“That means 'stay,'” said the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department deputy, as he prepared for “reality-based training” with fellow deputy Jeremy Osbun and Osbun’s K-9 partner, Zino.
The K-9 pairs spent the morning training in the Grand Haven area. They planned to move on to other areas of the county for the rest of the day.
“Earlier, we were downtown Grand Haven working on obedience and socializing skills,” Somers said.
On Harbor Island, the K-9 unit worked on their tracking skills.
A scenario would be described, a deputy would create a scent trail, and then the deputies worked one dog at a time, taking the dog over every possible surface. The scent trail would go down pavement, into the woods, through a swamp and across the snow, Somers said.
The dogs have to be able to follow that trail, even if somebody has walked across it since the suspect went through.
Another exercise involved putting the dogs on the hood and trunk of the car to corner their target.
“Any obstacle should not be a problem,” Somers said. “They’ve got to be willing to go over and into anything.”
Zino is a 6-year-old Belgium shepherd malinois. Ranger is a 5-year-old German shepherd.
Both deputies are experienced dog handlers, and have had other dogs prior to these animals.
Somers said they do official department trainings with the dogs on one day every other week.
“But you’re doing something with the dogs every day,” he said.