New deputies playful, obedient

Chief and Gwen happily greeted fellow Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputies before they formally were introduced as the newest members of the department.
One was playful, the other obedient.
Only Gwen was attentive when introduced by Sheriff Stanley Glanz while Chief made it clear that he would rather play. However, neither spoke, nor were they asked to.
Rather Deputy Evan Foster and Deputy Dan Ruskoski told about the roles their new partners, both Belgian Malinois, would play as drug detecting dogs while they patrolled their Tulsa County beats.
Both dogs were the gift of the Pilgrim-Rock Lodge of Tulsa and the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma.
They replaced Hunter, the department’s only drug dog who died in 2008. Half of the $7,000 came from the Pilgrim-Rock Lodge. The remaining funds were from the Mason’s foundation.
Funding came when Past Master John Alexander saw the media report about Hunter’s death.
‘‘I was talking to George Harrelson with the sheriff’s department and learned about the need,’’ he said. The opportunity to get both dogs makes it possible to have two 12-hour shifts covered. There are five Masonic Lodges in Tulsa who work together to support Lindberg Elementary School as well as a Junior ROTC program in the Tulsa Public Schools.
‘‘When the question was presented, it received unanimous support from lodge members,’’ he said. There are a lot of problems in the community and we felt that this would be one way of keeping officers do their job.
Glanz said the Belgian Malinois is a strong breed with a built-in drive. Both dogs were trained before they came to the department and their handlers received special training to complete the assignment.
When the formal introduction was completed, Chief playfully decided to chew on Deputy Ruskowski’s hand.
The 10-month-old dog likes to play, his handler said. He does get very playful, but he is trained to do his job — narcotics detection.
Part of Ruskowski’s job is to continue and reinforce the training the dog received before joining the department.
Chief will be developing and growing, the deputy said. He (Chief) will be used in narcotics detection during traffic stops, checking pedestrians as well as sniffing houses. The dog’s actions will alert officers to probable cause situations so warrants can be obtained. Another role will be checking the David L. Moss Correctional Center for illegal drugs that people might try to smuggle into the facility.
Deputy Evan Foster said the benefit of having Gwen at his side is that another law enforcement tool has been added to the Sheriff’s Department arsenal to fight against crime.
Gwen, two and one-half years old, is fully trained and is obedient, he said. ‘‘I would feel very safe with her around children. I have three children and she loves them. She will be safe to handle in schools.’’
A narcotics dog will be in service between five and seven years before they must be retired, Foster said.
Gwen receives special dog food and part of Foster’s responsibilities towards his partner is to take her to the veterinarian as required and give her weekly baths.
Training is a continuous requirements to help her maintain her sniffing and tracking skills, Foster added. That training gives Gwen the confidence to do here job.
Gwen already has seen service and Foster hopes her presence will cut down on drug traffic in the county.
Glanz said the duo will be especially important in discouraging people from bringing illegal substances to the correctional center.
It happens, he admitted, and offenders have been staff members who ended up in jail themselves because of their illegal actions.

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