New Guilderland recruit a little 'ruff' around the edges

If someone said the police department's latest recruit likes to chase after sticks as well as robbers, people might begin to wonder.

But not at the Guilderland Police Department, which recently brought Rocky the German shepherd on board as the newest officer in its K-9 unit.

Sgt. Don Jones of the Guilderland police department said he is helping to raise Rocky so he can be a successful police dog.

We really don't want him to be a pet. We tested him to see if he had all the attributes to be a police dog recruit, Jones said.

Attributes include Rocky's play drive, and how he reacts to different environments and noises.

"Is he afraid? Is he social? Will he let you handle him easily? Little things like that," Jones said.

Jones said the attribute the department is most looking at is a dog's play drive.

"A dog who is a good police dog must be playful and want to have a lot of fun," he said. "Is he willing to venture out to new sounds or does he run away? Does he want to chase a ball, which is what we call his prey drive? If I throw a ball into the woods, is the dog willing to run and get it?"

Jones said he also exposes Rocky to different environments such as crowds, noises, different types of floors, and socializing him with other dogs and people.

The sable German shepherd puppy, who is 16 weeks old, replaced veteran police dog K-9 Niko in September, after that dog died following a brief illness on Aug. 27.

Rocky was donated by Dr. David Wolfe of Shaker Veterinary Hospital and Tony and Kris Vogt of Westmere. He was chosen from a litter of 10 puppies raised from Wolfe's male and the Vogts' female dogs.

The puppy is currently being fostered by Jones, who was also Niko's handler.

The dog will begin training when it reaches a year of age. Rocky was named by students of the Guilderland Animal Protection Society (GAPS) program at the Farnsworth Middle School.

Rocky will be trained in criminal apprehension in apprehending more dangerous criminals.

"After he is done apprehending someone, the handler tells him to let him go and his job is done," Jones said.


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