Dog proves he’s a star |

Dog proves he’s a star

For Buddy and Brian McGuckin the connection wasn’t instantaneous. There were discussions, serious discussions. Like any long-term relationship the 2-year-old Belgium shepherd, a Malinois, and the South Lake Tahoe police officer had to work out the bumps.

At 4, with more than a year on the street behind him, Buddy finishes McGuckin’s thoughts.

“He was a lot of work to put on the streets,” McGuckin said, patting his partner. “But how much he’s progressed and how far he’s come in the last year and a half is incredible.”

The pair took second place in the novice division at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s 2001 K-9 Trials last month competing against seven other working dogs. Buddy showed off his obedience, agility, search and protection skills.

“He had to do things like catch a fleeing felon and come back and protect me,” McGuckin explained.

Buddy is one of two working canines with the police force. He came on staff after McGuckin’s first canine partner, Jerry “gave up the bite.”

“He just wouldn’t bite anymore. It happens,” McGuckin said. “They’re not computers.”

Jerry, who had been with McGuckin for a year, was sent back to the breeder in Holland in exchange for Buddy.

Sgt. Richard Munk, the officer in charge of the K-9 program, said between Buddy and Hobbes, officer David Allen’s canine partner, the department schedules dogs seven nights a week. At full staff the K-9 unit runs two officers on the night shift and one one days.

In July of 1997, when a German shepherd named Kris was hit by a car during off-duty hours the department turned to the community for financial help filling the void. Jerry was purchased with community support. Munk estimated that around $10,000 to $12,000 is invested in a police dog when it goes on duty. Even though the department is still short a dog, Munk said it is not looking for more donations.

“The circumstance before was unusual because we lost a dog with no budget for a new one,” Munk explained. “In next year’s budget I’ve asked to fill that position.”

Both Buddy and Hobbes are trained to track, do area searches and handler protection. The dogs are now receiving preliminary training in narcotics detection.

When he isn’t fighting crime, Buddy enjoys family life with McGuckin at home. But he’s always on alert.

“It’s hard to do yard work with him around,” McGuckin said. “He likes to attack the shovels.”

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