement in the K-9 unit.
While Sam is undoubtedly a handsome, fun-loving pup, Hagen warns against civilians adopting or purchasing a Belgian Malinois as they "make terrible pets," but are perfectly suited for police work due to their high drive and motivation for a task.
That doesn't mean they aren't friendly or good around people, though. Rapet looks forward to having Sam out in the community and potentially putting on some demonstrations of Sam's skills this summer.
"He's as social as can be and he has that on-off switch," Rapet said. "He knows when it's time to work and when it's social time. It makes it a lot nicer when he's around people and at social events."
Preparing for a typical work night, Rapet will strap Sam into his harness and head out for his usual patrol. According to Hagen, the police dogs get extremely excited when the harness goes on, because they know it's time to go to work.
All Sam wants to do is protect, serve and sniff.
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