Washington County Sheriff's Office's new K-9 tracking team
Criminals can run, but they can't hide from the Washington County Sheriff's Office's new K-9 tracking team.
The department welcomed German shepherd Bolo, who is almost 2, to join deputy Michael Zaugg on the streets. The energetic pup is trained in apprehension, tracking and locating people, including articles with human scent.
"His hunt drive," said Zaugg, asked what stands out the most about K-9 Bolo. "He loves to use his nose and loves to find things. Every time we go into a house, he's automatically searching with his nose. … That's his moneymaker."
It was love at first sight for Zaugg and Bolo.
Last November, Zaugg went to a vendor in California to test out different dogs on their drive, demeanor and sociability. He remembers trying not to pick a canine based on looks, but then he saw Bolo out of the bunch.
"I love the way he looks, and you're not supposed to pick a dog out by that," said Zaugg with a laugh.
Bolo's coat has a classic German shepherd look with black and dark brown covering most of his body. Along with hints of white on his chest, there are traces of caramel starting at his eyes and extending to his paws.
"After (passing) all of the tests, I said, 'We'll take him home,'" added Zaugg.
He's a good-looking dog, sure, but K-9 Bolo has to be a good police dog, too. Bolo has been training for about seven weeks to finally be able to respond to calls in the community. He's only had one call so far, but he's still getting adjusted to real-life situations.
Zaugg suspects Bolo was once a kennel dog when he lived in Europe, which means the pup doesn't have much experience with normal interactions or loud noises.
"Just walking down the road and cars go by was new to him," recalled Zaugg. "He didn't like that at first, because of the loud noises (and) the wind. That stuff can be intimidating."
Despite being afraid of cars or stairs when he encountered them for the first time, Bolo is learning, and he's a big asset to the department, Zaugg said.
"Not only for him to keep me safe when we're hunting and looking for bad guys, but then to my team and deputies that I work with," Zaugg said. "It's critical."
Police dogs typically live with their human partners, and K-9 Bolo has also been a big addition to Zaugg's family.
When the four-legged officer isn't roughhousing with the deputy's Newfoundland puppy, he's playing fetch with Zaugg's three young boys.
"It's good for him to go home and be a dog," he said. "Then when it's time to come to work, he does it. As soon as I put my uniform on and I walk out to get him out of the kennel, he gets all jacked up and excited."
Bolo is the second police dog with whom Zaugg has worked during his time at the Sheriff's Office. In some ways, as he learns to work with Bolo, it's easier to have prior experience working with other partnered pups, he said.
"But he's also a totally different dog," added Zaugg. "I've had to tell myself to kind of reset and remember that what worked for the old one isn't necessarily (going to) work for him."
Despite having weeks of training under his belt, K-9 Bolo isn't done just yet. He's considered a "green dog" because he has no prior training or title, explained Zaugg.
Zaugg had barely finished his sentence when Bolo jumped up on him, standing up on his two back paws.
"He's very energetic and very excited, but (sometimes) he doesn't understand," Zaugg said. "He hasn't put that all together yet."
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