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Officers discuss training, 24-7 life with canine partner

They’re considered man’s best friend, and in a way that means they’re a partner. And a partner is exactly what police dogs are to a few Pocatello officers.

Jackie, the Belgian Malinois demonstrated his obedience skills Tuesday morning. His partner, Master Patrol Officer Josh Hancock, ordered Jackie to return to him as the dog ran toward a “suspect,” Pocatello Police Capt. Scott Marchand dressed in a padded suit.

But just as quickly as Jackie came back to his partner, Hancock issued a command, and Jackie went right back and latched onto Marchand’s padded arm. But Jackie doesn’t see it as taking down a suspect. He’s just getting his toy.

“Everything with the dogs is toy-driven,” Hancock said. “So if we’re working with the bite suit, it’s a toy. If we’re looking for narcotics, he’s looking for his toy.”

Hancock has trained with Jackie every day for a year and a half.

“The initial training is 240 hours, and that doesn’t include everything that you do off the clock,” Hancock said. “I was training with him seven days a week, and I’m doing something with him every single day.”

The partnership isn’t just a work partnership. The dogs go home with the officers, become part of the family and play just like any other dog. But that’s only at home.

“They’re with us all the time, at work and at home,” said officer Shane Jones, another K-9 officer. “So I guess you could say there’s more of a special bond between a handler and his police dog than maybe just somebody and their pet.”

Jones has just recently started training with his 22-month-old Mallinois, Jacko. At first they just bonded, getting to know each other, and trained in basic obedience. Jones said that’s a very important step, as it establishes a trust between man and dog.

Jones said Jacko will be ready for full duty in January, and will specialize in apprehension and narcotics. And while he is trained to find suspects and drugs as if looking for a toy, his partner knows differently.

“He’ll protect me to his death, basically without even thinking twice,” Jones said.

The City of Pocatello owns the police dogs. When a dog is ready for retirement, the city will usually sell the dog to the officer for $1.

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