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Marysville K-9 officer adopts retired police dog

Although Radar was a tracking dog rather than a drug-detecting dog, he still managed to uncover drug money on one of his tracks with Marysville Police Officer Stacey Dreyer. - Photo courtesy of Stacey Dreyer.
Although Radar was a tracking dog rather than a drug-detecting dog, he still managed to uncover drug money on one of his tracks with Marysville Police Officer Stacey Dreyer.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Stacey Dreyer.

MARYSVILLE — Marysville Police Officer Stacey Dreyer and his K-9 partner, Radar, have worked together as a team for eight years.

While Radar is still living with Dreyer now, their on-the-job partnership ended earlier this year, when Radar was officially retired as a K-9.

"There's nothing I like about him being retired now, except that he's not physically hurting," Dreyer said. "It's a huge loss to our law enforcement."

Dreyer explained that Radar, a tracking dog, was one of the original K-9s brought on board the Marysville Police Department in 2001, after Dreyer had helped establish the department's K-9 program in 2000. Dreyer and Radar have always worked together, but with Radar turning 11 years old in October, the injuries that he's sustained in the line of duty have taken their toll on his joints.

"He could have continued, but he would have been miserable," Dreyer said of Radar. "He's very intense, with a high drive and a strong will. He never quit, no matter how long we were out on a track. On one track, our third one for that night, he was swimming in water that was up to my waist, and he was so tired that he almost would have gone under if I hadn't held him up, but he still wanted to go on. He still has the heart and soul to do this job, but he's just not able to pull it off anymore."

Dreyer praised Radar for playing a key role in apprehending a number of suspects. Dreyer recalled one DUI case in which the driver had fled the scene before police arrived, which left investigators with "nothing to tie the guy to the crime" without Radar, who finally tracked down the suspect after an hour and a half. Dreyer likewise noted that Radar once pursued a suspect for three and a half hours, refusing to quit even though he was so fatigued that, by the time the suspect was apprehended, Dreyer had to give Radar a ride back to their patrol vehicle in another vehicle, since Radar was too tired to walk back himself.

In many ways, Radar's life is easier now. He'd already been living at Dreyer's house as his K-9, so when Dreyer adopted him after his retirement, it ensured that Radar wouldn't have to adjust to a new owner or new surroundings. Gone are the daily and weekly sessions of obedience training and control work that Dreyer and Radar practiced together. Radar still keeps up his tracking skills with semi-regular searches, but they're more for "fun," according to Dreyer. Still, Dreyer doesn't like leaving his former partner behind when he goes to work now.

"You develop a huge bond with your dog," Dreyer said. "They do amazing things just because you tell them to, like going 30 feet ahead of you in the dark after a suspect with no second thoughts. It hurts when he looks at the car, waiting for me to take him with me, like he's wondering, 'Why are you leaving me at home? What did I do wrong?'"

Without a K-9 partner, Dreyer is uncertain where his career will take him next, but he remains enthusiastic about being a K-9 officer.

"It can be challenging and frustrating," Dreyer said. "When you and your K-9 show up at the scene, everyone's looking to you for an answer. What people can forget is that you're working with a live, thinking animal, and some days, he just doesn't feel very good. But there's nothing more rewarding than seeing your dog help apprehend someone who might not be caught otherwise. I love it. It's a blast, and there's never a dull moment."

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