By Michael Smothers
From: Pekin Times
City police Officer Rob Jones took a friendly shot at his partner sitting next to him.
“You eat a lot. Why are you so skinny?” he said.
His partner just looked at him and breathed through his mouth.
That’s what dogs do.
If Ahen had chosen to reply verbally, Jones might’ve had to translate the bark from Turkish, the language in the eastern European country where the police department’s newest member and latest K-9 unit, or police dog, was born.
Ahen (pronounced Aheen) is a 2-year-old Dutch shepherd who joined the force in February and went active in May. In between were three months of specialized training — for both Ahen and Jones, his assigned handler — at the Illinois State Police Academy.
“He was basically a green dog” with no specific police-related training prior to his purchase, Jones said. Because “some commands are just easier” for police-trained dogs to absorb when issued in Dutch or German, Ahen and Jones have learned a bit of those languages as well.
He knows his business. As a “full-service” police dog, he’s capable of detecting drugs, searching buildings, tracking, holding subjects at bay and, when necessary, biting, Jones said.
But in his dog’s heart, Ahen is an easy-going fellow, said Jones.
“He’s very sociable” and loves to play, said the four-year department veteran who takes his partner home each night. Inevitably, the two have grown close.
At work, “I have to keep that separate,” Jones said. “He’s a tool on my belt to serve the public. But I do have an emotional tie” to the canine unit that, when he’s retired in about a half-dozen years, Jones expects to keep as his close pet.
Ahen didn’t come cheap. His purchase and training amounted to $8,000, said Deputy Chief Don Baxter. That money came from the department’s share of forfeitures of drug-related cash seized in recent arrests, Baxter said, and Ahen is already making a return on the investment.
“He participated in 33 arrests last month alone, sniffing out (drugs) in cars,” Jones said.
Ahen was brought on to replace Kazan, who retired after three years. He is the department’s seventh dog since it began its K-9 program in 1993.