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Czech-bred K-9 proving himself

December 21, 1998

Czech K-9By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Straining against his leash, 2-year-old German shepherd Andy knows he has a job to do and can't wait to get started.

Given the command to search by Deputy James Grimm, the animal quickly goes to work sniffing out drugs hidden underneath the license plate of a Washington County Sheriff's Department cruiser. Having found the drugs in the practice drill within 30 seconds, Andy sits at attention staring at the hiding place.

As a new addition to the Sheriff's Department K-9 unit, Andy has proved a valuable asset to the force, Grimm said.

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The male dog recently made two "finds" - locating suspects for the sheriff's department.

Bred in the Czech Republic, Andy (pronounced Ah-dy) is one of four dogs working for the sheriff's department. A $4,500 investment, Andy is considered a utility dog because he is trained for several purposes, including tracking people, finding drugs and crowd control.

The sheriff's department also has two female dogs, Ally, a bloodhound, and Sam, a Labrador retriever, used to find drugs. A male German shepherd, Ivan, is used for patrols.

Frisky and playful, the 75-pound Andy is not imposing until given a command by Grimm.

When told to attack fellow sheriff's Deputy Mark Knight (wearing protective gear), Andy snaps to attention and performs as asked.

His grip is firm as he hangs on to Knight's arm despite Knight's attempts to shake him off.

He finally lets go after Grimm gives him a command and pulls him back.

His reward for apprehending Deputy Knight: a few minutes of play with his favorite toy, a tennis ball. To keep his weight down and for medical reasons, Andy is never given food as a reward.

Unlike some police dogs, Andy has not been trained to be constantly aggressive. "He's docile," when not at work, Grimm said.

"He's not a monster or a man-hater that just wants to bite people," Grimm said.

In fact, when unleashed, Andy will likely give you a curious sniff but is generally most interested in his tennis ball.

A smart dog, Andy uses his sense of smell, movement and hearing to do his job Grimm said.

The deputy said he and Andy were quick to form a bond. Grimm said he was excited to become a part of the K-9 unit and receive his first dog.

"I love dogs. It's all I ever wanted to do," Grimm said.

The sheriff's department chose to buy the dog from the Czech Republic because of its reputation for producing excellent K-9s, he said.

The deputy and Andy underwent three months of training in Baltimore, where they became acquainted and Grimm learned the proper commands in Czech.

As Grimm's partner, Andy goes on patrols with him and lives at his home when not on duty.

Grimm estimates his dog's career at eight years and his life span at up to 13 years.

When the time comes to retire, Andy will likely remain with him, Grimm said.

He said the dog gets along well with his two cats and is protective of his wife and 4-month-old daughter.

Andy knows the difference between work and play, Grimm said. He said the dog knows when he gets into the cruiser and the lights go on and he hears the siren that there's a job to be done.

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