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LOPD literally goes to the dogs with new K9s

Pair of canine recruits will begin serving and protecting this spring
by:  SAM BENNETT, Lake Oswego Police officer Bryan McMahon is shown with his new best friend, Kai. McMahon, Kai and fellow LOPD officer Dawn Walker with her K9, Enzo, begin certification training this month.

Two new German recruits have joined the Lake Oswego Police Department.

German shepards Enzo vom Rabenturm and Ilkay 'Kai' vom Schmausenbuck, both 3, will begin serving and protecting later this spring.

The dogs will also be available to assist nearby police departments, such as Portland or Tigard.

The Lake Oswego Police Department has not had a K9 Unit since 2003.

Their handlers are officers Bryan McMahon and Dawn Walker.

Walker will be handling Enzo, a sable German shepherd with longer hair. Walker has been with the department for three and a half years.

McMahon will be handling Kai, a standard black and tan German shepherd. McMahon has been with the department for nine years.

Enzo and Kai have been with their handlers for approximately three weeks, working on bonding and socialization. They were raised in Germany and had basic training to become police dogs.

Beginning this week, both K9 teams will be attending a 10-week academy sponsored by the Hillsboro Police Department. The training is required for state certification.

K9 teams can help with catching criminals because of their tracking ability, and can also defuse a stressful situation with mere presence.

K9 teams also provide an additional level of protection when searching for suspects in buildings or vegetation. K9s can alert officers to a suspect's location, and if necessary, apprehend the suspect. The K9 teams will also assist in public education programs and will be seen at local events and schools.

The LOPD has not had a K9 unit for several years because one of the handlers was hired by Portland police and another dog was retired.

Lt. Darryl Wrisley said a unique talent that dogs bring is the ability to be called off.

'They're extremely intelligent, easy to train and excellent tracking dogs,' said Wrisley. 'They have enough aggression to do the more dangerous parts of the job, also.'

The state certification process will take 360 hours of training for the dogs and handlers.

Enzo and Kai are already riding in patrol cars with their handlers, working on their socializing.

Once they're fully trained, one will work the swing shift and the other will work the graveyard shift.

Walker said she enjoys the challenge of working with Enzo.

'It's going to be a lot of work, but they do so much for the public,' she said.

She said she is already impressed with her dog's ability to get excited about his job.

'When it's time for work, they know,' she said.

Wrisley had his own dog, Ingo, who worked with him on the force for eight years.

Among his accomplishments, Ingo caught two bank robbers, Wrisley said.

He said the handlers, who take the dogs home and are with them 24/7, treat the dogs like family.

'I would say, if you take your favorite pet and multiply it 10 times, that's what it's like,' he said, comparing a normal dog relationship with a police dog bond. 'You end up so close, you can almost read each other's minds. A handler spends more time with a dog than with a spouse.'

The K9 teams should be on the streets of Lake Oswego by March 2008.