Dog day afternoon

Fifteen of Northern Nevada's furriest drug enforcers were sniffing around Carson City on Wednesday.

"This is training we do every month on top of our daily individual training," said Deputy Brian Humphrey, who handles "Tahoe," the Carson City Sheriff's Department lone drug-sniffing dog.

Dog handlers from Washoe County, Douglas County and Carson City Sheriff's Departments along with officers from the Nevada Highway Patrol and Fallon Naval Air Station ran their dogs through a gamut of exercises designed at fine-tuning their abilities to sniff out narcotics.

Douglas County Deputy Mike Helms will retire his dog of six years, Ben, in June.

Ben was the first dog put into service by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in 1993. Now 10 years old, he will be living the life of Riley under Helms' roof, come retirement. All handlers have the option of taking home their dogs upon the animal's retirement.

"I don't know a handler, truthfully, that would ever give up their dog," Helms said.

Once Ben retires, Helms is hanging up the leash for investigations.

Before becoming a deputy, he was a dog handler in the prisons. He spent his first six years as a regular deputy before becoming a handler on the force.

"Having a dog is so much better," he said.

Ben is one of the two drug dogs and two patrol dogs in Douglas County.

Today, another Douglas dog will retire when Deputy Mike Doan's partner, Brush, a freckled springer spaniel hangs up his badge.

Doan and Brush have been together for five years and will become roommates after the 14-year-old hound retirement.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dan Reasland, stationed at Fallon Naval Air Station, was on hand with his sidekick of six months, Tosca.

The two have a deep connection despite their short time together.

Unfortunately for Reasland, once he leaves this duty assignment, Tosca will stay behind and whenever military working dogs retire they go back to Lackland Air Force Base to help train up and coming dogs. Lackland is the Department of Defense school where all branches of the military get their dogs from.

Tosca, unlike the other dogs in the group, is dual trained. She can sniff out drugs or work patrol, meaning she is trained to take out the bad guy.

"If her sniffer goes out on her, she can become a straight patrol dog," Reasland said.

In the morning the group gathered in the empty Supply One building and then after lunch moved to the event center at Fuji Park.

"We try to expose these dogs (in training) to as many different locations and smells as you can. When you go out on a live search you want your dog to be prepared," Helms said.

From area searches to building searches, the dogs succeeded in finding their mark every time.

"We do ongoing training everyday," Humphrey said. "For one day out of the month we get together. It's nice."

Next month's training will be hosted by Douglas County.


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