Deputy/K-9 Handler Brison Swearingen and new K-9 Officer "Dayk" have completed the first of four weeks training at a northern Michigan facility.
"This is a fantastic opportunity and a great help to the department," Swearingen told The Brazil Times Saturday while home during a break in the training. "This has been an interest of mine since I got into law enforcement (three years ago). It is really exciting work."
Dayk, pronounced as Dak, is an energetic two-and-a-half-year-old a Dutch Shepherd mix that arrived from Holland only a few weeks ago.
"He's is a well-mannered dog who likes to work," Swearingen said. "He's been traveling a lot to get here, so he's still getting adjusted. During the training we're learning how to be a team, but I think we have bonded really well during the past week. He knows exactly what to do; I just have to learn the commands. So, I guess he's teaching me."
The Swearingen and Dayk team will train with current Deputy/K-9 Handler Josh Clarke and K-9 Officer Forrest in the future. Although Dayk's commands are in a different language than Forrest's, the officers say the dogs will be familiar the other's commands.
Forrest and Dayk met each other Saturday morning and got along well together.
"When needed, we will work as a unit," Clarke said.
A second K-9 team will allow the department to have a police dog available 24 hours a day, which will allow Clarke and Forrest some time to rest and save the department overtime expenses.
"These deputies are making a life-long commitment to these dogs," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "They will be partners until the dogs retire, and even afterwards. These dogs become part of their families."
Heaton said it would also let the K-9 units do more outreach work with children in schools. The K-9 handlers agree.
"I'm really looking forward to working with kids in schools," Swearingen said. "Dayk is very friendly."
Clarke agreed, saying, "These dogs are such a good influence on children. It's an opportunity to show them that we are here to help them."
Funded through grants and donations from local residents and businesses, Heaton said the department was grateful for the support of the community.
"Dayk wouldn't have been a possibility without their support," he said. "We are very grateful."
How to help
The Clay County Sheriff's Department relies upon community donations to support the K-9 program.
Tax deductible donations can be sent to the:
Clay County Sheriff's Department K-9 Fund
c/o Clay County Sheriff's Department
611 E. Jackson St.
Brazil, Ind. 47834
All proceeds collected will support the K-9 fund.