The Star-News


Dogged by a canine tale

Sat, Jun 07 2014 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski

When Officer Jim Zoll (now a Chief in Washington State) got a police dog, his assaults at the hands of street crooks plummeted. Crooks didn’t mind taking on a cop if they could throw the first punch while the officer was looking at his shoes. But they didn’t want to tangle with a police dog.

Entertaining stories about police dogs, and their handlers, abound. The late George Hart and his canine partner, King, responded to a call of an open door at a closed business on the midnight shift. A beat officer shaking doors had a predictable reaction when he tried to open the door of the business, and it opened. He almost had a heart attack because doors on closed businesses are supposed to be locked.

The officer called for a canine unit to search the building. King went through the place and found no one. There was no sign of forced entry. It is more likely the manager forgot to lock the door upon closing.

The beat officer found a pile of poop in one of the aisles. As the story was later circulated, George pointed at King as the responsible party, and the dog pointed at George. Nonetheless, George had to clean up the pile. That story made the rounds until the next officer screwed up and we had someone else to pick on.

Trasmad “Tro” Peltekian had a wonderful dog, “Roscoe.” This dog could do everything regular police dogs do: track, search buildings, attack, and protect his handler. Roscoe was also trained in marijuana detection. This was in the 80s when marijuana was the “devil weed” and not the social and medical thing it is today. Possession of marijuana was a big deal.

Tro wanted to demonstrate to a group of officers how proficient Roscoe was in finding drugs after his recent training. So he planted some marijuana in the recessed area of the outside rear view mirror of a patrol car in the police parking lot.

He took the group, and Roscoe, out to the parking lot and began walking the dog around one of the cars. Nothing. Some of the officers were snickering, but tastefully—or maybe not. Tro took Roscoe for another walk around the car giving him the appropriate commands. Nothing.

Tro started to sweat. He was getting embarrassed. By now the cops had stopped snickering and actually felt bad for Tro. After all, he touted Roscoe as the newest crime fighting machine in the department. Tro even resorted to taking his hands and tapping around the fender and mirror. Nothing.

Finally, the light came on in Tro’s head. He realized he was at the wrong police car. The car with the planted marijuana was two cars down in the row. Roscoe found the marijuana easily and the teasing of Tro began in earnest.
Much later, while on a search for some suspects that had run from the police, Roscoe was on the job. As sometimes can happen, another officer was running and Roscoe bit the officer. The dogs do not differentiate whether someone running is wearing a uniform or not (When I was in the field and a police dog was employed on a search, I stood very still).

The officer shot Roscoe, but Roscoe survived and went back to work a short time later. Eventually it was a happy ending.


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