EASTON — The Talbot County Sheriff’s Office welcomed some new hires on Sept. 15.
But there was one problem — the newest additions to the police department couldn’t stop pulling on their leashes so they could play with the other deputies who came out to welcome them.
Chocolate Labrador retrievers Buc and Chief are joining three other K-9 units in the Sheriff’s Office. Buc is paired with Dfc. Brittanie DiMichele and Chief with Cpl. Jeff Smith.
The additional K-9s allow for one available unit on every shift, Sheriff Joe Gamble said. The units are vital because K-9s can track people, as well as find drugs and hidden contraband.
“Talbot County has the highest rate per capita of retired people in the state,” Gamble said. “My first year as sheriff, we had a lady wander off into a snowstorm. The nice thing about having labs is you can track Alzheimer’s patients.”
After some initial scurrying around in the grass in front of the police department, the dogs demonstrated their ability to track scents by detecting a dummy smell near a car. Both Chief and Buc sniffed around the vehicle on their leashes, and then paused on their hind legs after a hit.
“The dogs came trained,” Smith said. “The six weeks of training we did was us learning.”
The dogs effectively become the officer’s partners, living with them at home and going out on every patrol and ride.
Smith’s last trained canine died of old age when he worked at the Cambridge Police Department, and he was initially not sure if he was ready for another one.
But Smith knew it would “feel good to have a companion” again. Chief is only 18 months old.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It gives me somebody to talk to.”
The department bought both labradors for $20,000 from North Carolina-based K2 solutions, a dog-training company. The money came from private donations. The Easton Rotary bought one dog and The Lady Patriots of the Eastern Shore purchased another.
Connie Sheer, the president of Lady Patriots, said she actually approached the the sheriff’s department with the hopes of raising money for whatever they needed most. That ended up being two new K-9s.
“Everybody wants to support Sheriff Joe,” she said. “It was the easiest $10,000 ever spent.”