Chica, one of the Greenfield Police Department’s K-9s, visited the Hillsboro Christian Academy on Friday as students took a break from reading on their fundraising read-a-thon day.
Patrolman Shawn Shanks, along with his wife Shirley, came to the school with the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois to demonstrate some of the dog’s skills.
Receiving her commands in Dutch, Chica showed how she obeyed Shanks, but when it came time for him to show the students the ball tucked in his pocket, he said everyone would see Chica’s “world change,” and it did.
When Shanks withdrew a hard yellow ball from his pocket, the obedient dog previously so intent on her master was seemingly vibrating with excitement as she waited with perked ears and raised paw, ready to pounce. And when she didn’t immediately receive that ultimate treat, she barked about it, which sent the students into peals of laughter.
Shanks said he doesn’t give Chica treats as a reward when she is working, but instead the ball. And once she gets the ball she and her handler have a little romp and that is her reward. Chica was quick to show the students how much she enjoyed her prize for a job well done after she located from several small metal boxes placed around the room where the one was that contained marijuana.
Shanks told the students that Chica has been with him since last April when her previous handler left Greenfield to work at another department. Chica, he said, had been a K-9 officer with the GPD for about four years, and she was reassigned to Shanks.
He had to go through six weeks of training with her, he said, before they were ready to go on the job together. Each month, the state requires them to do 16 hours of training, Shanks said.
The dog is from the Netherlands, he said, and she was initially taught her commands in Dutch, so that’s one reason he commands her in that language. Plus, Shanks said that means he is likely the only one in a given situation that would be able to command the dog.
Someone from the audience asked if the dog would let Shanks know if she detected drugs if they weren’t on duty, and he said she would not.
“These dogs, you turn them on and off,” he said.
Shirley Shanks said that when her husband is readying for work, Chica knows what that means and gets excited. She said she sometimes has to put the dog up until the two officers are ready to leave.
At home where Chica is a part of the Shanks family, she is otherwise a normal dog — playing, lounging and napping.
Following Friday’s demonstration as Chica and Shanks were in the parking lot readying for their return to Greenfield, Chica showed some of the students another special skill. Turns out, the dog is adept at opening car doors.
Chica has a K-9 colleague at GPD. His name is Rony and he went into service with the department last June.
Handler Sgt. Jeremiah Oyer said 3-year-old Rony is a Czechoslovakian shepherd and receives his commands in Czech.
Both dogs are certified in narcotics, tracking, and article searches, according to Oyer.
Interestingly, with both dogs originating from other countries they each have a passport documenting their multi-country travels.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.