Long paw of law shakes kids’ hands
The deputy was barely visible underneath a mound of children who swarmed to hug him.
Not all police officers get this type of public support. But Deputy Tracker, a 4-year-old German shepherd, is accustomed to adoration.
He returned the favor with well-placed licks.
“He kissed me,” a delighted third-grader shrieked.
Tracker and his partner, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Fleck, took time off from patrol Monday and Tuesday to visit a couple third-grade classes at Meyers Elementary School.
Tracker impressed kids Monday with his keen nose and abilities when Fleck put him through his paces during a demonstration. On Tuesday, Fleck and Tracker came into the classroom to answer questions and help dispel misconceptions about dog behavior.
“This is a yearly visit we do to Meyers and Sierra House elementary schools,” Fleck explained. “We visit a grade that the school has determined is at an age where peer pressure starts kicking in. The kids get a chance to have a positive interaction with law enforcement and see a positive role model. We also work to prevent accidental dog bites on juveniles. Almost every classroom I go into there are three or four kids that have been bitten.”
In preparation for the visit, Joanne Bottini had her students read “The Dog School” – a book on police dog training.
Tracker lounged nonchalantly while Fleck fielded questions from the kids.
“Do you speak German to him?”
“If someone hit Tracker would they be arrested?”
“How does Tracker know if he’s looking for a good person or a bad person?”
“Is there a lot of bad guys and bad things in Tahoe?”
Several kids related good and bad experiences with dogs giving Fleck a chance to talk about dog’s instinctual behaviors and how to avoid getting hurt. Fleck cautioned that a wagging tail says nothing about a dog’s intentions.
“What is a dog saying when he barks?” Fleck asked the kids.
“Get back,” they chorused.
“When you look at a dog can you tell if its friendly or not?” he asked.
“Who do you need to ask?” Fleck prompted.
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