Police dog adjusts to retirement

Campbell County Sheriff's Office K9 officer Rocky and his handler Gary Spears sit together during Rocky's retirement ceremony. Rocky served nine years as a drug dog for the sheriff's office and before retiring in November because of a broken leg. Rocky now lives with Spears, who said the dog has not quite adjusted to a retirement schedule. (Photo by Rhianna Gelhart)

By Jonathan Gallardo

Gillette News Record

Via Wyoming News Exchange

GILLETTE — Rocky hasn’t quite adjusted to retirement yet.

The Dutch shepherd, who had spent the last nine years working as a drug dog for the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, still thinks he has to go to work every day, said his handler, Cpl. Gary Spears.

“He wants to leave the house every time I do,” Spears said during a retirement ceremony Friday afternoon “He followed me around the house today more than any day, as I was getting ready for work.”

Rocky retired in November after breaking his rear left leg. Project K-9 Hero, a nonprofit organization that helps with medical costs, food and end of duty services for police and military dogs across the country, paid for Rocky’s medical costs.

Most drug dogs work for five to eight years. 

During his 9-year career, Rocky has been deployed 1,194 times. He found drugs 229 times, leading to 166 charges of possession of a controlled substance. He also went on 220 tracking searches, and had 398 calls where he helped out other agencies.

Sheriff Scott Matheny said Rocky won’t be replaced until some time next year. In addition to training a new dog, a new handler has to be trained as well. Rocky is Spears’ third and final drug dog.

Rocky won’t be alone. The Spears have two other dogs and three cats, and Rocky doesn’t mind the cats too much, Keri said, adding that he’ll let the cats play with his ears. But there’s still one thing on his mind, and that’s going to work.

Spears’ wife, Keri, said it can be tough to watch Rocky. The Spears can’t leave Rocky at home by himself, because “he tears down the blinds and things like that, trying to find Gary,” she said.

“He sits at the top of the stairs, waiting for (Gary) to come home,” Keri said. “That’s his life, that’s what he’s bred for. If you take that away from him, it’ll take some getting used to.”