Buster named Top Dog by a noseDickinson Police Department Senior Patrol Officer Corey Lee believed his canine partner, Buster, was a top dog for narcotics detection, searches and tracking. Now, Buster has a trophy to prove it.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson Police Department Senior Patrol Officer Corey Lee believed his canine partner, Buster, was a top dog for narcotics detection, searches and tracking. Now, Buster has a trophy to prove it.
Buster’s skills were recognized at the Midwest Canine Alternatives competition in Camp Ripley, Minn., May 14-18, when he came home with the 2012 Top Dog (overall) trophy.
“I’m always proud of my dog,” he said. “But I definitely got choked up. My dog has a hip problem, and this is probably his last year of competition. That makes it mean that much more. We’ve gotten trophies before, but this is the big one we always shoot for — Top Dog.”
Buster rides in the back seat on patrols with Lee, and they’ve been together for five years.
The competition was part of the annual certification involving outdoor narcotics with vehicles, indoor narcotics and an advanced division.
Buster went against 23 dogs from Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.
The dogs were primarily Labradors, German shepherds and Malinois.
Lee likes Labs because of their temperament.
“We do a lot of demonstrations for kids, they have the intelligence we’re looking for and the nose,” he said.
The judges used a point system — how the handlers performed and how the dogs performed.
They watched and scored the participants during certification. In addition, there was an advanced portion with a vehicle containing a number of hidden items, he said.
“You would have to locate each hide, and once finished, go to one of the judges and tell him where the hides were — it was also a timed event,” he said.
Lee said the dog needs to be within a foot of each hidden item.
“They take all the scores and that’s how they get the Top Dog,” he said.
Buster won over the second-place dog from Grand Forks by fractions of a point, Lee said.
“I always reward him every day for what he does — lots of play and lots of praise; he has it pretty good,” he said.
Dickinson Police Department Patrolman John Hiltunen’s canine partner, Samson, was certified for the first time at Midwest Canine Alternatives. He was certified in narcotics detection, searches and tracking, Hiltunen said.
They became partners three months ago. Ray Becker Canines trained the dogs.
Hiltunen applied for a canine partner and went through an interview process.
“His main job is primarily narcotics detection on vehicles in town,” he said. “I hope to do some tracking with him — I enjoy that.”
Samson is on duty whenever Hiltunen is working. After hours, Samson goes home with the officer.
“The dog has a great personality,” Hiltunen said. “I love seeing him work, especially when he finds it.”
If Samson picks up a scent, he will scratch at whatever he finds, his breathing may change or his head may snap.
“The more you learn about your dog, you pick up on small behavioral changes,” Hiltunen said.
Samson was recently recognized as a canine member of the Dickinson Police Department with a badge purchased by Scott Karsky, State Farm Insurance agent.
“I’m very much a dog lover and when they approached me for badges for the dogs, I thought it was a great idea,” Karsky said.
Buster and Samson were the first dogs to be given a badge to wear on their collars.
“They’re invaluable in our community the way it’s changing with drugs,” Karsky said. “They’re extra officers.”