The deputy who oversees the K9 training unit for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department has been working with dogs for more than 25 years.
Senior Deputy Chris Smith said he still gets excited every time one of his dogs tracks down something new or nibbles on his shirt.
Smith was training dogs even before he started his police work. He just happened to train dogs with other officers, before becoming a patrol deputy and later joining the K9 unit.
Smith said his time as a deputy taught him the dogs are irreplaceable.
“We use the dogs’ scenting abilities, to find things for us,” Smith said. “There’s no other tool or technology, that’s out there, that can mimic them.”
Smith trains dogs for more than 20 agencies throughout the state, and the success of the Boone County K9 training program landed him a feature in Missouri Sheriff Magazine.
It takes approximately 8 to 12 weeks to get a new dog trained and working, but for Smith and the canines, it is mostly fun and games.
“I still get really excited just watching them work on a daily basis and to see what they can do,” Smith said.
He said the dogs enjoy the training just as much.
“In the dog’s’ mind, they’re hunting for a toy,” he said. “When they find it, then their toy comes out and they get rewarded that way.”
Smith works with K9s year-round at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
He said he hopes the community realizes the dogs are just as friendly as any neighborhood pup, except with criminals.
“Our dogs are really socialable and when they’re not training, they’re hanging out with their handler,” Smith said. “They’re socialable, friendly dogs, but they have a job to do.”
Smith said he couldn’t imagine a better job.
“Training dogs is like a dream come true,” he said.
Read Smith’s story, which appears on pages 30 and 31, by visiting http://hilldesignco.com/MSA_0219/FLASH/index.html
By: Charles Nichelson | KOMU 8