The Zionsville Police Department was dealt an ace with its new K-9 unit.
Eso, Czech for “ace,” officially came aboard Monday, May 20, after spending six weeks of intensive training with Officer Wayde Knox at Vohne Liche Kennels in Peru, Ind., the feature kennel for the National Geographic show “Alpha Dogs.”
“The dog came pre-trained so the course was mainly for the handlers to get to know the dogs,” Knox said. “It was tough; it was around a 10 to 12 hour day and had some night classes.”
Knox said the toughest part of the training was mental.
“I knew the physical part would be tough, trying to keep up with the dog,” he said. “The mental part was really tough because you are constantly having to multi-task and think about every move that you are doing. If I stop, that could mean something completely different to him than what I’m thinking. The biggest thing was to keep moving, knowing what hand the leash is in, watching what you are doing, rewarding at the right time and watching the actions of the dog to see if he’s trying to tip me off to something.”
Knox, who started with ZPD in 2008, became interested in bringing a K-9 unit to the Zionsville force after working in a small town in southern Kentucky.
“It was a small, rural area that was pretty rough,” he said. “I was partners with the guy who had the K-9 unit, and I got to see him deploy the dog and everything that it could do. I could see how much safer it made our job.”
Safety was the biggest reason Knox wanted to bring a dog to Zionsville.
“He can apprehend a suspect if it’s unsafe for our officers to go into a location,” he said. “He brings a big boost of safety for our officers because he can tell me what’s on the other side of the wall without having to see in there because his sense of smell is so good.”
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for more on this story.