This article was originally published on www.timesfreepress.com
The latest four-legged addition to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit has her own passport.
Tynne, a 2-year-old Hanoverian Hound, was imported from Slovakia and trained in South Carolina to be a tracking dog, adding a powerful new asset with floppy ears and an impressive nose to the sheriff’s office. The breed is comparatively rare.
“We’re becoming a little more international,” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said with a grin at a Tuesday morning news conference to introduce Tynne.
“What makes her so special is that her whole training is concentrated on her ability to track. That’s why we’re particularly proud of her pedigree,” he said. “A lot of our other dogs can do tracking and some other things, but she was bred because of her particular breeding to be a tracking dog.”
Overall, Tynne’s purchase and training cost $10,650, donated privately by the AEGIS Law Enforcement Foundation.
German shepherds and Belgian Malinois are often the backbone of K9 divisions, but both breeds have their pros and cons when it comes to strength, intelligence and health. Many K9 units are mixes of the two breeds to get the best of both worlds while avoiding issues such as hip dysplasia, which plagues German shepherds.
“We welcome her as a full-fledged member of the sheriff’s office,” Hammond said. “I think there are always incidents where we need tracking dogs, and we’ve had to borrow from private sources. We do see there’s a regular need for this.”
A three-man tracking team has been dedicated to Tynne and trained to work with her, but her primary handler will be Sgt. Mark Williams, who has been with the agency for 26 years. He said one of the biggest challenges has been getting her acclimated to her new stomping grounds after training in South Carolina.
“[It was] 18 feet above sea level so there was a bunch of water and a bunch of swamps, so bringing her back up here has been kind of a transition from what she was used to down there versus up here, where we’ve got our woods and our mountains,” Williams said. “She’s still getting used to her new environment.”
The team spent time training with Tynne and building relationships with her, but Williams said that’s an ongoing process.
“We know that the dog knows what she’s doing. We’ve got to figure out and learn her.”
Handlers hope to get about six or seven years of work out of service dogs, and they often take ownership of the animals after it’s time for them to retire. Tynne lives with Williams now and she’s familiar with his family, but he said there’s a distinction between her and his other dogs.
“She is not a pet. She is a working dog You can’t treat her like a pet. She is a tool,” he said.