|Deputy Blake Gardner and Enzo. Enzo is easing into retirement life after 10 years of duty as a drug dog for the sheriff's office.|
Deputy Blake Gardner is in the process of training a new drug dog named Oskar. His old drug dog, Enzo, is slowly easing into retirement life after 10 years of hard work for the Emery County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Gardner said, "Oskar arrived on June 8, he is a Dutch Shepherd and is 2-years-old. He came from Holland. He is not certified for patrol work yet, but he is certified in narcotics. He should be certified in patrol work by Thanksgiving. Enzo was certified in patrol, narcotics and SWAT. Oskar will be a dual purpose dog, trained in narcotics and patrol.
"In order to be certified they must pass obedience, agility, tracking, evidence searches, building searches, physical apprehension and the laying on of teeth in their training. He will bite and hang on until given the command to release. Enzo was trained to only respond to my command and Oskar will be the same way. Right now Oskar will go to some of the other officers, but when he is fully trained he won't do that any more. Enzo could sit in the middle of the floor and people would call him but he wouldn't respond to anyone but me.
"Oskar trains at the Utah Police Academy in Salt Lake and will be certified as a canine police officer. In Enzo's years with the Sheriff's Office he participated in seven apprehensions and seized more than $9 million in illegal drugs. For eight years, Enzo and I patrolled I-70.
"When Oskar searches and picks up the scent of the drugs he will scratch where the odor is the strongest. Oskar responds to commands spoken in the Dutch language. The funding for Oskar came from the Emery County School District and the drug task force. He cost $5,000. We've had a lot of help in preparing for this new dog. Christensen Ready Mix and Magnuson Lumber donated the materials for his new kennel at my home in Cleveland. He lives at my home and we're on the same shift. We are always on call to assist our office as well as other agencies needing assistance.
"He could help with search and rescue, but he is not a blood hound and tracks by ground disturbances only. The drive in the dog leads him to want to bite at the end, so he could only search by leash; because he can't differentiate between the good guys and the bad. We also visit the schools and do demonstrations.
"I will take him into the junior high schools and the high school and he will do random locker checks. The lockers aren't opened, but he could tell if the odor was there. He is trained in five odors, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
"I had an interest in working with a drug dog and talked to Sheriff Lamar Guymon about it. Deputy Martin Wilson had a dog named Alex for six or seven years before we got Enzo and it was just something I wanted to do. Oskar is not mean or vicious, but on command he will go and attack. If there are any problems within the jail facility itself with the inmates, Oskar can go and help. It's all just a game to the dog, he's not mean but he is capable of going and biting. As his trainer he responds only to my commands. When he is fully trained, when I tell him to lay down; he will be there laying down when I get back. He will also defend me if he thinks I am threatened.
"I really like this work and enjoy working with the dog. It's amazing to me what the dog will do and it is a challenge to get them to do it. You get very attached to the dogs, they make good companions because they don't talk back. Teaching the dog discipline is one of the most important things. When you tell him to do something you need to make sure he does what he was told to do. We don't feed him any table scraps or anything like that, then we know for sure when he goes in on a search warrant that he is only searching for drugs and not seeking out scraps and he's not distracted by food.
"It's fun for the dog or he wouldn't do it. Oskar always wears an electronic shock collar. This is so he can be controlled from a distance. It is like having insurance so I can be in 100 percent control of the dog at all times.
"I'd just like to keep Enzo at home until he dies. He's getting old and with his arthritis it's hard for him to jump up on cars and things like that. He'll just get to stay home and be a dog now, and I'm looking forward to working with Oskar for many years."